Trace Oswald wrote:Not soaking actually, but I mix mine in my compost pile as the compost is being made, and by the time the compost is ready, it is teaming with worms and other tiny crawlies, so good things are happening.
In subsequent experiments we have been successful in creating high quality and economically feasible compost/biochar blends that are majority compost. We have found that the two ends of the spectrum – vast majority biochar or vast majority compost – tend to be the best products, largely due to economics and application rates.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:Good ideas on how to get char to the bio char stage.
Here's how I make mine, and what I'm currently doing with it.
Create the char and run it through my hammer mill (wood chipper), I have a bag that fits the discharge tube which collects the broken up char nicely, I end up with mostly small pieces (less than 1/4 inch).
I make aerated compost tea most of the summer months which is used in over most of our land that we grow our foods and pastures, so I have good microorganisms available most of the time.
I empty my bags of processed char into a food grade barrel I labeled for this purpose to prevent cross contamination issues then I spray the barrel with compost tea and drop the lid in place.
Every time I am going to spray compost tea, I do a test of the filled sprayer into this barrel, I never "soak" the char, just let what I spray trickle as gravity decides.
When I'm ready to use the char, usually about a month has passed at this point, I make a few sample slides and check these under the microscope for organism counts.
I tend to find well populated pieces as well as non populated pieces but the average is heavy towards the populated (biochar) pieces.
I have one area that is being used as a terra preta test site and this gets additions of biochar twice a year which are spread then shallow tilled in.
I am one full year into this test site and with two applications the terra preta currently extends 6 inches into the soil, no bleed effect has started as of yesterday.
I have also created a char compost heap for the purpose of documenting the progression of microorganism population.
This heap has been inoculated with four doses of mushroom slurry and the heap is composed of layers of straw from the chicken house, donkey and hog manure and spent coffee grounds.
Between a set of these layers, which are each 3 inches thick, I placed a 3 inch layer of fresh char that had been crushed through the hammer mill.
This heap has been added to every month from March to September this year and it shows greater microorganism population than the "barrel" method being tested.
We are getting ready to re-do many of our garden beds this winter and come spring I will use this char compost heap to top dress the beds for beets, beans, onions, garlic, carrots and the squash beds. (That is going to use up the quantity I have currently)
At the end of the summer season I started to inoculate a batch in the garage... I used castings, urea, chicken manure, molasses, water and flour. It was a liquid slurry that I mixed daily..... For about 2 weeks. At that point it was too cold to add it to the compost pile so I just left it to winter in the shop... Frozen 1/2 the time, I'm pretty sure it went anaerobic. What are the hazards of using this as is, should I add some beer molasses and an aerator first or just mix it into my raised tomato bed and hope for the best? I inoculated the bed last season with Bigfoot micorhize.
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