It’s spring time and Jordan and I have been working on our garden. We’ve been collecting manure (alpaca–free on craigslist) and shredding leaves in order to get the beds ready. Jordan actually planted some lettuce and peas today (we’ll see if they come up). If you want to get a garden in this year, check out this post for an easy way to get started!
Lately I have been reading about Biochar. Biochar is charcoal, used for agriculture purpose. It seems that it helps aerate the soil, help it hold water, helps bioavialibility of nutrients and retention of fertilizer. Also, charcoal increases the activity of microorganisms that are essential to soil health. Here is a 50 second video on Charcoal in corn production:
Charcoal was an essential part in the making of Terra Preta in the Amazonian Basin 1000 to 1500 years ago. Ancient Indians practiced an advanced form or soil management to create a super soil that is still fertile after all of these years. The soil is sold today as compost and fertilizer to “regular soil”.
For gardeners, converting charcoal is a relatively simple process. Soak real wood charcoal (not the briquets) in water with a couple of tablespoons of molasses/compost/manure/urine or a combination for a few weeks. The charcoal will now crumble and can be added to the soil. If the lumps are a little big, it is ok, because the plant roots will break it apart with time. For those of you in Cleveland, I’ve found a local supplier of charcoal bits (while soaking increases the microbial activity, you can put the bits directly into the garden). I hope to pick some up within a couple of weeks. They have a 10 (50lb) bag minimum, so let me know if you want me to pick up some extra for you.
An added benefit of using biochar is that it can be used as a long term sequestion of carbon. In other words it can reduce the Carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere and help to stabilize the climate.
Biochar.org has a great list of other videos under documentaries.
Article on Treehugger. There are some great links in the comments section.
Terra Preta and Biochar Articles.
Superdirt Made Lost Amazon Cities Possible? A National Geographic Special:
Previous posts of Interest: