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John Pollard

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since Jan 25, 2013
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Recent posts by John Pollard

Happen to find this thread via a web search for "biochar in potting soil".

In my case, it isn't potting soil but seed starting soil mix. Ran across an attra pdf yesterday called; Potting Mixes for Certified Organic Production , which is mostly about seed starting mixes and includes recipes from Elliot Coleman and others. They also talk about many possible ingredients including biochar.

What caught my eye:

Research conducted at Iowa State University indicates that screened biochar can be used successfully to replace perlite in greenhouse potting media. The high pH of biochar can also neutralize the acidity of peat and eliminate the need for lime. A mix with 30% biochar and 70% peat moss had a pH and physical characteristics very similar to a commercial peat-perlite potting mix

They mention leaf mold being an old school ingredient which was used the way peat moss is today but leaf mold also has beneficial microbes. I've got some peat here and will probably use it along with some leaf mold/humus, biochar, old compost and homemade bone meal. When I up pot them, it will be more compost plus some aged goat manure.

When I run out of peat, I'll use all leaf mold. Hoping to come up with something that's made with 100% materials from the property. We have goats and any bucklings born this year will be banded and when 70-80lbs, processed and consumed. Food plus blood and bone meal/bone char.  

On days that warm up quick, I shut down the wood stove which halts the fire and leaves me with biochar. Not enough to bother with garden use, and where I am, it wouldn't be of any help and might actually hurt. Temperate with heavy soil.

Whatever I don't use to make seed starting or potting mix, I'll save for something. Maybe add it to some compost to be added to a raised bed for carrots that's mostly sand. I can get coarse sand locally at the concrete place.
2 years ago

bruce Fine wrote:many years ago I think it was in populate mechanics they had a big DIY story that showed how they made a solid concrete floor first they put down a layer of crushed stone then used bags of Portland spread out, a rototiller to mix it all up and a hose to wet it all .

Dan Boone wrote:instruction and photos for making "Roto-Tilled Concrete Floors"?

Very cool. I'm going to try that for my shop. I've got a tiller, truck/trailer to go pick up the right sand at a place fairly close and I've got a water tank on a trailer and the tank has 50 gallon marks that I can easily subdivide into 10 gallon marks or even 5. I can get creek rock pretty cheap but I'd probably get the proper rock from the same place I can get the sand.

The tiller tines ought to be nice and shiny by the time the floor's done.
2 years ago

our stainless steel teapot gets nasty and is hard to clean the inside.  

Boil some vinegar in them. Removes hard water stains like lime etc. Same thing as when canning jars get cloudy. It's hard water stains aka minerals. We have lime here.
2 years ago
Good timing. We have a hen that goes broody if more then 8ish eggs collect. She's the last remaining survivor out of 4 hens and a rooster. The rest got killed by hawks but she's smart enough to run across open areas and hang out with goats or dogs. She also lays an egg every day even though I don't feed her. She's completely free range and the coup has an opening she can fly up to get in/out. It's not locked at night.

The ultimate homestead/prepper hen.

So I'm ready to get some more fertilized eggs from the neighbor and let her hatch and raise them but I had a thought yesterday. I wondered if maybe she wouldn't bother sitting on eggs that smelled like human hands. Sounds like I have an answer.

Once I get the eggs, I'll lower the nesting boxes down, full up the feeder and waterer and lock her in with the fertilized eggs.

With her raising the chicks, I imagine I'll have a whole flock of survivors. Once the chicks are fully feathered, I'll quit feeding them.
2 years ago
There's no guarantee that every egg is going to be fertilized just because there was a rooster around. A rooster might not hit every hen every day. I bought 24 from a neighbor and 4 of them weren't fertilized. I know because I broke them open once it was 5-6 days past the rest having hatched. I just tossed them on the ground outside and they still looked like eggs, yolk and white(clear) This was in an incubator so they should have developed something.
2 years ago
I see plenty of vegetation surrounding the yard. Looks like they had trouble growing a lawn. Maybe high traffic, maybe the wrong grasses, might just be the time of year.

The US Dept of Agriculture has surveyed the soil over most of the US and they have a web soil survey tool website for looking up what type of soil there is in a given area. It told me part of this 12 acres has somewhat well drained clayey loam with clay subsoil that has gravel sized to cobble sized to boulder sized rock, and the other part being about the same except somewhat excessively drained all of which I've found to be true. The lines were off but the website warned that the tool wasn't meant for small areas but it was right about the two different soils.

Maybe Australia has something like that?

What are the two big brown tanks? Rainwater collection?

Is there so little rain that it needs them? Might explain the lawn. Everything else looks lush so maybe everything else got watered?

Ahh, I see the pipes coming off the gutter now and going to the tanks.
Too much work and since I'm converting from forest to pasture, I end up with bare soil at some point in the game so I just take whatever I have, spent hay etc and cover as much bare soil as I can, laying it thick enough to stay put in a heavy rain.

I'm 55 years old and just starting the downhill decline. At some point you start to think, "Will I be able to do this in 20, 30 years?" and turning compost will be tough at some point. I'm starting to rethink a lot of things like that. I noticed if I feed a whole square bale of hay to the goats, which I do by simply setting on the ground to use it for seeding said ground, I have a pile that is a little too thick and I need to spread it. Now I split the bales in half and set them in two different spots. Very little spreading needs to be done then, if any.

I was wanting to get busy doing cross fencing but it will still be a pita right now because there's still a lot of seedlings and small saplings, plus poison ivy. The goats do a fine job of walking all over the property since they're browsers so I'm just going to let them keep at it until everything under 6-8 foot tall is gone. As they work on that, I'll keep taking out small/medium sized trees to bring some light in so grasses/forbs/weeds can grow. I do have an open pasture area that I've fenced off as a paddock so I can control their grazing of it.

I've still got a long ways to go here so I don't have time to mess with things like turning a compost pile. Most of the places I throw stuff is still shaded so I don't think I'm losing too much to the atmosphere.
2 years ago
My gravel yard down by the shop it almost a lawn now. Someone just built a house last year up the road from me. The construction company dug all the top soil off, about 12 inches worth, and got it down to clay subsoil. Then they dumped gravel on it, lots of it. I imagine seeds will sprout eventually after some humus washes down into the gravel giving them a medium to sprout and grow in and at some point, she might be down to two tire tracks where stuff won't grow due to being driven over all the time. That's what our driveway between the road and our house looks like now. I just don't drive down by the shop much.

The actual gravel roads maintained by the county are simply graded on a regular basis for maintenance so that kills off grass and weeds growing in from the edges.
2 years ago
PS, I've been watching Greg Judy, Gabe Brown, Allan Savory the past few days and since I'm not getting any younger, it's given me some ideas for letting nature and the animals do as much of the work for me as possible. We have one hen. She's the smart one of the bunch as the rest got killed by hawks. She's also broody if more than 8 eggs collect so I'm going to get another dozen fertilized eggs from a neighbor, lock her in the coop and let her be the incubator this time. She'll be a better mother/teacher that way too I think. As of now, she's totally free range and I don't feed her yet she lays an egg every day. She's smart enough to hang around with either the LGD puppies or the goats most of the time which is why the hawks haven't gotten her. Super homestead hen. One egg a day is actually enough for us since I'm really the only one who eats them. I just want more chickens to utilize as tools. Tick eating machines for one.

I also plan to get some small pigs, Kunekune or a Kunekune mix. I think the goats, pigs and chickens will be a good mix. Ought to help keep parasites down.

2 years ago