Friday, 14 October 2011

Tuesday 20th September 11

Up surprisingly early, thought I'd had a lie-in and came down at 8.30.  Weird. Maybe something to do wih my cold?

However, I made reasonable use of the time, today doing loads of apples for drying, making up my muesli, dealing with correspondence and phone calls, washing up, writing.

One thing which was quite exciting was I made a charcoal retort, and successfully made several batches of 'biochar', and next year I'm going to experiment with adding this to my potting mixes to see if it increases productivity.  The retort is a metal container or tin made of steel, with a close fitting lid which slides on and off.  In this I've punctured a pin-hole.  When any organic material (in the chemistry sense, ie anything which has come from living things, and is composed mainly of carbon) is subjected to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, the water is driven off, then the volatile materials are driven off (and burn in a jet coming out of the hole) and that leaves a matrix of almost pure carbon, or charcoal, or biochar, which has a variety of uses.  I'm interested in its use to add carbon to soil, and its supposed ability to increase soil fertility and crop productivity.  I made a batch of willow twigs, which made really good drawing sticks, like are used at the Steiner School.  I will probably make a big batch of willow stick charcoal to give to the school later this year.

At 4pm I got ready to go to work at David's.

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