Biochar and leachate and Terra Preta

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Biochar and leachate and Terra Preta
Author: Ken (Ken)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - 7:18 pm
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Hi Shush & others,
Here is a series of video's on youtube that explains a lot on biochar and adding to the garden. Also how to make simple char stoves.

Ken

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E95M3l8ITB0&feature=related

Author: Ken (Ken)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - 7:06 pm
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Hi Shush,
What I usually do is add weeds and left over veggies to my compost. The weeds and other biomass that have larger stems I allow to dry out and then char this. I then add the charred material to my compost in layers. I also char twigs, fruit tree trimmings, blackberry vines, dried, scrap wood, chicken bones, corncobs, avocado pits, just about anything that is biomass.
Take a look at this site for more info and click on the link at the right for a good demo video on how to make biochar. You can also google “Terra Preta” for more information.
Hope this helps.
Ken

http://www.carbon-negative.us/gateway.htm

Author: Shush (Shush)
Monday, August 16, 2010 - 9:52 pm
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Hi Ken/Knothead: Exciting about charcoal, however are we to create charcoal from all garden plants be it weeds or veggies, burn them up into charcoal, then mix in with soil?

Author: Knothead (Knothead)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 7:14 pm
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Thanks Ken. I agree, that does make sense.
I have been doing pretty much the same thing with the layers. When I add a bucket to the pile, I will usually add a layer of biochar and then some grass clippings or leaves for cover material. I also mix the newspaper char with the sawdust for the cover material for the toilet.
I was just trying to come up with a practical way of getting good soil a little deeper. My yard is mostly sand and sea shells and I thought if I dug down a little it would help more. Plus I thought the the charcoal at the bottom of the compost pile might absorb and hold a lot of nutrients that would normally be wasted. We get a lot of rain here in FL and I'm concerned that a lot of stuff just washes out.

Author: Ken (Ken)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 11:03 am
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Knothead,
I've been thinking about your idea. I do not see why it would not work. As far as the char breaking down, I believe from what I've learned, it would take a very long time for this to happen. This should not bother the soil/compost.
I just sprinkle it over each application of the bucket so it's sandwiched between the layers.
Take a look at the video by Hugh McLaughlin. What he says about how the Amerindians did their compost/char makes sense.

http://thinkingglobalactinglocal.com/the-story-of-terra-preta/it-wasnt-all-preta.html

Author: Knothead (Knothead)
Monday, August 09, 2010 - 9:28 pm
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I had a thought tonight.
I live in Florida. It rains a lot here. I sometimes am able to cover my pile but often I'm not home or just too damn scared of all the lightning to go outside when it starts raining.

How would it work if someone dug a pit. About three or four feet deep and about five feet in diameter. The pit would be filled to just slightly lower than ground level with biochar. Not crushed biochar, just the way it comes from the stove. The stuff from all the leaves, fronds, twigs, branches etc from the yard.
Then in the middle of the slight depression one starts his new compost pile.

When the pile got maybe three or four feet high, a new pit and pile would be made in different, depleted areas of the yard.

Do you suppose that the biochar would absorb the leachate and that eventually, after the thermophilic composting was completed and worms and plants were introduced to the area that the biochar might eventually be broken down on it's own?

Would this be a good way to make true Terra Preta?

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