gani et se

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since Apr 24, 2011
Douglas County OR
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Recent posts by gani et se

Just wanted to correct that unless it says it is inoculated or charged, it isn't. Really though, it's not that big a deal. Soak it in a dilute urine solution, charge it with compost tea, or just put it on the soil instead of in it to allow the soil microorganisms to begin to colonize it.
From my friend who is in his 4th year of having biochar in the soil: He does cover cropping, no other nitrogen fertilizer. He has had to add some calcium this year, as the rain still leached out enough to make his soil deficient. His cation exchange capacity jumped 10 points between last year and this year.
We have gotten over an inch of rain in the last 48 hours, almost 4 this month. Very squishy in the clay. In my soil that has only biochar added -- I can put in a shovel, and the dirt crumbles. Bloody miracle, that.
Good luck!
Gani
4 years ago
Hi Sheri,
Here in western Oregon, we are heavy clay. The heavier the clay, the more helpful the char seems to be. I did a small hugel-char bed here. Haven't been very attentive to it, and it's only about a foot high. In the trench I put burnt wood. There are irises, oregano, thyme and comfrey planted in it. It didn't get any water through about a month of the summer, and things by then did look a bit dry. It is currently getting sort of starvation rations of water. I stand there for about 3 minutes with the hose on full blast -- not very impressive pressure -- twice a week. Everything but the comfrey looks good. The comfrey is getting eaten by something with 4 legs and fur, or wings and feathers, I suspect.
I think the charred wood I got from a clearcut slash pile. A non-technical way to find out if the char is reasonable quality is by washing your hands after handling it. If the black comes off pretty easily, there isn't much tar. That's the good stuff.
Plain char, smaller and completely burned is good too. I like a mix of sizes of char for mixing in the soil, I make my own (150 gallons this year and used 2/3 of it), and mostly it's 1 inch diameter or so. I may want to sift/grind a little for beds that might grow carrots.
I'm not sure how much to steep the char, don't put it with dry manure; expect it to absorb some moisture. I have a friend who gets char from slash burns and puts it in a barrel with whatever: chicken poop, dead fish, urine and a bunch of water. She pulls it out when she is planting.
I'm a lazy bum, and I just lay mine on top of the ground, mulch over it and let the bacteria colonize it. If you put it IN the ground, definitely charge it. Haven't seen any issues with my method.
Try it, you'll like it!
Gani
4 years ago
Yep. That's it. Those girls are very territorial, and they interpret the bag as a well established nest.
4 years ago
My understanding about wasps is that there will be as many as the ecosystem can support. The goal is to control nest locations. I have a friend who controls them somewhat by hanging inflated paper (lunch size, not grocery) bags in areas where they congregate. I tried this in two spots; the shop and the carport. Shop worked great. Carport, not really. I only put up one bag this year, I'll try 3 in that location next year. Too many good nest sites there.
One more thing, feed the bluejays! They have decimated any wasp nests out in the open around here. (We don't really feed them because we want them hungry enough to eat wasps. )
Gani
4 years ago
I'm not working on the bee hut, but I'll say a couple words about the DeWalt lightweight drivers; LOVE THEM! I've got the drill and the impact driver with the bitty batteries. I'm working with a couple guys who have the old style bigger batteries, and I don't bother picking them up. The new drivers/batteries are a pleasure to work with, lightwieght with a nice balance. The batteries last long enough for an amateur builder, and recharge in about 30 - 45 minutes. I don't use them steady much, so I can't tell you how long they hold the charge. They are 1.5aH. You can get larger batteries up to 4aH, but I don't need them. I have the 2 tools and 3 batteries, and have yet to have to sit idle waiting for a battery to charge.
Cheers,
Gani
4 years ago
I'm sorry, I have no links to John Miedema's system. One reason I like his setup is that he is using char and wood chips to fuel a flame that is fed into a retort. Some of the mobile units in existence use propane. He also is mechanizing fuel feed. The char and chips produce a flame that is fed through a flexible pipe which is inserted into another unit that is producing char and byproducts. He estimates that he is producing enough heat to run 3 chambers, but as this is a prototype, only one is being utilized.
I went to see it in person. Haven't seen anything about it online. Working with a lumber mill, IIRC.
I'll see if I can get pics tomorrow when we char using the ring of fire and the other method, which I think Jim was calling the longhouse method. Fire pictures on sunny day... we'll see. I'll see if the engineers will venture a guess as to percent of char returned.
Gani
4 years ago
I like biochar, though this will be my first growing season with it in place in my soil. I'm in a biochar study group. I hope to sell biochar.
I tend to be skeptical of panaceas.
I think of char as remediation. I live in the Pacific Northwe(s)t where there is a lot of logging debris, and where many monocropped tree plantations are desperately in need of thinning. That's a lot of biomass. I think some carbon sequestration could be achieved by converting a portion of it to char. John Meidema has prototyped a production system which reclaims much of the byproducts. I hope to see it developed for char production in forestry. The expectation is that some can be sold by entrepeneurs, and some returned to the forest ecosystem.
For me, as a gardener, I like small scale production. We are going to burn some of the slash piles on our place on Thursday. There will be a TLUD, and a steel ring 2 feet high and 5 feet in diameter. These will waste heat, but not produce a lot of smoke.
One of the people in the biochar study group is in the third year of growing in biochar amended soil. He says that pulling up plants is easy even in winter, definitely not the case with native soil here. I am looking forward to seeing what the char does for me.
4 years ago
I have a couple places like that on my land. The soil and water guy suggested Christmas trees with the top pointed upstream will catch silt, slow water. I got mine in place two weeks ago, too recently to know if they are working yet.
With that large an erosion and stream flow, whole bales might be better than books
For other ideas, here is the Wikipedia page on revetment. Okay, not too many ideas, but the wooden one makes me think pallets!
4 years ago
Good idea as usual, Dale!
For char, a retort might be a major hassle. A friend of mine is using what he calls a ring of fire to make char, though he isn't using stumps. A metal ring (his is five foot diameter and a couple feet high.) build a fire in it, and feed till you have a big pile of embers. This can be put out with a remarkably small amount of water -- he is using a backpack sprayer to do that. With a stump I'd do a small fire on top of the stump, make sure the ring is taller than the stump(s). Keep building that fire outward till the ring is full of fire and then till the top of the stump has dropped some. If it turns out you haven't burned the stump all the way through, use what's left for hugel base any way. It will partially rot, and the rest will become biochar over a very long period. That's the plan for the movable stumps on my place, anyway.
Somebody cue up Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Don't forget the marshmallows and hot dogs!
Gani
4 years ago
Charcoal = biochar, except some people would say it's charcoal till it's charged. Charging is done with some nutrient (especially nitrogen) rich liquid, like compost tea or urine. And generally, if you are using it for fuel you want the chunks bigger. Though I'm lazy, and don't crush it much. But then, I'm not against a slow approach, and will mulch with char as well. Eventually it will do its job.
4 years ago