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Biochar from invasive plants?

 
Tegan Russo
Posts: 34
Location: Maritime Northwest USA, zone 8b
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Most of the biomass I want to compost on my urban property is either invasive (English ivy, bindweed) or at least aggressive natives I don't want sprouting everywhere (horsetail). I already have two huge piles of ivy. Would I be able to get some biochar out of it if I dried it and burned it in a pit? Hoping to find some way to incorporate this material into my compost pile rather than sending all of it to the city's commercial composting. I'm thinking that dried ivy stems and roots count as "wood" for burning purposes?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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I agree this would be an excellent way to proceed. You could try just drying the stuff till it was brittle, but that wouldn't deactivate seeds. Charring will!
 
nancy sutton
gardener
Posts: 593
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Hi Tegan, same neck of the woods, and same 'invasives' ;) Nice to have company in the ivy-bindweed situation. I also have 'Japanese bamboo' and horsetail :) Not to mention quack grass. I have to laugh at their ever-optimistic determination, while I pry, dig, yank, or mulch-smother them out ;) And that's not even the bird-planted blackberries, English laurel, hazels, cedars, etc. :)

Btw, at my advanced age, I can no longer wheel barrow piles of woodchips (sob!) up the driveway, so I haul leaves home in the fall, as general mulch. Keeping them from blowing away is the challenge ;) Also, since Jean Martin Fortier and Stefan Sobkowiak use black plastic in their market garden/perm. orchard, I figure I can cut myself some slack and use it also in areas where I don't have time at the moment to weed. So, down the landscape fabric goes, and to cover, and exclude the destructive UV light, in the absence of chips and limited amount of leaves, I'm using ivy prunings! ... cut to reasonable size to not look like 'brush', even though it will never have the social approval of 'beauty bark' ;) This puts the romping ivy in a whole new light... free biomass/mulch. When it decomposes, I plan on moving the now-safe humus where it is needed, and spreading fresh ivy on the fabric. At least, the bindweed etc. will be surfacing at a known location (the fabric edges) for easy 'reduction' ;) ... and the ivy will be charging in overland!


 
Tegan Russo
Posts: 34
Location: Maritime Northwest USA, zone 8b
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Thanks for the advice! I'm slowly pulling the leaves off all the ivy stems and laying things out on the concrete patio, I don't think they'll dry quickly in the big piles on the lawn.
 
Dale Hodgins
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nancy sutton
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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If snippets of the ivy, or even other weeds (I'm looking at you, bindweed!) do re-sprout/grow on an impregnable surface, like concrete or fabric, they are easy to spot and deal with... they can't easily re-root into the soil. BTW, my relationship with 'rogue' self-planted comfrey plants is also improving. I let them bloom until the first blossoms look like they're thinking about seed production, because the bees just love them!! But, then they're cut for super mulching in discrete locations... under shrubs, veg garden paths, etc., and the mother plants set about giving me 'new material'. I'm tempted to 'apologize' with a slurp of golden elixir, to help them make more mulch for me and flowers for the bees :)
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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