• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
garden masters:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • thomas rubino
  • Bill Crim
  • Kim Goodwin
  • Joylynn Hardesty
gardeners:
  • Amit Enventres
  • Mike Jay
  • Dan Boone

Back to Eden and Terra Preta del Indio Hybridization  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 188
Location: Otway, Ohio, USA
23
books forest garden homestead cooking trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The Back to Eden method as I understand it, is layering shredded wood and ammendments on top of undug soil to conserve moisture and provide fertillity. The method of creating Terra Preta del Indio is to pile up significant amounts of plant debris, manure, biochar, ashes, rotted duff from forest floors, and leaves from forest floors. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't these concepts compatible? They both amount to en situ composting, both conserve water, both are highly biologically active... The Terra Preta is a deeper layer laid all at once. In both the new material must be aged before it can grow crops directly in it. Due to these similarities, might I have more success with a hybrid of the two? Say we pile up spoiled hay, shredded wood, used animal bedding, composted humanure, charcoal and ashes, forest floor duff, and leaves into a 4 ft (1.3 metre) deep pule, age it for a year as if it were compost, and then plant in it. Would it be a success?
 
gardener
Posts: 4864
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
557
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Terra Preta was a discovery first documented during the Spanish Conquest of South America and verified in the late 1800's.

The current "methodology" of creating terra preta is actually a sped up process developed by scientist trying to replicate terra preta formation, the original terra preta was most likely accomplished over centuries and not a mulching layer.

The evidence at the original site leads to the idea of "trash and garbage heaps" being burned and then spread over the "garden fields" this was most likely then dug into the soil during the process of planting seeds.
The original depth found at the site was almost a meter thick, this would not happen by simply mulching unless it occurred over many centuries of mulching the same area.
Since we really can't know the original process, but we can make educated guesses and run experiments to compare, it would be more efficient to lay on a thick layer of biochar and turn it into the soil and then repeat this process many times.

With biochar the aging comes before the application on the soil, this is how the char becomes bioactive, populated by microbes including bacteria and fungi.
For these microbes to survive they must not be exposed to the UV light of the sun's rays.

Considering all this, the back to eden method is in no way similar to creating true terra preta.

They can be used in conjunction but the terra preta part would need to come first since it will be turned into the soil.
As far as compatibility, that very much goes for all the differing methods currently being presented to those doing permaculture, biodynamic, restoration, remediation and all the other "more than organic" soil building work.
The trick is to determine how you layer these differing methods for the best effects.

Redhawk
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 188
Location: Otway, Ohio, USA
23
books forest garden homestead cooking trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can't really dig in my intended plot, it has a lot of rocks. But I can slash and char, followed by layers of waste materials, shredded wood, and duff from the immediately adjacent forest. I hope to build a thick layer of humus in which to grow a garden in the area which is probably a hair more than an acre. It is not currently suitable due to the rocks and grass. I would show you a picture but I am 2 hours away and have a lot of packing to do.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4864
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
557
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No worries Ryan, your plan will work quite well.
To speed up the process see if you can make some mushroom slurries to spray over the amended area,
the fungi spores will grow into hyphae and devour much of the organic material which will allow the humus and humic acids
to seep down into the soil and condition it for the roots which will drive themselves down into the soil below you thick mulching layer.

Rocks are not a problem for most roots, they will simply move around them and bacteria will use enzymes to dissolve the minerals for utilization of both themselves and the plant roots.
The fungi will help the roots take up water and minerals thus your plants should do quite well once the system is chugging along.

If you build compost heaps and add char to those, the char will become activated by the microbiome of the compost heap, just add that as a layer every time you amend the plots.
In a few years you will have that rich, black earth called terra preta. 

While this sounds backwards in method (to my first post) it will do exactly what you are desiring. 
It will be Back to Eden with additions of biochar, the microbiome you build this first year will continue to grow and nourish for years if you tend it.


Redhawk
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 188
Location: Otway, Ohio, USA
23
books forest garden homestead cooking trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
By mushroom slurry, do you mean I take a bunch of mushrooms and water and run them through my blender? Can I use the cheaper almost spoiled ones?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4864
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
557
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, use spoiled or almost spoiled edibles, non-edibles can be used in any state of freshness.
I've even taken throw away Portobello from the grocery store and just broken up the caps and stomped them into the soil.
What we are looking for are the spores so any method that will get those into the soil is a good way. Slurries are just more efficient at doing this.
 
pollinator
Posts: 265
Location: Maine, zone 5
23
food preservation forest garden homestead solar trees wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ryan, whenever I mulch I lay down a thin coating of biochar before laying down the mulch layers.  Over the years the biochar works its way into your soil and the results seem quite nice.  During the lifetime of a gardener a garden will get mulched a lot of times and you'll build up a beautiful biochar full soil.

I'm a bit uncomfortable laying down the thickness you've proposed in one year, but I've never tried it and would love to hear how it goes for you.  Try a relatively small experimental area to see how it works out and please let us know!
 
gardener
Posts: 2268
Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
264
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't these concepts compatible? They both amount to en situ composting, both conserve water, both are highly biologically active... 

  I think you are quite correct that there is potential compatibility between the two systems.  As mentioned by Bryant, I would put the first addition of nutrient inoculated biochar on the soil surface.  I personally don't follow the method of tilling, and don't find it necessary in general, but that's me.  Anyway, I would then add a thin layer of your wood chips that have nitrogenous materials like manure or thinner greener plant material added.  Then water this with fungal dominated teas, and subsequently add more layers of chips, which you wet down with either mushroom slurry or fungal dominant compost teas.  This will greatly enhance the breakdown of your chips into the carbon rich soils that BTE is known for, and this will also further inoculate your biochar at every turn.  Later, you can add biochar to your transplant potting soil, incorporating it this way as you plant out young plant, or by layering it underneath new additions of chips, as Greg suggests.  There are other ways to get them into the living matrix, but as Bryant mentioned, biochar is best in the soil or into the layers of the mulch itself and not as a surface treatment where it can dry out.  That said, I have intentions, if I get my biochar system happening how I dream it (with large volumes), to use the finest biochar dust to powder the top surface of my soil.  I am wanting to do this specifically because in my climate which is generally cool temperate with a long dormant cold winter, the darker the soil surface is the faster the snow melts, the faster the beds warm up in the spring, and the more heat that the beds absorb so that they can be planted and growing food for me.  A friend of mine spreads char on his snow itself in order to facilitate melting; he doesn't even add much but each black piece forms a hole in the snow that increases air flow and melt water speed.  It really works wonders.  He is working his garden sometimes a month before his closest neighbors.           
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 188
Location: Otway, Ohio, USA
23
books forest garden homestead cooking trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Greg Martin wrote:Ryan, whenever I mulch I lay down a thin coating of biochar before laying down the mulch layers.  Over the years the biochar works its way into your soil and the results seem quite nice.  During the lifetime of a gardener a garden will get mulched a lot of times and you'll build up a beautiful biochar full soil.

I'm a bit uncomfortable laying down the thickness you've proposed in one year, but I've never tried it and would love to hear how it goes for you.  Try a relatively small experimental area to see how it works out and please let us know!



My compost pile is usually about 12 ft (4 m) high at the end of each summer. By the next summer, it is only 2 ft (0.66 m) high. This is basically a huge compost pile. The way I stack it, there are air channels. These fill in over time as it rapidly decays. I speed up the process by adding urine for nitrogen, without which the woody debris and brown leaves would take longer to decay. The 230,400 cubic ft (6524 cubic meters) pile at the new place will use manure to accomplish the same thing. Since it ages for a year first, I can use uncomposted wastes. (Though the proximity to the river may be an issue legally if I do.) This is just a really big cold compost pile.
 
gardener
Posts: 2433
102
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ryan-
That is a kickass compost pile!
If your soil is really almost dead, I would add mulch food for your fungi along with the fungi.  So that would be wood, stalks, evergreen leaves or anything that doesn't decompose rapidly. That should work great with the mushroom slurry.

Also a general rule that people have used is "never throw out a rock smaller than your fist from your yard" because as Redhawk has explained in other posts, the lichens and fungi can extract useful minerals when your soil gets good. They also help drainage and decrease anaerobic situations.  BOth good. 

My plan is to insert my biochar about 3-6 inches deep into the dripline area of my trees with a pitchfork. A broadfork could also work. That way, I don't disrupt the mycorrhizal fungi communities, nor the other microbes, but they do go into where my active feeder roots can use them.  They do have an alkalizing effect on the soil.   

I have been also doing similar to Back to Eden.  Wood chips every year.  In my food forest, I chop and toss, so the prunings go under an unrelated tree. 

I think your plan should work, but as you can see, I do see a clear difference between them, but they work together.

John S
PDX OR
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 188
Location: Otway, Ohio, USA
23
books forest garden homestead cooking trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Getting the material is the hard part. I plan to call up all the tree trimmers, the public utillities, and put a sign out front inviting people to dump wood chips, animal bedding, yard waste, and food scraps in my front yard. As the stuff arrives, I will spread it over the field: adding forest duff, biochar, rotten wood, and mushroom slurry as I go. I innoculate my seeds with mychorizae. The vegetable scraps are processed by chickens before being spread on the field. I may even move the chickens into the area before spring planting to eat bugs and weed seeds.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2433
102
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ryan,
If you're making a food forest (and in Ohio, that makes sense) you won't need to scratch to get your materials eventually to maintain the organic matter.  My food forest has matured so I'm not in dire need anymore, and it is quite resilient and productive.  I'm a nerd so I'm always trying to find out about some weird new vegetable, berry, or medicinal plant, but it is no longer necessary.
John S
PDX OR
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 188
Location: Otway, Ohio, USA
23
books forest garden homestead cooking trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Saltveit wrote:Ryan,
If you're making a food forest (and in Ohio, that makes sense) you won't need to scratch to get your materials eventually to maintain the organic matter.  My food forest has matured so I'm not in dire need anymore, and it is quite resilient and productive.  I'm a nerd so I'm always trying to find out about some weird new vegetable, berry, or medicinal plant, but it is no longer necessary.
John S
PDX OR



The field will mostly be for veg and grain. I have other areas in mind for food forest. They will be apple and prunus sp dominated, camelias mixed with the maple groves, and bamboo dominated respectively.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1979
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
60
forest garden trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would be concerned that any nitrogen rich material that was buried 4 feet deep would be prone to anaerobic decay.
Charged char, is airy and full of aerobic life, carbon is a sponge, and seems to draw fungal life.
I would bury either of these, but I'm curious what  Jay thinks of  this.

I also have land filled with stones, so I add soil, rather than trying dig much.

I build beds with wood on the bottom, dug into the dirt  foot or so, followed by a mix of greens and autumn leaves, manure, pee , etc.
I then plant them with comfrey, or j chokes.
Once the contents of the bed seem like  soil, i knock down the walls of the bed.( they are rudely made from  pallets,and ready to fall down on their own ).
I get a half or third of the volume i started with, spread out over a larger area, filled with living roots.

Mind you, I must chop and drop the comfrey and chokes till my bushes,trees, etc are well established, but it keeps the soil covered.
I probably aught to switch to a deep rooted annual cover crop, but the chokes are always at hand...
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 188
Location: Otway, Ohio, USA
23
books forest garden homestead cooking trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a graphic representation.
IMG_20180709_121705.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20180709_121705.jpg]
 
Roberto pokachinni
gardener
Posts: 2268
Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
264
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would switch it up a little, though your system might work.  I'd still be quite worried about nitrogen lock out with the chips placed at that level. 

Considering what you have posted in this diagram, I would either add the chips as one of the first layers on top of your sod or right after your cardboard, or as the final layer, on top of your duff.  The lower layer, would act as a sort of hugulkulture,[i] assuming, first off, that you have enough other materials above it so that most of your roots are not directly interfacing with the woody material.[/i]  The upper layer, however, is the more natural layering, such as when a branch or trunk of a tree falls on the forest duff and, after a time of contact, breaks down into soils.

Now, as far as looking at the rest of the diagram, what it brings to mind is the follows:

The general laying of material in nature is with dense carbon as the top layer, unless it is a log that is so rotten, and generally has a soil interface with fungi, that it has mosses and soils building on top of it's upper surface; and even then, the fungal interface has entrenched the log so much at that point that nitrogen lock down is not as much of a concern.  You have a really mixed up layering that I'm not sure will be the best use of your materials.

I would split up your amendments and potting mix differently as well. 

Here's what I would do, considering what you have said/written in your diagram.

If you are going to lay cardboard down then it really is best to mow the area.  It is also good practice to saturate the area first before layering the cardboard, as it will not get any significant water for a bit with the shingling effect of the cardboard, and the water will facilitate the rapid breakdown of your sod layer.   You can even put a thin layer of compost and mycilium rich straw on the sod, under the cardboard, to help facilitate the break down of the sod.

Take a third or more of your biochar for your potting/seedling mix.  This will ensure that the biochar get's involved in your plants right away.  Unless you have tons of it, then add less than a third for sure. 

Most of what you are putting on, according to the diagram, is carbon rich.  I would personally lay it, beginning with the wood chips, on top of the cardboard with some, maybe a quarter, of your fungi/straw mixed with your chips.  This will be a tremendous boost to the wood chip's breaking down as the straw will create pathways, and tunnels in the chips for all kinds of micro climate / niche habitats, and the fungi will jump right into the chips.   Moisten each layer as you add it.  Carbon rich material really likes to be moist for break down. Then lay a mix of a quarter or so of your straw with all your duff, and put it on top of the wood chips, again moistening it.  Adding/mixing this straw in this layer will have much the same effect on your duff as I mentioned with your chips.  

Then figure out where you want your plants, and transplant your seedlings from pots into the mix.  Dig a hole in your carbon rich material that is about three times the size of your transplant plug, and water it full.  While it is draining into your carbon mix, dig a few more holes.  When the hole has drained, line the hole's sides with your remaining half of your straw / fungi mix, and then lay in compost on the bottom and around the seedling plug filling the hole. to surface level.  By the time the roots hit your massive carbon layers there will be significant breakdown, and the seedling will also access nutrients directly through the cardboard layer once the fungal interfaces join together.  Water your seedling well and keep it moist for a couple to three weeks, and thereafter,  leave it alone as long as you think it can handle so that it is chasing moisture with feeder roots into your wet carbon zones  This type of use of your resources, the way I think of it, maximizes the effect of your compost and your amendments.    

That's what I would do, anyway.  And it seems to follow the ideas that are laid out by folks like ruth stout, and others.  
Take half of your amendments and add this against your sod, which will help break the sod down, and boost the mineral zone/subsoil as the fungi and deeper tap roots will mine it there.



      

 
Roberto pokachinni
gardener
Posts: 2268
Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
264
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
And add a little bit of your straw around your seedling for surface mulch, to protect your microbial growth in your seedling/compost  !
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 188
Location: Otway, Ohio, USA
23
books forest garden homestead cooking trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The diagram is not to scale. I had to make the layers all about the same thickness in it to fit the labels. In reality the cardboard will be quite thin, the straw and mulch quite thick and seeded with mushroom spawn, the ammendments are going to be applied less than 1/16 inch thick, and the duff only about an inch to keep the ammendments from being washed away. These layers will be repeated other than the cardboard as time goes on.

In important change in timeframe has been made with the help of an expert composter outside of this forum. I still intend to build up a really deep fungal dominated humus layer, but it will be built about 1 ft at a time. The important thing brought up by my friend was that if I built the pile all at once, it might burst into flames. This actually happened with a large pile he managed because it was too big.
 
And inside of my fortune cookie was this tiny ad:
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!