make your own biochar

At the turn of the gardens from spring/early summer crop offerings to fall garden, we have added our homegrown!!! biochar to the lower garden raised beds.  yay!!

Some was saved to do a “real” experiment, and chart up what we find.  Real tracking will happen in the greenhouse at the house.  there biochar will be added to one of the two beds only, the other bed will receive fertilizer in the form of the same composted manure and  rock phosphate, and some additional lime.  the biochar bed will also receive some additional lime.

Way back in May we made our first biochar.  Mike Whitney and i packed a central 55 gal steel drum w/as much scrape wood as would fit, turned it end

up with open end on the bottom to reduce the oxygen available to the inside of the barrel, and so we wouldn’t make a bomb..

Then we put a large portion of a bigger 500 gallon oil drum around this filled 55 gal barrel. in the donut like shape around the 55 gallon barrel, we built a wood fire made of high temp refuse like very dry twigs and brush of all sorts laced with more dense stuff to keep the fire going.  To make biochar is to get a fire going around that inner barrel that gets up to about 900F and stays there for a few hours.  This makes the wood inside the 55 gallon barrel hot enough to turn the contents into this particular kind of charcoal.  We have done our little experiment twice now fist time we got the inner barrel hot enough the second time we didn’t.

What we got from the inner barrel first time, was a very fine dust of charcoal, shiney, slippery, way too easy to inhale if you stir it.   maybe

we got 15 pounds of biochar that we then added to some of our wonderful manure from cows, horses and chickens, barn fodder, and put that in another 55 gallon drum, plastic this time and then added water.  Oh what a brew it made.  yum if you are a worm and pooh eating things and such.. we let that steep & cook under some old grain bags as a lid for about 2 months.  Now we have moved and used in the garden.  empty barrel remains,, nourished raised beds arise. i got to say that i was in the garden transplanting celeries for a while after putting the biochar down.  By the time i left the garden  the plants near what had been spread were already saying thank youfor the nourishing bump. i could already see a difference.  maybe it is just me, but,, ummmmm..that was fast.

Here is a youtube from James Lovelock, founding thinker of the gaia principle, speaking about biochar:   james lovelock

also a youtube about biochar that will knock some socks.if you like the facts  .

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One Comment

  1. Libby/Mara's new MIL
    Posted August 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Somehow, Dory, I landed on your beautiful Sunswept Farm website – lucky me to know so much more about your amazing land and how you love it. Mara talks about it with love in her eyes and I can see why. It was so nice to have met you at the wedding. I will check in with your site once in a while to see what incredible and lovely ways you are living with your land, your animals and people. In that order? hee hee
    Libby Beatty, Mara’s new mother in law

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