1) It seems to me conceivable that when you get down to subtle differences
that there might be a difference between synthetic N and natural N that
plants can distinguish; I say this even though I don't know a lepton from a
leprechaun, sub-atomic particle-wise, although I hear there are quarks
classifiable as 'strange/charmed'...:-) This means to me that it could be
good for some people to be pure as the driven snow in the choice of their
N-sources, just in case....I say this even knowing that Ehrenfried Pfieffer
himself once wrote that nitrogen is nitrogen in the same way that four is
four...he may never have had New Math...:-) IOW, it may be that nitrogen is
nitrogen synthetic or natural, or it may be that the natural stuff knows the
secret organic handshake...<wink> The current dogma is what Pfeiffer says,
and many hold to it with religious fervor...
2) I have also been told that anthropogenic N production is exceeding the
capacity of the biosphere to handle, with resulting pollution...and that N
production is energy intensive...and that means more C unsequestered into
3) wood chips aren't hard to compost properly. This spring, following
simple instructions I received from Phil Fredericks, I made a pile of wood
chips (9 parts) and one part grass clippings which heated for a long time,
now harbors a fine crop of worms, and which is growing good spinach. (Not
quite as good as the two year old wood chip, leaf and kitchen waste
vermicompost I trialed it against, but good...)
Wood chips are especially conducive to composting when they are what the
French call bois rameal fragmente, or chipped branches less than 3" in
diameter, and taken in the summer time. Such chips may have a C/N ratio as
low as 25/1; whereas chipped heartwood may be 300/1...
Joel Salatin, in his book, Salad Bar Beef, speaks of making extensive use of
wood chips as a bedding material, first for cattle, then for his aeration
If you need an N source for your wood chips, there may be a local
restaurant, grocery, fish house, etc with wastes...Or you could add your own
Yellow River Organics stream to the pile...human urine contains a pound of
natural N per 100 pounds (12 and a half gallons)...
According to Fredericks, my addition of grass clippings to my wood chip pile
was unnecessary...properly moistened and inoculated woodchips compost
easily, according to him...apparently there are N-fixing organisms at
Of course that must be true; who fertilizes the forest?
Frank Teuton--who notes that Ruth Stout reported successful mulching with
wood chips, long ago...
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