This year I am going to participate in both the Rock Dust and Biochar field trials. The idea here is to use 4 different plants and test the effects of these products on their health and production to see if they are beneficial for the home gardener. I plan on using tomatoes, peppers, kale and mangel beets. The peppers and tomatoes I am going to focus on small bodied fruiting plants. We have a short season so the larger bodied fruit may not have time to ripen which may compromise the results of the study.
Rock dust is produce though by pulverizing hard rocks with the appropriate trace minerals in it. the finer the size the better for gardens. Rock dust provides the trace minerals often missing in soil and claims to assist in microbes life cycles. The two main types of Rock Dust are Azomite and Gaia Green Glacial Rock Dust. I highly suggest the smallest particle size available. The smaller the size the more likely the material will become bio-available, or available to the plant or microorganisms for use.
Biochar is produced by running organic material like trees through pyrolysis which removes everything except for the carbon frame. The carbon then holds water provides nutrients, allows microbes to live on it and finally sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. I am going to apply my biochar to my soil at a rate between 10 to 20 percent by weight. Prior to adding the biochar to the soil I will be charging it with compost. I will add 2 parts compost for 1 part biochar by volume as appose to weight. The key is to make sure the combination is moist not soaking and left for 2-4 weeks. It is important to mix it and leave it open to the air. The biochar will uptake nutrients and allow the beneficial microbes to get established.
for more information on the trial check out the documents section of our Google+ page. The trial document outlines the procedures we will complete to set up the trials. I will also be posting videos and blog entries in the future setting up the trial. Feel free to follow along or join us in the trials! We can always use more eyes on the process and results or participants!
The Home Garden Field Trials Google+ Page
I have been working with a number of groups to bring this trial together and would like to bring your attention to them.
The Alberta Biochar Initiative:
and the Prasino Group who donated the Biochar