Making Terra Preta: Did Our Experiment Work?

Last year we attempted to make terra preta in a test garden bed:

Here are the results we’ve seen, as of this week:

In this video, I dig into our terra preta test bed and see what we can see.

For the first season, everything grew very well. But this year, the good growth stopped. My theory is that the trees are sucking up the fertility, but it could also be that the area we charged is running out of fertility. We buried bones, charcoal, manure, biochar and pottery shards in an attempt to make terra preta.

Another possibility is that we need to make a lot more fine char, to really darken the ground with carbon and provide more hiding spaces for microlife.

Of course, some people don’t like my attempts to recreate ancient technology:

It beats me how trying to recreate terra preta means that I fail to appreciate terra preta, but there are a lot of daft people running around with access to the internet.

Can we make terra preta again? I have no idea. But we’re going to try. We have a lot of wood we can chop for char here, especially as I start coppicing trees late this winter.

Stay tuned.

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Published at Fri, 18 Nov 2022 12:23:05 -0500

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