Valley Journal
Valley Journal

Burn smarter for clean air

Sunny days are a treasure in this valley until, however, clean air is ruined by the smoke from improperly managed burn piles. Neighbors, please read this before burning your slash. Stop creating a heath hazard for all of us. The smoke from one fire can fill this valley until the next rain. And please don’t burn anything with plastic. With simple biochar know-how we can enjoy the clean air of our beautiful valley. There is a great solution. Please read and share this lesson in proper fire etiquette:

Cover your piles with a tarp until you want to burn to keep dry. Do not burn leaves. Stack your larger wood on the bottom working up to smaller woody material when possible, about 3 feet in diameter. Top light your dry piles.

Top lighting is the key essential. As your fire starts from above, the heat releases the volatile gasses and there is full combustion. When you light from below, all the pile smokes as it begins to slowly heat up and smolder. Top lighting is faster as the fire moves down, until in one moment, it consumes the whole pile in a clean burn, and the charcoal will fall below. When the fire slows down, separate burning material to one side for more air, and a more clean burn. Pull aside the charcoal and douse the coals with water before turning white. Shovel coals into a wheelbarrow or a bucket, and chop up with a shovel while adding water until it is a stew-like mash. Haul off the wet coals to the garden to be mixed into the soil. The charcoal becomes biochar and will be habitat for soil bacteria and fungi, providing nutrition for your plants for thousands of years. Instead of tending a smoky fire all day this process will take you just three hours start to finish, without smoldering ashes nor deeply-singed earth. This is how natives in the Amazon built soil.

Biochar is neutral and regulates soil PH, while ash is more acidic and not good for the soil in large amounts. Plants can be started in crushed biochar similar to perlite or vermiculite, with better results. Ideally you would inoculate your biochar by putting it into the chicken coup to absorb the bacteria and keep the smells down. Or, mix into your compost pile to have the charcoal fill with microbiota. You can also buy beneficial soil inoculants and mycorrhizae off Amazon or from a local nursery supply store. This becomes a source of food for your plant roots forever.

We all in the valley thank you for top lighting your dry piles.

Please pass this information on to your friends neighbors and loved ones to better enjoy spring and fall.

For more information as to how to properly burn with very little smoke and great natural fertilizer use see https://pacificbiochar. com/resources/.

Also please kindly notify neighbors if their stove fires are smoking. Most people don’t realize when the fire has partially gone out and the neighborhood is suffering in a plume. We all need to do our part to help keep our air clean. Thank you.


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