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Charging Biochar for use in Forest Garden

 
Karen Walk
Posts: 122
Location: VT, USA Zone 4/5
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I can make as much biochar as I want... my question is how best to charge it. I have a small pond (about 700 square feet, ~20,000 gallons). There are currently three muscovy ducks living in the pond. I would like to use biochar to soak up nutrients in the pond and then use the biochar around the forest garden and regular garden.

Can I just throw a burlap sack full of char into the water? Is it better to put use a solar pump to pump the water out of the pond - maybe over some rocks and the biochar? This will aerate the water and make a nice little waterfall. Will the biochar turn out any better? Is there any way to tell when the biochar is sufficiently "charged"? There are certainly nutrients in the water left by the ducks, but it won't be the same as covering the biochar with pure manure.

Thoughts?

Thanks!

--
Karen
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Karen Walk wrote:
Can I just throw a burlap sack full of char into the water?


Yes.

The problem with charcoal of any type is not getting microscopic stuff to stick to it; it's to get it off so you can use it again. Once it picks up small organic molecules, bacteria and fungi are interested in it because there is food there. Once bacteria and fungi move in, protozoa aren't far behind. Soon all the little nooks and crannies in the open structure of charcoal are teeming with all sorts of life.

Since you are using it for its nutrient retaining properties, you really don't care about recharging it, so once it has soaked up a lot of nutrients and bacteria from the water, it's good to go.
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Karen Walk : Even allowing for burlap bags put through a hot water, hot temperature drying process, to pre-shrink the fabric I would expect the charcoal to bleed out
of the bag especially as water is run on it or it is pulled out of your pond !

If you have the ability to create a shallow kids wading pool, say a tarp draped over a BIG Tractor tire and then filled with water, you could entice the ducks to the new
pool, Wait until they have fouled/fowled the water, let nature add a little algae, put your bagged bio-char in the pond, soak over night, and Bob's yer Uncle, drain the
water, let the bag drain and then inoculate with any handy Mycelium spores !

Even though more and more people are talking about no-till I would grind most of it to powder, nothing bigger than a peanut. Dig it in and ether plant a nitrogen fixing
plant. or give it an occasional drench of Urine cut 50/50 with water and see what happens !

Basically, I don't think beyond guarding against a technique that loses/wastes most of your Bio char you can do anything Bad ! For the Craft ! Big AL!
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Karen Walk wrote:I can make as much biochar as I want... my question is how best to charge it. I have a small pond (about 700 square feet, ~20,000 gallons). There are currently three muscovy ducks living in the pond. I would like to use biochar to soak up nutrients in the pond and then use the biochar around the forest garden and regular garden.

Can I just throw a burlap sack full of char into the water? Is it better to put use a solar pump to pump the water out of the pond - maybe over some rocks and the biochar? This will aerate the water and make a nice little waterfall. Will the biochar turn out any better? Is there any way to tell when the biochar is sufficiently "charged"? There are certainly nutrients in the water left by the ducks, but it won't be the same as covering the biochar with pure manure.

Thoughts?

Thanks!

--
Karen

Yes Karen your burlap bag technique is the simplest low tech but very effective method of charging biochar. As long as you have small enough pieces of biochar and not big lumps of charcoal. You have to give room for the micro herd to get in there easily. Good for you, good for the pond, good for the biochar then good for the soil.
 
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