My recent post on the quest for Terra Preta has gotten some good comments so far.
Reid Moon writes three comments:
“This was a good article that really got my mind working. I started thinking about what animals the ancient Amazon people had around at the time. Goats chickens pigs and fish were what came to mind. Maybe Those should be the sources of the bones and the manure that you should use in trying to re-create the Amazon soil. Those resources might also be Easier to locate and you’re Area. Just a thought.”
“Also fish bones in chicken bones are hollow. They could sit in the soil and absorb and hold nutrients just like bio char. Like I said this was a really good article it got my mind working.”
“Good job David now I can’t stop thinking about this. Something also tells me being in the rain forest there’s probably a lot of moss growing Everywhere. Pretty sure if we use moss in our gardens today for filler and mulch why wouldn’t ancient people be using it back then to do the same thing..
I cannot promise that this will be my last comment.”
By all means, keep commenting. I feel the same way you do – my mind has been turning on it for some time and I finally have a good place to conduct my experiments.
I may be able to get a bunch of deer bones, and we have some chicken, pig and duck bones come through the house from meals right now.
In Florida I used Spanish moss for layers in my compost pile. I have not found it on my land here, however.
“I have often considered keeping rabbits for the manure. As far as we know, Amazonians did not keep any kind of large livestock. Some theories hold that the simplest way to duplicate their results would be to make a bunch of large clay pots and use them as latrines, layering them up with charcoal as you go (this would do a lot to keep them from stinking). When they’re full, cap them with clay, and maybe once a year haul them out to the fields and smash them.”
I was thinking about this, too. We used composting toilet system I built in Grenada which I sometimes layered with charcoal and soil. The problem with doing this here in the states are the various regulations. I could do it, but I certainly wouldn’t want to write about it or sell the resulting produce we grew later. We have an opportunity to grow and sell our vegetables and having someone run across a post on how we use clay pots for toilets and then smash them in pits and plant tomatoes over the top would be awkward at least. Rabbit manure is more acceptable for sure. We’ll have chicken manure soon, too. Perhaps a mix of animal manures could be close. Maybe even stored in terra cotta with char to rot down.
And Gimpgirl writes:
“What about using comfrey as a green manure….just a thought. my father was an organic gardener and as a kid he’d use this, fish heads and seaweed”
Comfrey is certainly a good green manure. I have a few small plants right now but probably won’t get enough comfrey to do much with it this year. It makes a great liquid fertilizer when rotted down in water and could be a soak for charging biochar.
Fish heads and seaweed are excellent. I bet a lot of fish remains made their way into Terra Preta. I am currently using fish emulsion as part of the mix in my 55-gallon biochar-soaking barrels.
An interesting additional fact about Terra Preta is how deep it goes. Often as tall as a man stands, down into the soil. Surface application may not be enough. Instead I might have to dig trenches, then dump materials into them, layering clay, manure, char, food scraps and bones, mixing and covering with the native grit.
It’s a marvelous experiment. Keep the comments coming!
On a personal note, today I am heading to a friend’s house to graft a few different varieties of apples onto his Granny Smith, which should make it pollinate better. I’m working to rejuvenate this tree and get it fruiting for him, as it isn’t doing much now. I should probably film what we’re doing – it’s pretty interesting.