- Making Biochar using dry mulch
- Mulch is loaded into an old beer keg
Biointensive Growing in a Permaculture System
Before I found out about permaculture, I was studying up on the bio-intensive method of growing food, and was about to dedicate the whole property to a biointensive farming system. As it happened, permaculture swept me off my feet and into a swirl of fascinating ideas and possible directions. As the dust settles now – as my head drifts gently out of the clouds, the bio-intensive idea is still glowing, but not as something separate from permaculture, but as a potentially integral part of it.
Permaculture has always meant heading in a direction – a direction toward sustainability, both in agriculture and culture. But what is it doing to us in the meantime?
It’s a leap to shift from thinking that there must be one right thing to do, one correct way to see a landscape, or best practice for developing a sustainable food system, to the discovery that there are many mutually beneficial things to do, many useful ways to see a landscape, and many developmental paths which can be taken toward sustainability.
“Biochar can be made cleanly and effectively on a home-scale, using a biochar retort.”
Biochar is a desirable material for anyone looking to improve their soil. Buried, it acts as a water retainer, nutrient trapper, and home for beneficial bacteria and plant roots, and it continues to support life and fertility for thousands of years! On a home-scale, biochar can be made from waste wood or mulch, using a biochar retort.
- Produces biochar – a permanent soil amendment
- Burns clean and hot
- Can be used for heating or cooking
- Can be fuelled with waste materials
- Close the gas-out valve on the digester
- Open the gas-out valve on the collector
- Turn off the gas-out valve
- Fit the effluent bucket securely
A Brief History
It’s been two years since I began work on the backyard, and it’s been a chaotic process of trial and error and learning. My aim has always been to grow lots of food, but the ideas and ideology driving me have evolved at the same rate as the backyard.
What do I think it is?
Permaculture is a vector through which people can learn and apply themselves to affect change in a landscape toward a regenerative, life-supporting food forest system. Well at least that’s how I see it. It is a set of principles and techniques that is freely available to read about on the internet, and courses are run all around the world to disseminate its message.