Bio-char!!! The dark underbelly of the garden.

  • Bio-char!!! The dark underbelly of the garden.

    Posted by Squashmania on February 19, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    *Carbon sequestration, making bio-char is a carbon negative action

    (Unlike compost, which releases carbon)

    *microbiota habitat

    *holds 7x it’s weight in water (this alone should have convinced you) ….I had you from hello. 😁

    *does not “wash out” like Perlite

    *does not need renewed annually like peat moss *Lasts multiple human lifetimes in the soil

    *was part of terra preta in the Amazon

    *Must be charged/innoculated with compost tea, incorporated into compost (10%), urine or animal waste prior to putting into a growing area…or it is an absorber, and will absorb soil nutrients around it and give you a terrible harvest, for at least a season or two. Then, it would be “charged” and you would be off to the races. Moral of the story, charge first.

    *Binds toxins to it. Removes toxic gick.

    *Excellent animal supplement, and as the animals eat and excrete, the biochar is charged “on deposit”.

    *Able to be made at home very inexpensively and fed with local scrap wood on hand

    *Several methods to create bio-char, from a hole in the ground to massive kilns. Small kilns and retorts can be built or purchased.

    *Could be another income stream on the homestead.

    *Neighbors will be happy to donate their tree scraps and nut hulls.

    *Increases plant size, yield size, plant vigor by encouraging plant/microbiota relationships in the soil. Think of it as for plants and bacteria/fungi.

    *Is deactivated by commercial salts based fertilizers. An organic or kinder-gentler method of gardening is encouraged.

    *Incorporates well with a broadfork.

    My one question for DTG is this….can I charge my bio-char with DFSW, it being anaerobic, and all. I keep seeing people charging it with compost in a bag in water with a bubbler (compost tea), which is 180 degrees from DFSW. If this is ok to do (after all, it goes on the garden) do I need to dilute the DFSW before placing the aforementioned char there in?

    The majority of this information was obtained through Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast, episode 3250. He is a massive wealth of information with his podcast going back 15 years. Everyone can learn something, which is high praise.

    Dale623 replied 1 year ago 7 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • BiggKidd

    February 19, 2023 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve been building a supply of char for sometime now. Guess I’m getting close to having 50 or so gallons to use this year. I hadn’t seen the one about feeding it to the farm animals, need to look in to that. Thanks

  • PetraTilling

    February 19, 2023 at 9:13 pm

    What is DSFW?

    Thanks for summarizing this great episode.

    • Squashmania

      February 26, 2023 at 2:10 pm

      David the Good has a t-shirt (and a song) about composting your enemies. What he really means by that isn’t returning your ex to the land, but using weeds as fertilizer (cue the creepy music and the deep echoing bwahahaha laughter from deep inside the castle)

      HOW TO MAKE:

      I have a 55 gallon pickle barrel that is dark colored with a well-fitted lid. I had it filled 2/3 with water. A smaller barrel could be used (30 gallon plastic barrels are somewhat common) Putting this beauty near a hose is more than ideal.

      I have a LOT of weeds. As I pulled weeds (mostly the green parts because I didn’t trust this process to deactivate the seeds) You throw weeds, urine, animal manure…heck, I chopped up a bluegill and put that in. And then you add something heavy to keep all that stuff under the surface of the water. I used a nursery stock pot with some dirt in it. A piece of firewood, etc, would also work.

      You want this weedy wonderland under the water because you are now looking for ANAEROBIC breakdown of the aforementioned weeds.

      Y’know how compost tea requires water, compost in a net bag, and an aquarium bubbler to encourage aerobic microbiota proliferation?

      Well, DFSW isn’t like that at All. It’s easier. It is a set it and write a date on the calendar kinda thing. He recommends 3 weeks to let this elixir of the land rot down and become worthy.

      So you have filled the vessel with water, put in your bunches and handfuls and bags of the corpses of the enemy (weeds), and weighed it down. Next, that tight fitting lid goes on, so your property doesn’t turn into a mosquito refuge and breeding colony.

      Then walk away.

      Write a date 3 weeks from now on the calendar or in your phone app.

      –3 weeks has passed–

      You go to the barrel. It looks like when you left it. You are now going to gird your loins. Really. Because anaerobic breakdown isn’t for the faint of heart. And when you open that barrel, you will want to flip off the lid and like a fine wine… Let it breathe. It isn’t the bog of eternal stench, but could get a runner-up nomination. Important point. This stuff is only stinky when the barrel is open. When it is dilute and on the garden, the smell is much less noticeable, and after 24 hours, can’t really be appreciated.

      Decanting this eau de vie (water of life) is a challenge for me. I don’t have my barrel on a platform, or have a fancy spigot in the bottom, which are all permutations on design. A large ladle or pot to pull the DFSW out is pretty ideal. You can dilute it as much as you want, but David recommends from 3:1 to 10:1. So, 3 parts water, to one part DFSW. I think of the scoop I am using as “one”, so I know how much water to add.

      Important point. Because the anaerobic bacteria are different from aerobic bacteria, you don’t want to put it directly on plants you are about to consume. ( Like pouring it on the whole bean plant, then picking beans) Instead, fertilize at the BASE of the plant or around the root zone. If you have used this in the last 24 hours, just make sure to wash your garden goodies before eating. This is SO hard for me to remember, and I am a garden grazer while I am picking.

      I leave all the weedy bits in the water to continue to rot, while adding more weeds and water and continuing a perpetual cycle throughout the season. I have dumped a barrel out and put all that in the compost pile and started fresh. I have overwintered a batch to have a Spring jump start ready.

      I hope this helps, or it was at least entertaining.

      • Squashmania

        February 26, 2023 at 10:10 pm

        The Tin Man biochar retort system going strong on day 2. Day 1 batch is getting charged with DFSW. We have a lot to go, but we have a lot to burn. This system was the permaculture answer to all the brush we have around the property. Something good to do with honeysuckle.

      • PetraTilling

        March 2, 2023 at 11:34 pm

        This is a beautiful thing. I just happen to get recommended a DTG video on this VERY topic the day I asked this question. I watched the whole thing and your explanation is awesome! Thank you. I have a new fire pit (bowl) and now I need to get my hands on a barrel.

        Funny, I think this process accidentally happened with a compost barrel that I purchased last year and have been tossing chicken poop and weeds into for a year. It has a hose on the bottom and I opened it up once, and only once. The smell made me gag hard.

        I plan to have the Vicks ready for when I open it up to see what I can use in the garden or move to an open compost pile to calm down. I’m afraid for my neighbors when that day comes.

        Thanks again and happy growing:)

  • Squashmania

    February 26, 2023 at 2:19 pm

    Usually with the animals you can put it out as a free choice item. They know when they need some detox. And the microbiome in the animal’s gut charges it for you, so when it is redeposited on the ground, it is garden ready. I just found out that you can innoculate biochar with DFSW (I put a lengthy description of that elsewhere in this discussion)


    JMS (JADAM microbial solution) made with leaf mould and boiled potato.

    I feel like I am such a powerhouse of potential with the combination of these techniques. This is going to be an amazing season.

    All the best! Grow ’em while you can!

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by  Squashmania.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by  Squashmania.
    • MaryBeth

      February 28, 2023 at 4:56 am

      Great post. Thanks for sharing. 😊 I just finished a JADAM class. I agree, JMS should be a great addition to the biochar. Now I just have to decide upon an efficient system to make the biochar. Take care.

  • Njorun38

    May 8, 2023 at 11:25 am

    First of all, bio-char seems cool in its own right. As for the composting thing… I’m skeptical of the whole “composting creates carbon emissions” thing. It’s not like burning fossil fuels or mining— this has gotten out of hand, far away from a well-intentioned minimizing of the excesses of harmful industrial gasses, to nitpicking the very foundations of life, while still letting corporations get away with massive amounts of industrial pollution. They want us to minimize nitrogen in farming, fertilizer, etc., and minimize carbon in composting. Well, plenty of important life-saving medicines create nitrogen, and breathing creates carbon. Just plant more trees and try to get off of fossil fuels, do more decentralized family farming instead of industrial farming. That’s it. Let’s not make it more complicated than it has to be, or next they’ll start taxing us for breathing. Composting is creating a negligible amount of carbon— it’s just the decaying process of nature, it will happen with or without our help because it is a fundamental law of how nature works in the cycle of life. Just grow enough trees to make it balanced on a global scale. No need to nitpick that which is vitally necessary.

  • South

    June 14, 2023 at 3:21 am

    My peppers this year in beds I mixed biochar into last year. I have never had peppers look like this in June! They are fruiting already.

  • Dale623

    June 24, 2023 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks for the infi.

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