That looks like it works well. I like how you talked about your place and what the parameters are. I think too many people have become aggressive about their system being the one and only correct model for all situations. I had seen the evidence and wanted to make biochar for years, but I didn't figure out one that would work for my situation until I saw one a few years ago and decided to adapt it and make it work for me. Obviously, a large farm, small farm, suburb and urban areas will probably all have different applications, but can learn from and adapt ideas to what they've got.
I tried to stir the biochar during the inoculation phase. Almost impossible when it is dry doesn't have the "Sauce" in it. Pretty easy when it is soaking. I can't completely stir it 100% of the way, but I can mix it a bit more. The sauce itself mixes all of the nutrients throughout. I also don't think that it is crucial that each tiny piece of biochar has equal amounts of nutrients in it. I think the mycelium will distribute that. That was in response to Roberto Pokaninni.
J Brun-It is in an extremely aerobic situation for 23 hours and 58 minutes of the day. It just gets drenched once per day, so that is definitely aeroblcally dominated.
Thanks for the detailed video. I think the process shows promise. It is actually rather similar to my TLUD in a 55 gallon barrel. I think there will be many applications to many people's circumstances. Most of the people who I talk to here locally make small biochars like this. For me, I need the 55 gallon size because I need the amount of biochar on a larger scale. The more options we can show people, the more people will be improving their soils, sequestering carbon, and improving the heatlh of their produce and their bodies.
THe concept of deep soil inoculation with bokashi is a really interesting one. I have mostly focused on the top foot of the soil, where it should be aerobic. I can't speak on Elaine Ingham's nor Redhawk's ideas about deep soil and anaerobic amendments. Kind of intriguing, really.
As Elaine Ingham and Bryant Redhawk have mentioned, we want oxygenated soils, because that's how we have soils dominated by microbes that help our food plants. This includes mushrooms.
Bokashi, as I understand it, is a fermentation process, without oxygen. There are useful places for that process, like decomposing animal flesh and preserving vegetables (sauerkraut and kimchi). Even adjusting some nutrient dense organic material might be optimally used with bokashi. However, I think it's a temporary way to create a limited amount of compost or bioavailable nutrients. These nutrients would optimally be oxygenated before being introduced to the soil in any sort of large way. We don't want to introduce a large number of pathogenic microbes to our crops.
The original terra preta biochar makers may have made these particular distinctions, but we have no records. When you kill off the storytellers, you don't get their story, so you lose.
Great question Roberto.
I don't have acreage. I'm just doing a suburban yard version. After crushing the char, I want it to be mixed in with the other nutrients. I start with about 4 gallons of charcoal, and I layer it in so that the nutritious sauce will flow throughouot the charcoal, turning it into biochar. After I add the 4 gallons to each layer, the 5 gallon bucket is about filled up. When I drench the sauce through once a day, it will have a chance to mix through. If I wanted to premix it, I would need a larger container. I don't think that layering the nutrients in is structurally beneficial. It just lets me make sure that I fit the right mix of nutrients and charcoal. If I had a 10 gallon bucket I could mix them all together first, I guess.
Yes, supplementing can help but we need to be careful. The people who take the most calcium have the most broken bones.
What works then? I have heard from detail oriented MD's that it isn't just one thing. You need a real balance of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, yes vitamin k2. The only food to find lots of vitamin k2 according to many sources is natto, fermented soybeans. Ok so it is slimy and tasteless. I make a burrito, in which I place amla powder, an Indian superfood, which is sour, powdery and astringent, on top of the slimy natto in a piece of nori, so they cancel each other out. Then I add walnuts, craisins, and plain yogurt , and add chopped leafy greens. Then I add drops of mustard, soy/worcestershire sauce, chile, like they do in Japan, and wrap it up in the Nori burrito. Pretty good tasting and shockingly healthy. I haven't figured out any other way to get natto down. It's famous in Japan for being super healthy and disgusting. I get out in the sun a lot while gardening and recreating (vitamin D). I've had my garden soil tested for phosphorus and it's ok. I eat tons of leafy greens, which also have calcium. Plantain and dandelion especially. If I hear about something that is astonishingly healthy, it's like a red cape for a bull and I have to find a way in which I can eat it. Sometimes it takes many, many tries, but I always find a way.
One thing that completely amazes me every time, is that when I pour the liquid into the raw charcoal at first, it just disappears. Like a giant sponge. Only a few drops come out when I try to pour it out the first time. After about the fourth or fifth time, the same amount of liquid comes out. This is usually after I have added yet more rotten fruit. At that time, I figure, it is inoculated. The nutritious materials in it will continue to evolve with all of the microbes in it, and they will exchange each other when put into the soil. The liquid was originally urine, but after swishing through the worm compost, regular leaf compost, crushed oysters, rotten wood mycelium, and flour, it is clearly a slurry mixture. It will no longer suck the nutrition out of the soil when put into it.
They are medicinally distinct. Both have independent research on pub med documenting their medicinal value. You can't patent either one, so youll never hear about it on major media. I use thyme as yummy anti-viral medicine. Oregano is also yummy anti-viral medicine. I cut off a branch or two of thyme, stick it in a mason jar in glycerite, and take it any time during the winter when I need anti-viral medicine. I take out the plant material after about 6 weeks.
I also noticed that the slurry turns kind of yellow on top, almost clear. I have noticed that a powder like black wet dust settles out at the bottom. Like you said, we're figuring this out as we go along, which makes sharing these ideas with others all the more important.
I crush it by driving over it between panels of plywood.
I have been inoculating it mostly the same way, but I've been updating it.
I used to think I needed to inoculate the crushed biochar for 3 weeks to a month.
I think it depends largely on your method. Some people put it in with compost. I think the compost should be covered so it doesn't dry out in summer or get too drenched by heavy rain.
My new method is to layer in different nutrients. I put in rotten fruit, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, worm compost, regular/leaf compost, rotten wood for fungal mycelium, and crushed oyster shells. Then I pour into it enough urine to soak it. I only soak it for about a minute, to make sure the "housing" is being filled by nutrients. Then I pour the liquid out and store it until the next day. I keep pouring it in and out once per day. The idea is that I want the biochar to be nutrified and heavily oxygenated. If it is oxygenated, the kinds of microbes that dominate will be ones that help plants to grow. I now think that if one is dousing with this liquid mixture or with compost tea, for example, it doesn't need to wait three weeks. Since I am adding liquid inoculant along with food, I now have been adding it after six or seven liquid inoculations, which might only be a week. I have also found that within a week I can crush the biochar to as fine a condition as I can probably make it. This has been working well for me. If you see something that I should do better, please let me know in a constructive way.
Many common foods contain cyanide. Many MD's have used amygdalin as part of an effort to fight cancer. Some people have cured cancer using only amygdalin. Some cultures who eat apricot pits have astonishingly low rates of cancer. Many doctors have urged people to eat a few of the seeds as a preventative to cancer. Millions have died from chemotherapy, not from the cancer they were trying to cure. Big Pharma set up phony studies, intentionally showing that amygdalin couldn't work, because they were threatened that inexpensive natural cures could harm profits from their deadly but hugely profitable chemotherapy. Many people who use natural supplements study them carefully and know which ones to use. For example, I make medicine out of blue elderberry, but not red elderberry.
Personally, I've found that "metal" and "trying to make biochar" don't mix that well, because the high temperatures tend to put holes in the metal, so the fact you were using clay actually attracted me to your project.
I have always read that metal won't last long with biochar, but that hasn't been my experience so far. My metal 55 gallon drum has made about 15 biochars and doesn't seem to be wearing out. It may be because it is TLUD and has a chimney, so the flames and heat are going up, rather than being contained. Just a hypothesis.
When there are too many variables, it is often ineffective to come to some commanding conclusion. The ph level is an important construct. In most tropical rainforests, as in most rainy places, the soil is acidic. That is true for me here too.
Maybe what they are measuring is whether it's good in alkaline or acidic environments.
It's also incredibly irresponsible and just lazy to purport to make a summary article about the effectiveness of biochar while ignoring one of the central markers of how it's made: to inoculate it first before placing it in the soil.
Bad science proves very little, except that they need to do their science more carefully.
I have grown Trifoliate orange for years. In CHina, it is considered more medicinal than other citrus. Anti-inflammatory, I think. I am using the juice in a kind of homemade worcestershire sauce that I'm making, because the traditional worcestershire sauce only had good healthy ingredients in it. Now in the stores, the ones I see are about 50% damaging ingredients. So I make my own. Any strong flavored healthy fruit, veg, or herb is good for it.
I have read that you can graft a fruit onto osage orange. I believe it is the fruit called "Che", not after Ernesto Guevara, MD, of course. Latin name something like Cuspideria, maybe? Then you could use the low part as a hedge and the top part to grow your fruit.
The drip line of say, a tree, is usually a circle on the ground that is just below the farthest reaches of the leaves all the way around the tree. It is where the rain dripping down the leaves starting at the top would finally fall straight down, hence the name "drip line".
There are some new and interesting models coming out. James Maskell has started a program that looks interesting. So has Robin Berzin. I've listened to their podcasts. I've got Kaiser and it's pretty cheap. They won't let me get acupuncture right now, and you can't have a naturopathic physician as your primary doc, but they're ok. I'm not a health professional. I'm just a dude who is trying to be healthy. I pretty much create my health on my own, without use of health professionals.
One aspect of achieving hunger is that when you have strong stomach acid, it is much more effective at killing germs that want to enter your body, such as covid 19. I think of it as another bonus of any kind of fasting. I think that we have become so accustomed to eating all day every day that we have forgotten that hunger has a purpose. In India and China, they are very purposeful about this timing. They might say don't drink water right before a meal. It will dilute your stomach acid. Drink room temperature water 30 minutes after your meal. We eat, then digest, then assimilate the nutrients into our body, then excrete what we don't need. Each has a time and a sequence. I think that we would be healthier if we respected some of these traditional ways.
I went to the tours they used to have at One Green World. They talked about chopping the entire branch, freezing the whole thing, then picking off the berries so they don't squirt. I would also try with tiny scissors and have them drop into a cup. When they're ripe, picking them with your hands will make some of them squirt.
I liked them best in juice mixes. They used to offer all kinds of blends. They were very good. They added sugar, but I wouldn't.
I have been growing leeks for about 20 years. They are super easy. I just harvest the top green part and let the bulb keep growing. Leeks are related to ramps, but a slightly different species. Where did you get the seeds?
it seems that you believe that biochar works well in the tropics but not as well as hugulkultur in the temperate areas. I don't know if you've seen my thread about the improved productivity and flavor in my fruit trees since I started using biochar, but it is amazing. I live near Portland Oregon. Certainly not tropical. Temperate general area. Quite rainy.
I seem to notice that biochar seems to help more in rainy areas than in dry ones. I don't think that the big difference is temperature. Rain washes out nutrients no matter the temperature. Sure, it's easier to maintain a depth of soil, percent of organic matter, or whatever your measure in the temperate areas. Also rainy areas tend to be acidic, while drier areas tend toward alkalinity. The ash is generally quite alkaline, which can set things toward neutral or 6.5 if more acidic. If an area is already alkaline, adding biochar will help less. That's why I think the key difference is that biochar helps more in rainy areas.
Great posts Mike and Greg,
There is nothing wrong with speculation that is transparent. The problem is today, it goes as an accusation and a conspiracy. "Those guys are evil!"
There is a legitimate place for imagination and speculation in science in order to conceive of what is possible. We need to look at different possible models of what could be happening. We look at the data. Then we can connect the dots.
There might be a double blind, placebo controlled lab experiment in there somewhere, but it is not necessary at every level. Insisting on it at every level can be used to stop the imagination so we can't see what's really happening.
I saw a post that you made that discussed moderation outside the tinkering forum. Your post was really good otherwise. I see people on FB just showing a picture of something and asking total strangers, "Should I eat this?" It scares me.
I am a big fan of herbal medicine and I also am very wary of Big Pharma. I thought except for discussing moderation, your post was important. People need to realize that plants can harm you too, just like mushrooms. You gave a good example. Keep up the good work. Just discuss moderation in tinkering or in the purple moosages when people are moderating you.
Lawns into Meadows by Owen Wormser
Growing a regenerative landscape
I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns. Great book.
If you are interested in turning your lawn into a beautiful, sustainable, wildlife promoting, greenhouse gas limiting, pollination supporting meadow, this is the book for you.
He starts off explaining about how he became interested in meadows. He explains the benefits of them, why we don’t have as many as we used to, and why having more meadows would make us a healthier and more beautiful society. Wormser talks about why some people have not succeeded in making meadows work, and what are the crucial sequences that make them easier to create. He talks about soil, hardiness, sunlight and weeds. Then he goes into detail on several of the most crucial grasses and flowers that can be grown in a meadow and when to choose them. He talks about preparing the field, planting, maintaining the meadow, how to connect with the community, and answers questions that will likely come up.
The only criticism I would have of the book is if you were looking for edible or medicinal qualities of meadow plants, there is not much information here about that. Wormser never intended for it to be that kind of book, so it’s really more of a clarification than a criticism.
Overall, this book does an excellent job of giving you the information you need to start a meadow.
We have heavy clay soil here and lots of rain in the winterish months. Baked clay shards break up the clay, so that it drains better, but it also retains a bit of moisture in it, so it is useful in wet climates with clay soil.