Buying charcoal is for chumps. If you have access to wood and steel drums, you can make your own charcoal. It’s easier than you think.
And while you’re at it, you can also make biochar, which is incredible at improving garden soil. It can actually clean your soil by binding together pesticides and other contaminants. But it also binds together good nutrients like nitrogen, thereby preventing leaching.
There are several other reasons biochar is great for garden soil, but the main takeaway is that by using it, you will significantly boost garden production. In this video by Big Family Homestead, Brad says he saw a 40% increase in his output of fruits and veggies.
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Here are his instructions for making charcoal and biochar.
What You Need:
- Plenty of wood.
- A small steel barrel (around 30 gallons will do).
- A larger steel barrel (55-gallon recommended). Make sure there are holes around the bottom so oxygen can get sucked inside. If there aren’t, make some.
How to Make Charcoal:
- Fill up the smaller barrel with wood.
- Put the smaller barrel into the larger drum facing the opposite direction so that the wood is completely enclosed. (To do this, it’s easier to put the drums on their sides and slide them together.)
- Stand up the barrels, and make sure the smaller barrel is centered inside the larger barrel.
- Load wood into the larger barrel. Get it all around the inner chamber.
- Set the wood on fire and let it burn for three or four hours until it’s burned completely down.
- Let it cool off, then dump it over, and you have charcoal. Ta-da!
How to Make Biochar:
If you also want to make biochar, there are a couple more steps.
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- Put some charcoal in a bucket and smash it until you have nothing but pea-sized pieces.
- After this, there are a few options. You can mix it with compost, you can soak it in a nutrient-rich solution like fish emulsion, or you can do like Brad and soak it in worm castings tea.
Watch the video below for more details.