Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Been hearing a lot about biochar for a couple years and how it can save the world.

you hear about oxisols transformed into rich, abundant terra pretta over the course of hundreds of years of biochar application. you hear about amazonian paradises.

Biochar is organic matter burned in a low-oxygen setting. It's used as a soil amendment and it's got the added benefit of sequestering carbon back into the earth. Here's what it does for garden soil:
  • increase moisture holding capacity and aeration
  • increase organic matter and nutrient efficiency
  • improve habitat for beneficial soil microbe homies.
Lots of folks talk about making biochar in steel drums to keep out oxygen. We decided to go with digging a pit. Being surrounded by earth on 5 sides keeps oxygen input minimal. As the blaze grows, the wood we add to the top smothers new oxygen from reaching the coals. It's not perfect, but for us, the added benefit of chillin' around a fire is worth it. If you're gonna save the world at least relax while you do you know.
the first iteration of our bio-char fire pit.
after some sawing in the snow, the project's instigator (the chief of char) wised up and dug a new pit next to a big brush pile. conservation of energy. this pit's bigger, so you have to crawl in to light it, which is really fun. 

"I'll just put your camera on the 'girl in pit lighting fire' setting." Credit: Ben Samuelson

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