Monday, November 26, 2012

Farmer Dave vs. the Econopocalypse - Episode VIII: Winky and Ricky Make Biochar

In which two crazies have fun burnin' stuff and all dat.

(I admit, this one is a little weird. I dunno what happened. I gave my camera to Winky and let him have a try. When I got the footage back, I almost died laughing.)

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At November 26, 2012 at 7:59 AM , Blogger Leon said...

I saw the word biochar nad I remembered -

Just in case you didn't know :)

At November 26, 2012 at 10:10 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

I didn't know - thanks for the link. Are you going to attend?

At November 26, 2012 at 10:50 PM , Blogger rycamor said...

As I mentioned to Dav--uh... Winky, I did a much better biochar burn a few days later, with brush and larger branches from 22 trees that had been cut down. I burned larger branches for 3 days, coating them with leaves each time, and then added a final covering of wet leaves about a foot deep. Then I left a sprinkler running on that smoldering mass for 3 whole days before the smoldering finally stopped. Result: several wheelbarrows of fine charcoal mixed with decaying leaves, and a few larger pieces of charcoal perfect for barbecuing.

Of course, I had to do all that without the color commentary, but I managed.


At November 27, 2012 at 6:32 AM , Blogger Leon said...

Yep, unless there is some major catastrophe .... I will be driving from Dade City area by myself it looks like, so if you're interested in carpooling let me know. I know some of the people who put the Convergence together and the last their event I attended was a blast, not to mention that it was great to find out that I'm not the only person in FL interested in this type of stuff :)

As for the biochar - I need to look into it deeper (the Convergence should be a good place for that - they plan to make a bunch and then cook all meals on it) but my first instinct is that in FL it may or may not worth all the troubles. There is very little organic matter, etc in our soils - it's all in the plants, which is typical for sandy (sub) tropical places. I wonder if all the good stuff will be washed out of biochar too quickly. On the other hand, buried logs are usually completely gone in a few years (vs. several or more in temperate climates), so I wonder if we can just skip the step of burning it to make it more available to plants - seems that in this here climate insects/bacteria/fungi/etc. don't need much help with that. And since I'm very lazy I'm all for letting somebody else to do my work if they want to, so to me hugelculture seems like a better approach, at least in our conditions. Just my instinct though - didn't have a chance to play with biochar yet.

At November 27, 2012 at 8:32 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Cool! My wife and I are contemplating attending, providing we can get someone to watch the kids.

Also - according to what I've read, biochar is supposedly quite useful in sandy soils since it doesn't break down. The layer of char slows down nutrient leaching and provides a place for beneficial bacteria and fungi to gather. We shall see. I'm going to bury bits of it here and there and see if the grass/weeds start to look healthier.

At November 27, 2012 at 8:33 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Of course you'd wait until you were off camera to finally do the Most Incredible Burn Evar!!!1!!!111!!!

At November 30, 2012 at 6:10 AM , Blogger Leon said...

Slows down leaching? That would be a great thing. Looking forward to learning the results of your experiments!

At November 30, 2012 at 8:39 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

I'll post as I experiment, provided I get in gear and pull it off.

One thing the biochar did work for was cleaning up herbicide residues in a couple of my raised beds.


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