Monday, 28 May 2007


Photo: Hair makes for excellent insulation in a birds nest.

Would hair make a good garden fertiliser? Regards PB Moville

I tried hair in the garden a few years ago. I went around all of the barber’s shops and collected it. I can honestly say that it is the most unpleasant thing I have put on the garden. The thought of it now is making me feel queasy! That aside let us have a look at whether it’s worth all of the retching

Hair might affect the growth of plants in a number of ways.

Hair is made of protein and all proteins contain Nitrogen and Sulphur (which are important plant nutrients), so when hair is broken down by bacteria this N and S will be available for plants to take up through their roots. Some gardeners use "hoof and horn" or "dried blood" as fertilisers in this way - hooves and horns are made of the same protein as hair (keratin), but for me applying this is more favourable by far. However, when hair is broken down by bacteria, the bacteria this may actually compete with plants for the available nitrogen in the soil and actually remove nitrogen from soil, in the same way that fresh straw does. Hair would add organic matter to the soil and that may change the structure of the soil, making it better drained (for example). However, the effect would be easier to obtain with rotted leaf mould or other composted garden/kitchen waste. Can I change the subject now please!


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