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John Suavecito

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since May 09, 2010
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John Suavecito currently moderates these forums:
Food forest in a suburban location. Teaches grafting and helps people learn how to grow food. Involved with a local food exchange group. Shares cuttings and knowledge with schoolchildren.
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Recent posts by John Suavecito

When I became an uncle, I went xc skiing with my brother, sister in law and kids.  Someone had a "pulk", which you could rent for $75 a day 20 years ago ($125 now?), or buy it for $400 then ($500 now?).  It is a sled that you pull behind you when xc skiing.  You can haul kids in it.

I thought, "I could build something like that pretty cheaply."  I looked it up online and built one.  We used them for years, until our kids became too big. Then I gave them to friends who had smaller kids.  They are really fun for families, and a great way to introduce your kids to the great outdoors.  We would ski pulk for part of the day and go sledding and throw snowballs, make snow angels, etc. for the rest of the day.  Fun for everyone!

John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
Yes, they said to throw a few drops of water.  Not helpful.  It will dry up whether it's time to stop or not.  I tried that many ways and then gave up, because it didn't give me any useful information.

I wouldn't worry about the cardboard.  I'd use it.

John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
Yes, I live in PNW too with lots of acidic drizzle and poor draining clay.  Biochar is great for us.  When to stop burning it is key.  

This is a really important point.  I made a biochar stove based on this video:



However, they didn't explain when to douse the fire so that only pre=biochar would remain, and it wouldn't keep going until it made ashes. You will always have a little bit of ash and that's good for our acidic soils to make them a bit more alkaline.  But you want max crunchy pre=biochar and minimum ash.   I think the best rule of thumb is when the flames have died down to when they are barely above the burned wood, douse it. In a 55 gallon drum, it's usually about an hour/ 1 1/2 hours.  When I do this, I keep getting light, metallic sounding crunchy pre=biochar 99% free of wood. The tiny bits of wood I just save for the next session of biochar.  Tiny bits of ash.

The main other thing to improve on that video is just to draw a circle on the top of the barrel for the chimney, and use that as the basis for angle grinding the hole up into the chimney.

John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
Yes, Jay.
Charcoal that you buy in a store is burned with low oxygen but intentionally leaves wood in there so that you can burn it easily, say, in a barbeque.

Biochar has a different purpose, as Phil explained.  It is optimally made so that all of the burnable wood is transformed. You don't make it to create a new fire later.  You want all of the burnable stuff completed, and you want the volatile oils and other products out so that it is just crunchy carbon.  Then it will make amazing numbers of surfaces when crunched.  If there's still wood, it won't crunch properly.  Then it is inoculated with nutritious stuff, so that it doesn't suck all the nutrients out of the soil that you put it into at first. Then it will make great hotels for microbes to move into and out of.  
John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
There is quite a bit of stuff from Gabe Brown here on permies. Here is one of the threads:

https://permies.com/t/50727/Gabe-Brown-Mercola-Interview

John S
PDX OR
I love that page Harry Soloman!  I'm going to read it more in depth but I'm going to go play baseball now.
John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
Good point Jay.  I have always tried to keep enough moisture in the biochar so that it doesn't become the air that I breathe.  Since I am inoculating it with a mixture of worm castings, compost, urine, and rotten fruit, that's usually pretty easy.
John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
Thanks for posting that article, Trace.  It's useful to me to see newer and more established scientific perspectives on biochar.
John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
Xc skiing, ww  kayaking, more reading, playing music, restaurant s, rubbing dog belly, movies.
1 week ago
If it were me, I'd probably buy them in the spring, plant them in movable pots and try to protect them during extreme cold spells.
John S
PDX OR
2 weeks ago