I grow a lot in wicking beds.
My growing medium is mostly peat.
Obviously this sucks for the environment and self sufficiency.
Im making about 20 gallons of char per burn, easily enough to fill a half barrel.
Other than low acidity, I think it should work, but before I fill a couple of converted refrigerator wicking beds with it, I thought I should ask the permie crew for input.
These bed will probably get sbottom heat, and may be used to start cuttings, so anything about that interaction would also be useful.
So if I recall correctly, the wicking beds are the ones where you fill the container below with water and the bed draws it up to the plants? If so, I don't see any problem with that working with biochar.
We should 1st get some bio into the bio-char. Which means that we 1st have to leach out the compounds that is in the fresh charcoal.
Depending on the temperature that the biochar was made it can it can either have alot of tar/acid (low temp) or it can have a lot of ash residue (high temp). Once we are certain that all of those compounds are gone. Its time to add it to the wicking bed. The usual way to do that is to just let it age for in the rain with some greens and brown. Maybe we could drop them in in a tank full of aerated compost tea/etc.
When using such a large proportion of biochar it will be particularly important that it is well washed to remove the soluble ash compounds, and then ideally inoculated. I'm visualising this like a layer 12" or so deep, with potting mix/soil/compost etc in a layer on top to plant into? You can potentially skip the innoculation if the growing layer you are using is nutrient rich, and will get replenished regularly. It will charge over time.
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I wouldn't skip the inoculation unless you're willing to give up two years of productivity. 14 days of inoculation seems like a good deal to get 2 years of productivity, but it depends on your situation, how you make the biochar, what your schedule is, etc.
Thanks for the replies.
I've been pretty haphazard in my inoculations so far.
The char gets doused with rainwater.
Then its sits, some times for weeks, some times a day.
Then it goes into the chickencompostingyard.
That certainly adds nutrients and biology, but its a haphazard set up.
I just toss in stuff and the chickens do the rest.
Occasionally I harvest the compost by raking off the bigger woody bits and shoveling the most frangible stuff into buckets.
The last batch when into a new raised bed.
The bed is filled with compostables.
I have made no effort to supercharge the char with nutrients, other than an occasional bottle of pee added to the raised bed.
I didn't even mix the char in, though I do have an auger that is good for mixing soils and fed, so I might go back and do that.
If I were to intentionally inoculate, I suppose a barrel with a bubbler or fountain would be ideal?
Then one adds live soil, compost, sugars or starches, plant juices, etc?