Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘biochar’

August 10, 2013

After touring “Lavender And”, Allan and I were might hungry so we stopped at the delicious Bailey’s Café in Nahcotta.

Chef Jayne Bailey at work

Chef Jayne Bailey at work

We used to take more time to stop for lunches but for the past few years have worked pretty much non stop from February through early December.  My mission this year is to have more time enjoying pleasures like a lunch stop.  We still have not taken many, so I don’t yet have to worry that it is going to result in poverty.  Taking time off to go garden touring…and blog…is more likely to get me in financial trouble!

inside Bailey's

inside Bailey’s

After our excellent lunch we drove back to Ilwaco and a bit to the east to Jim and Vera Karnofski’s Biocharm Farm.   We wanted to get photos for the edible tour Facebook page and had also been charged with the delivery of the signs and tickets for the tour.  The name of the farm refers to Biochar.  To say Jim is a big believer in the stuff would be an understatement.  Here is the Biocharm description of the farm:  “Biocharm Farms is a demonstration mineral augmented organic garden with the goal of maximizing the nutrient density of the vegetables as shown by the Brix Refractometer. The soil is mineral balanced annually and biochar has been added for several years with promising results. There will be handouts and an explanation of these amazing gardening breakthroughs that seem to be converging to make a ‘good food revolution’ possible. Presently, besides feeding our family, we market our produce primarily to [a local] restaurant, Klean rehab facility and Coastal Corner Market. There are 3 gardens about 100 yards apart against a backdrop of forest on which there is a ½ mile trail if you feel like having a really nice nature walk.  “

Jim Karnofski

Jim Karnofski

a charming dog indeed, a rescue from our local shelter

a charming dog indeed, a rescue from our local shelter

I thought for sure I’d remember the name of the cute Karnofski dog, but writing this two weeks later, I’ve forgotten.

You can watch a video of Jim explaining all about biochar.  I believe that I’ve had good results using what I call “pseudobiochar”, the chinky black bits left behind in the burn piles of clients who live in areas where burning is allowed, mixed with dairy manure into garden beds.  I did a test, as Jim advised, of growing carrots (or any crop) in a barrel amended with biochar and one without, the the carrots in the biochar planter got much bigger.

At the entrance to the Biocharm vegetable garden, bins hold piles of soil amending ingredients.

pallet bins

pallet bins

We first walked through the vegetable garden that be seen from the highway between Ilwaco and Chinook; the farm is on the left as you drive east out of Ilwaco, east of the Painted Lady Lavender Farm.

looking east

looking east

bio2

yellow sticky trap to catch insect pests

yellow sticky trap to catch insect pests

bio4

bio6

bio8

bio9

Vera Karnofski

Vera Karnofski

lettuce

lettuce

bredlettuce

a stand of grain

a stand of grain

To the right you can see Highway 101 running next to the farm.

To the right you can see Highway 101 running next to the farm.

looking west

looking west

As we walked along, Jim and Vera harvested vegetables for their dinner.

harvesting

harvesting

carrots

carrot, Allan's photo

gathering dinner

gathering dinner

looking west

looking west

looking south

looking south

After we had thoroughly explored the garden beside the highway, Jim and Vera guided us along a grassy path to a surprise: another garden area almost equally large in a clearing to the north.

grassy path

grassy path

playtime

playtime

another garden!

another garden!

Vera and the beanstalks

Vera and the beanstalks

beans

garden

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

enormous bean pole structure

enormous bean pole structure

beans

Vera Karnofski

Vera Karnofski harvesting dinner

more grain

I should have taken notes on what grains were being grown in the garden.

two large garden beds

looking north, two large garden beds

the garden was hacked out of wilderness.

the garden was hacked out of wilderness.

northernmost bed

northernmost bed

Jim waters down a compost bin.

Jim waters down a compost bin.

In the background, the dog and cat still play.

In the background, the dog and cat still play.

playtime continues

playtime continues

back toward the farmhouse

back toward the farmhouse

more harvesting

more harvesting

Soon after this, Jim realized he had the carrot destined for dinner way back by that compost pile he was watering down.

The spuds were so good that they even tasted good raw.

The spuds were so good that they even tasted good raw.

back to the start

back to the start

At the house, there were ducklings on the loose….

ducks

ducklings on the run

They were under the protection of a large rooster.

He was monitoring the ducklings.

He was monitoring the ducklings.

Vera said they had not had time to clean up the area around the house.  I said I thought there was plenty of impressive garden to show without that area.  Jim invited us in for a beer, but we had to get home to finish the last weeding of our garden. He gave us a couple of freshly dug spuds for our dinner.

Indeed, when I started to go over all the garden beds at home, I desperately wished I had more time to make them perfect, and that we had run the strimmer around all the edges of the beds.  Oh dear.  At least the tour on the very next day did not start until noon so I might have time for some last minute weeding.

Read Full Post »

17 October

Nancy is back from vacation and we get back to work on day two of her new ornamental border.

We are making it with the same method that I used to create the garden in back of our new house.

Here comes the soil.

Here comes the soil.

Peninsula Landscape Supply delivers ten yards of Soil Energy.  We have it dumped onto a tarp so we will not lose one precious morsel into the lawn.

Mike of Peninsula Landscape Supply getting every bit out of the truck.

Mike of Peninsula Landscape Supply getting every bit out of the truck.

We like Mike.

We like Mike.

ten delicious yards

ten delicious yards

The beds will be built on thickly layered and overlapped newspaper.

The beds will be built on thickly layered and overlapped newspaper.

It is difficult to not stop and read every interesting article while laying the newspaper down.

newspaper

It is difficult to not stop and read every interesting article while layering the newspaper over the sod.  (I do not do well with intolerant friends.)

The first wheelbarrow full of soil.

The first wheelbarrow full of soil.

Above, me digging into the pile.  Behind, you can see stacks of newspaper and cardboard.  We spread them just ahead of the area being “soiled” so they don’t blow away before we get to them. On a windy day, I’ll lay some out and throw handfuls of sod from the wheelbarrow to hold them down.

newspaper and cardboard base

newspaper and cardboard base

Newspaper and cardboard laid over the sod and overlapped.  I kind of prefer just newspaper, but it is hard to get enough.  It goes down with more flexibility, especially when tucking it into the edges and around the trees where we have cut out the sod on day one. Newspaper alone must be laid very thickly; eighteen sheets thick is not too much.  Nancy and Phil had gotten new kitchen cupboards and appliances so had lots of big cardboard from the deliveries.

the ceremonial dumping of the first load

the ceremonial dumping of the first load

I really don’t have any special sayings or invocations for this exciting moment.

Six hours later:

six hours later

We have piled the soil about a foot to a foot and a half thick over all the newspaper and garden beds.  Here’s a reminder of how it looked at the end of day one.

before...

before…

an idea

an idea

At the six hour mark, we realize that the composter at the west end of the bed must be moved so the bed can be run all the way along the south side…Otherwise it will not look right.

18 October

The first thing we do on day three is to dig out all the way to the south end; by the time we get to the site, Phil and Nancy have moved the composter.  Because it is a small area to complete the bed, we remove all the sod.

finishing the back corner

finishing the back corner

We still put down layered newspaper and cardboard to keep bits of grass roots from growing.

After we finish spreading Soil Energy even unto the west corner, we add pseudo biochar….not at all scientific, just charred bits from our campfire circle at home.

biochar of sorts

biochar of sorts

biochar tossed onto the garden....

biochar tossed onto the garden….

and raked in

and raked in

The Soil Energy is usually quite hot and steaming, so I never plant in it till it sits for a day in the garden bed and cools off.

The bed now goes all the way back.

The bed now goes all the way back.

Now Nancy and Phil have their own Mount Sod: All the sod that we dug, covered with tarps.  She can do what I did in my own garden and grow spuds in it next year.  The potato crop lived up to its reputation and seemed to clean the soil and help break it down.  I just dug out handfuls of sod, filled the holes with soil, and put seed potatoes in and got a very good crop.

Nancy's Mount Sod

Nancy’s Mount Sod

Next, we will get dairy manure delivered onto this tarp, which we set up the night before in case we don’t get to the site in  the morning before the delivery truck arrives.

prepared

prepared

19 October

We manage to arrive in time to take photos of the thrilling arrival of the washed dairy manure. In many the lecture by Ann Lovejoy, back in the years when she would speak at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, she preached the word of Washed Dairy Manure.

To quote the garden goddess:

“Not just any manure will do, however. The most helpful manure for garden use is well-composted cow manure, preferably from dairies that don’t use Bovine Growth Hormone or steroids. ….Best of all is pit-washed dairy manure, which is collected from milking barns into a holding pit. The liquids (called “effluent”) are captured and returned to the farm fields, while the fiber-rich remains are composted. The result is usually lovely, fluffy stuff which may have wood shavings or bedding straw mixed in.”

It took a long time to get a good source of it on the Peninsula, but now The Planter Box carries it  from the hormone free dairies of Tillamook, Oregon, and I am so happy about that.

The Planter Box truck arrives.

The Planter Box truck arrives.

four yards of cow fiber

four yards of cow fiber

Raymond gets us every last morsel.

Raymond gets us every last morsel.

a pile of beauty

a pile of beauty

And here is the garden all mulched with the manure, on top of the Soil Energy from yesterday.

all mulched

all mulched

We have planted some plants that Nancy had kicking around in pots and a few starts I brought from my own garden.

manured

It is done!

It is done!

Later we will plant bulbs, and in late winter or early spring we will give Nancy some starts of cool plants from our own garden.

Read Full Post »