The Long and Short of Human Hair Fertilizer

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/human-hair-fertilizer.aspx

Hair. Long, beautiful, shining, gleaming… fertilizing? Human hair fertilizer isn’t as crazy as it might sound. Researchers at Mississippi State University have found luscious locks and grizzled beards have significant amounts more nitrogen than manure and can make a great, natural replacement for traditional fertilizers and herbicides.

Using human hair as a fertilizer does have its drawbacks. Hair breaks down very slowly, taking one to two years to decompose completely. And some gardeners worry about using hair on edible plants because chemicals, from washing, styling and coloring, may still be in the hair.

You can keep your clippings from shaving and ask for your trimmings at the barber, then add them to your backyard compost. This will allow the hair to break down before using it as a fertilizer. Use caution when using a compost tumbler though, because hair does not seem to compost completely in them. You can also simply mix small pieces of hair directly in with the soil. Using uncomposted hair can help improve poor quality soil by slowly releasing nutrients and nitrogen into the soil. The hair can also provide structural support for roots and help break up thick or clay soil.

If you’re not comfortable using your own tresses, Florida based company SmartGrow sells biodegradable mats made of human hair. The mats easily fit in the bottom of potted plants, but can also be used as a top soil. SmartGrow claims using the mat as a top soil makes a great replacement for traditional herbicides by helping to prevent weeds, and they say the mats grow bigger, greener plants with faster growth and more blooms. They also say their mats are made up of 15 percent nitrogen and retain four times more water than standard soil.

What do you think about using hair as a fertilizer or in your compost? Have you ever tried it? Have you used a SmartGrow mat? Post your thoughts in the comments below.