Friday, August 22, 2008


I was poking around the garden, trying to beat the bugs to the ripening treats. Bugs may not study food chemistry, but they know when something's good.

The light's a bit more oblique these days.

Late August, harvest time.

I got to thinking about what happens to decaying life, then my brain wandered to the eventual decomposition of my body.

If I allow my carcass to be pumped full of formaldehyde then buried 6 feet, not a whole lot of recycling is going to happen.

(Just burying a carcass six feet deep keeps a body fresh. Any good camper knows your cat hole shouldn't be more than 8" deep, or else it won't decompose well.)

Both my folks and my sister have been cremated. My Dad was scattered in anger over his ragged wildflower garden, my sister spread in love on a field overlooking an apple orchard. My Mom was cremated and buried 6 feet deep.

Plants need very little besides sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen to make all the stuff that they make. Plants don't need my rotting carcass to exist, though it might pep up the fading tomatoes this time of year.

I could opt for a green burial--no formaldehyde, wrapped in a shroud, tossed in the ground, but that's not where my thoughts wandered today.

What I wondered was just how useful the ashes left at cremation might be for fertilizer.

Seems like someone beat me to it:
Cremation ash as phosphorous source for soil additive or fertilizer

A composition for a soil additive and a method for promoting plant growth usin
g cremation ash from the remains of a cremated, e.g., human, which avoids the disadvantages of prior soil compositions while affording additional benefits and advantages is disclosed. The soil additive comprises cremation ash and a solubilizer combined with the ash to form a mixture....The disclosed composition and method provide a way for memorializing deceased loved ones, such as, for example, family members, friends, and pets.

Alas, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) appears to have no record of it, at least not on their website.

I could just check the two sites my kin were scattered, though I have no controls except the immediately surrounding terrain.

If the apple trees grow better I could call it love--but I bet phosphorous has a little bit to do with it, too.

Photos retrieved from the National Archives.

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