Rather than worrying about barrels and flues and infrastructure, it’s time to start making easy biochar!
As I wrote Friday, I’m attempting to enrich a chunk of lousy dirt in the middle of my front yard. My food forest project is suffering in that area.
A not insignificant part of that attempt involves biochar. As regular readers know, I’m an obsessive and extreme composter.
I hate letting anything go to waste – so when I see neighbors cutting down trees or throwing out yard waste, I ask them to send it my way. Last year, two different families dumped piles of oak branches over my front fence for me.
They’ve sat there long enough that the lower layers have decomposed, enriching the ground beneath – but the top was perfect for burning:
So… burn I did. When I burned, I let the fire get down to good hot coals, then raked out the still uncharcoalified pieces of stick and log and made them a foundation of a new fire, then put out the remaining coals with the hose.
I got this:
In the end, that stick pile yielded a 1.5 trash can’s worth of biochar.
Biochar is a nutrient-holding amendment that should be perfect for Florida’s sandy soil. My next step is to mix this char into a drum of wet compost and let it soak in microbial life and nutrients. Then I’ll spread it around and mulch over it.
I’ve seen all kinds of more complicated ways to make this stuff. I prefer just building fires and putting them out. If I’m not making easy biochar, I won’t be making any! Besides, the last thing I need is another corner of the yard being consumed with a Char-O-Matic SuperDrum or something.
Are you using biochar in your garden? Any luck? Let me know!