Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Terra Preta Experiments Urban style with Wood Charcoal

Here is the finer charcoal charging before I add to the beds.

A little larger size.

Now that would take me a lot of work to get the charcoal that small!

Now those are big bags of charcoal bits. My Humphrey charcoal order arrived on Thursday and I immediately put a bunch in a bucket of compost tea I was bubbling up.

The air stone goes into the mix of charcoal and worm castings.

Update ~ After hand crushing 4 - 9 pound bags of lump charcoal with my shovel, I decided to search for a company that specializes in larger bags of charcoal for garden use because I am running out of time and the chunks appear to get larger with every batch. This is a photo of my 3rd batch and as you can see, I am getting lazy and the chunks are getting bigger. The orchid charcoal or fish tank charcoal is too expensive for my use.

There aren't many companies I could find that sell charcoal for home use. I contacted Humphrey Charcoal for help with grain sizes of their charcoal. They were very helpful in my quest and are one of the few company's that have granulated charcoal for garden use, they sell 50 lb bags and no chemicals is a good thing for my terra preta soil amendments for my organic garden in suburbia. Humphrey website is http://charcoalbq.com/viewcategory.php?groupid=7

Just got my pump, hose and bubble stone for charging the charcoal chips.

Since I don't have room or time to make biochar and the county may not like burning I decided to try to break down some wood charcoal for this purpose.

Today I crushed one bag of grocery store charcoal (note must be made of wood(Look like wood) and no chemicals) the brand I got was Cowboy. I added water and let soak a few hours and started to crush the charcoal with my shovel. One bucket held the extra water, because it needs just enough water to crush with sloshing. And there wasn't any dust with this method.I then added worm castings and molasses to the soaking water and the charcoal and I used
a pump to charge the charcoal.If no pump is available the mix can be stired a few times a day.

I am going to keep trying to crush more and see how small I can get the pieces. Because our soil clay is very dense I don't think I need broken pots, I will make the charcoal chunky for air pockets. I will let you know how it goes and any interesting notable discoveries with the grocery store method. I still have a few more days to try to get it smaller. Now all I need is to find some more open bags so I can get a discount or better yet a free source of char. I would like to do a side by side comparison, but I probably wont, I remember back when I was I kid I used to charcoal at the bottom of my plants and the plants were lovely, I had a green thumb and didn't do much. Now it's hard for me to keep a house plant alive. I am going back to that method for house plants and will update the blog later.

Check out these experiments.

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