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Old 31-08-2011, 12:46 AM
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Hi All,

Meant to post this a while ago but forgot all about it, I have edited it in the light of more recent information.

Purchased a garden shredder at the end of last year to make the task of breaking down my special charcoal and compost mix less time consuming. I did not believe that I required a heavy duty shredder, just one which would fulfil the task. It seems to be fit for purpose, as in, rendering down the mix into an easily handled and peat like tilth.

It also renders down hedge, soft wood trimmings and the like for composting, this I believe shortens the composting time when EM's are watered over each batch together with spent coffee grounds when added to the bins.

I have found that the inoculation process which my special charcoal is subjected to, makes the charcoal more amenable to shredding. By this I mean that the charcoal and charred carcasses fracture quite readily.

The forest wood used to make my charcoal is native soft wood I believe that most of it is ash, pine, birch and sycamore.

I'm just glad that my purchase does the job as I could not have afforded a more expensive shredder in any case.

The breakdown of vegetation is certainly improved by the addition of both EM's and spent coffee grounds. I sense that there is much more heat within the bins. This maybe due to the addition of the spent coffee grounds, however this not something that, as yet, I am prepared to confirm.

The bottom line is that, this experiment is about creating, or cultivating, a better soil, this is what we are attempting to achieve.

We can I believe recreate a TP type soil, not only that, but through the use of EM's, can protect our crops from disease.

The four basic ingredients a-

Charcoal, VAM's, EM's and Yeasts which seem to have a definite affinity with each other. All have different roles to play, however when brought together a very special change takes place.

I have thought about this, and why it should be that such a change takes place. I think that I am getting closer to understanding this, however to do so I must divorce myself from any and all science based logic. This logic was necessary at the start of my experiment, but the deeper I delved into the subject the more I felt that science did not really understand how Mother nature actually works.

Organic plot holders know how the soil works, if they put their minds to the task, they should be able to learn what I have learned. However I have not declared all that I know due to of the lack of input from others exploring the TP concept.

All that I will say is that simplistic thinking is the key to understanding TP, the road that you follow is best served by Mother nature's laws!

Tony seems to be achieving excellent results using Comfrey as the base liquid for his inoculation of charcoal. I am slightly flummoxed by this as comfrey, as far as I am aware is not indigenous to the Amazon delta.

It may well be that there are herbs and plants specific to climatic regions all over the world which are capable of creating a TP type soil. It would seem logical that Mother nature would endeavour to ensure that this TP type soil would be made available to all who chose to explore such a concept regardless of climatic conditions.

The micro-organisms which create TP are not, I believe temperature specific, in that they are capable of adjustment to all and any conditions. This is their sphere of influence, it is they who first existed on this planet, it was also they who created soil from the first dead vegetation on land over millions of years. This created an environment capable of sustaining so called higher life forms on this newly evolved land mass.

Flora would by now have been extensive for those life forms who were about the inhabit the land. Mother nature seems to have a specific plan by which she creates life forms. However all her creations require that micro-organisms be present in vast numbers to continually make nutrient available from the waste products and demise of her creations.

The fact that we modern humans no longer see Mother nature as the giver of life is a great problem. We modern humans think that the air which we breathe, the food which we eat and the water which we drink will always be there to sustain us.

Therein lies the problem, we think that what ever we do that these resources will always be there to sustain us, not so!!!!!

Mother nature will seek to defend her own creations at the expense of modern humans.

I'm no tree hugger, however what I have learned in the past 4 or 5 years is that we modern humans are like children playing with matches with regard to chemicals and nuclear power. It would seem that if safeguards are a problem to profit then safeguards are ignored!!!!

For all our supposed superior intelligence and free will we have become a liability, we make bad decisions which affect the eco-system.

We need to get back to Mother nature as it is she who provides us with strong immune systems capable of warding off disease.

I remember as a child eating earth to see what it tasted like, and being dared to eat a worm, this was part of growing up for me. The earth and the worm I spat out, however I ingested some the bacteria associated with both worm and earth.

Being stung by bees, wasps and nettles and bitten by horse fly, midge, gnats, ants and a host of other insects gave me a strong immune system at an early age. What's more my immune system was now primed to act upon any similar incident. Everyone in those days had some herbal or homoeopathic knowledge to deal effectively with such traumas. This knowledge seems to have fallen by the wayside, it is now antihistamines which are the preferred option. Well maybe its just me, but I don't see this as the way to give a child a stronger immune system.

I don't remember anyone dying from such stings and bites in my childhood. There was no panic, simply because I had learned a lesson not to antagonise these life forms or get to close to them as with nettles.

I am always reminded of the saying "anything which does not kill you makes you stronger", this was my parents view of such events.

In those days parents would hold a mumps, chickenpox, measles or German measles party for the local children, whereby all local children got infected at the same time. Parents would keep a check list of all the diseases which their child had succumbed to.

This I believe was beneficial to the children of my generation, in that, by the time we were 10 or 11 years old we had been exposed to all or most of the childhood diseases. This I believe gave us stronger immune systems at an early age to be able to cope with disease.

Now this is a fact that we all should take cognizance of, 95% of all life on this planet are micro-organisms!!! The other 5% is made up of insects animals and humans, This is how insignificant we modern humans are in the scheme of things. It is best that we learn this lesson before its too late, if we continually decimate micro-organism populations they are well capable of mutating into a form which would devastate the human race!!!

I don't regard myself as being particularly intelligent, however I when I get involved in something really interesting I endeavour to take it apart and then reassemble it. If it does not rebuild then the concept is either flawed or insufficient information is available to do so. This is when I trawl the internet for the necessary data to complete the task if possible.

With the TP concept it was obvious in the early stages that science was wearing blinkers. This is not a put down of science, however it is my opinion that to solve the riddles of Mother nature it is necessary to follow her path.

Simplistic thinking I am now sure, is the key, there was an inventor whose name I don't recall who stated that "If your gut instinct tells you that there is a simpler methodology, then there most probably is". This is the thinking which will unlock to door of TP.

The bottom line is, get back to Mother nature and understand how she works, cutting down vast tracts of rain forest only increases the wind speed across our planet. Trees are the means by which wind speed is controlled the more trees we cut down the greater will be the wind speed around the planet.

This is science 101, why is it that no one is speaking out about this increase in wind speed across the planet.

It is there for all to see, to my recollection it started approximately 6 or 7 years ago and has been building up ever since then.

Maybe its just me but the more trees we cut down the more storms will be created which will have a devastating effect upon our lives.

These are just my thoughts, others will disagree


The mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless its open

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Old 19-10-2011, 01:08 AM
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Hi All,

As you may remember I planted out 42 cloves of Vayo last autumn, these have now been harvested and dried.

Two of the non-inoculated cloves died off during the winter so my results are based on 19 of the healthy bulbs of both inoculated and non-inoculated cloves.

My findings are that there is almost a 35% increase in harvested weight of inoculated to non-inoculated bulbs.

Now while this may be a long way short of the 150 to 250 % envisioned it is still a major step forward.

My other crop findings were as follows :-

Shallots:- an increase of 38%.

Onions:- an increase of 30%

Dwarf French beans:- wife collected some for sister in law, this put paid to any evidence of increased growth!!!!

potatoes:- an increase of 45%, this I found to be contrary to expectations, as in, alliums are supposedly more micorrhizal orientated than potatoes. But as I have said this is a learning process, and it is what we establish in actual results that count. It should also be noted that the only manure used was chicken manure in pelleted form.

However it should be noted that a dilution of EM's was added at the time of planting, as with all my other crops.

sweet corn:- A very poor summer meant that I got nothing from my efforts!

Leeks:- the leeks are flourishing and I can see a difference in growth between the inoculated and non-inoculated plants both in height and girth. This data will obviously be available next year as they are a winter / early spring crop.

Drying beans:- a disaster, during the high winds experienced in Scotland during September my bean structure collapsed breaking most stems at ground level. The beans never recovered, however next season I will be cultivating them on my new plot which has more shelter from the wind. I did manage to salvage most pods, however they were so tangled up and broken that I could not tell which was which!!!

The plants did achieve a height of 10 feet on the inoculated plants and 8 feet on the non-inoculated plants

It is my belief that increased growth is related to the amount of inoculated charcoal and compost within the soil. The more inoculated charcoal which we add to the soil, the better will be the results of our harvests.

I see a time when all that will be required will be to spread sea weed on the soil in the autumn for the charcoal to soak up. In the spring this will be dug into the soil along with compost, EM's will breakdown this rich nutrient base into a form easily assimilated by the VAM's.

Charcoal is a bio-accumulator, as in, it has the ability to soak up great amounts of nutrition then release this nutrient to the plants via the VAM's. The more inoculated charcoal the greater the number of VAM's and the amount of nutrient uptake by VAM type crops.

This nutrient in its raw form will be further broken down by both VAM's and EM's to ensure that our crops receive higher amounts of nutrient in a form which their roots can easily assimilate.

I will be adding comfrey to next seasons inoculation mixture, the nutrient value of this herb and the vast array of trace elements which it contains is quite astounding.

I am now convinced that comfrey is worthy of inclusion into the inoculation liquid, however I will still be adding molasses due to its affinity with VAM's.

this is, and will be, an ongoing learning process, however I must be honest enough to see this addition to the inoculation liquid as being worthwhile.

It would seem that comfrey is such a case, fortunately I have no problem in accepting comfrey into the inoculation recipe.

I spent weeks delving into its nutrient advantages when used as a fertiliser and am satisfied that it will bring much worth to our experiment.

comfrey contains the following:-

Vitamins A,B,C and E.
Minerals:- Calcium, chromium, cobalt, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, tin and zinc. It also contains many trace minerals. Comfrey is also one of the richest sources of silicon in the botanic world.

Chemical Constituents of Comfrey

It is also worth noting that Tony has used a much longer saturation time for his inoculated charcoal, this may also be of relevance to the end result.

Yet I still believe that the restoration of VAM's and EM's to our soils is the key to recreating a Terra preta type soil. I say this because our soils are in very poor condition, we need to find a way out of our chemical cultivation of the soil!

This form of agriculture is not only killing life within the soil, it is seeping down into the water table to poison the water which we drink. It is also killing life within our streams and rivers, what's worse is that we are allowing this to happen!

Now the real advantage of adding inoculated charcoal is that year by year we will increase the number of VAM spores within our soil.

The VAM increase within the soil I believe is relative to the amount of inoculated charcoal added to said soil. This will cause the creation of many more VAM spores ready to infect the roots of all endo-mycorrhizal type crops. The molasses within the inoculation mixture will I believe ensure their survival.

Once we divorce ourselves from the chemical form of cultivating the soil we should see the results begin to take place. Life will return to the soil, and with it will return all the necessary mutual symbiosis which Mother nature has deemed essential to the cultivation of crops.

This is how Mother nature works at this level and it is best that we let her do so. She after all knows what works, whereas we have shown immense ignorance in our cultivation techniques!!

As I have said before it is my belief that our indigenous VAM's and EM's have been denatured or killed off due to the use of inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and weed killers. It is now down to us to redress the balance of nature within our soils.

Unfortunately things are going to get much worse on the financial front. Greece is an enormous black hole sucking up money that it can never possibly hope repay.

In a world which is apparently teetering on the brink of financial ruin we would best fend for ourselves!!!

We must think of what vegetables we need for the necessities of life. Potatoes, peas, marrow fat peas,carrot, turnip, beans, Brussels sprouts and a host of other vegetables all have their heritage varieties.

We would do well to seed save from these varieties because at the moment things are only going to get worse.

I say these things, not as a harbinger of doom, but as a wake up call, we must start cultivating heritage crops which are good croppers, store well and breed true to type.

And remember that we,I believe can increase the harvest potential of these heritage crops through the use of inoculated charcoal, VAM's, EM's.

So buying heritage seed stock is a must for those who want to keep cultivating the soil for food!

At the end of the day each of us must make decisions as to how they go forward, for me it is heritage seed stock.

Just take a look at seed garlic prices, on average up by nearly 40%, and that does not include postage and packing which is also on the increase.

These companies know that we will pay up because we have nowhere else to go. However if we get back to seed saving from heritage crops we can dispense with them!!!

We must all re-learn how to seed save from our crops to nullify increasing costs, choose heavy croppers and long keepers. Allow one or two of your crop like leeks, onions and garlic to go to seed each season for this purpose. It may even necessitate buying a small pollytunnel whereby this seed can be started as soon as seed is collected.

Tomato seed will keep for between 5 to 7 years.

Peppers and beets will keep almost as long.

Peas, beans, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts will keep for 3 years.

Squash, cucumber and melon will keep for 5 years.

Corn, onions, leek and salsify will only keep for a year.

These time periods are based on proper storage of said seeds, and also on the manner of collection.

However this is an indicator of what can be done to reduce our reliance on seed catalogues.

Personally I would let the biggest of my crops to go to seed, thereby ensuring the vigour of the strain.

Crops which have shown increased resistance to disease or insect attack would also be seed saved.

We have so much to re-learn with regard to cultivating by Mother nature's rules, my own perception is that our ancient tribe's people knew a hell of lot more about cultivating the soil than we do in this regard.

These are the things which we will need to do, the tiny cloves from seed garlic which are normally thrown away, will be kept. These will be grown on, dried out, then re-planted out in the autumn.

These are just my thoughts others will disagree.

Why save seed?

Seed Saving Introduction - Allotment Vegetable Growing

Seed Swap what to save


The mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless its open
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:42 AM
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Hi All,
When thinking of seaweed I am reminded that on Shetland it is the main fertiliser that they use. The other is sheep manure, the cows are to few in number to make a realistic difference to the outcome.

They don't wash the seaweed, it just goes onto the soil and the rain does the rest and come spring it gets dug into the soil. So why should we be washing our seaweed, it makes no sense to do so!!!

Their crops are much sought after by wealthy and high class restaurants as are their sheep whose sole diet is seaweed / grass.

We need to re-think as to how we cultivate our soils, leaving a good amount of seaweed spread over our soils during the Autumn and winter will I believe have a devastating effect on the slug population. It will not I believe have an ill effect our soils, however the salt content will seep down to those slugs who reside there during the winter months.

Interestingly there are slugs and snails on Shetland, and they not killed off by salt water. They have over the centuries become immune to salt water. However our mainland slug and snail population have no such defence against sea water

Shetland is battered by sea spray all during the winter and yet they grow good crops, so sea salt is not a problem to growing good crops.

I don't know who came up with the idea of washing seaweed, but it would seem to be less than well thought out scenario. Sea salt contains every known trace element which our crops need to stay healthy.

Not only that, but these trace elements released from the salt into our soils will have a beneficial effect on the crops which we cultivate.

These are just my thoughts, others will disagree.
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by RaviAuto View Post
Before firing up the grill the night we had lamb burgers, Steve carried trowelsful of charcoal ash over to the garden and scattered it around the base of each plant. Its good for the plants, he said, citing his Peace Corps housemate as the source of this knowledge.
Hi Ravi,

Your friend is correct, however having said that the effect of the ashes will be short lived and washed out of the soil..

To get true increased growth in the soil would require that charcoal VAM's and EM's together with organic compost be dug into the soil.

the mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless open.

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Old 11-11-2011, 12:20 AM
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Hi All,

I have planted out 34 cloves of Bella Italino garlic,17 of which have been given inoculated charcoal compost.

The other 17 have been given normal compost, as always I use a bulb planter to ensure that the cloves receive sufficient nutrient where it matters at the roots.

The 17 cloves given the special charcoal compost were also infected with VAM's to ensure that viable VAM's would infect the roots and thereby give the garlic greater amounts of nutrition.

To boost the effect I have also added a handful of inoculated charcoal to each planting hole. This I hope will increase the number of VAM's and therefore the end yield of garlic.

This is the first time that I have cultivated this particular garlic, large cloves coming from Italy with a strong flavour. I like a garlic which bites back, it has much greater health benefits if eaten raw, once cooked it is merely an aid to digestion.

Raw garlic if rubbed onto the soles of your feet will be evident on your breath within 30 seconds, this was an ancient method of treating severe bronchitis. The patient was seated upright on the bed and the soles of the feet were plastered with mashed raw garlic and then bandaged. The plaster was changed every 4 hours this remedy saved many an ailing person from an early demise!

I have also planted out 32 cloves of Vayo in the same fashion,as with my Bella Italino cloves I first gave the soil a good drench with concentrated EM's. I then left the soil for a week, to allow the acidity of the EM's to dissipate then planted my cloves.

I have no idea what the previous allotment tenant planted out or where she planted it. So thought that drenching this soil with neat EM's would be helpful In outnumbering any harmful bacteria or fungi residual within the soil.

I like Vayo both for taste and for its keeping qualities, however German red were my favourite but sadly no longer seem to be available in the UK.

We had our first frost tonight much later than usual, our usual first frost date is mid October it was -1 deg tonight 5-11-11. You can usually tell by the state of courgettes and runner beans as they are very susceptible to frost damage. Down at the allotments it was more evident the next morning, the runner bean wigwams all had blackened foliage.

Every other shop in Glasgow is selling snow shovels in anticipation of a hard winter, do they know something I don't know, or just cashing in on the fear factor?


The mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless its open

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Old 14-11-2011, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by uriel13 View Post
Hi Ravi,

Your friend is correct, however having said that the effect of the ashes will be short lived and washed out of the soil..

To get true increased growth in the soil would require that charcoal VAM's and EM's together with organic compost be dug into the soil.

the mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless open.

I was advised that coal ash and BBQ briquettes should not be composted, so I keep them out of my compost bin.

Also what I've found important is to find the best location for my bin. I was told that a compost bin should be placed in a moderately shady area in order to help with the breaking down process. For this reason, I have placed my compost bin near the garden shed or near the back of the property.

Also I've found that no matter where the bin is placed, it is imperative to anchor it, possibly using the ground, garden sheds or trees in order to prevent anything from tipping the bin and causing a mess.
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Old 15-11-2011, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveStevenson View Post
I was advised that coal ash and BBQ briquettes should not be composted, so I keep them out of my compost bin.

Also what I've found important is to find the best location for my bin. I was told that a compost bin should be placed in a moderately shady area in order to help with the breaking down process. For this reason, I have placed my compost bin near the garden shed or near the back of the property.

Also I've found that no matter where the bin is placed, it is imperative to anchor it, possibly using the ground, garden sheds or trees in order to prevent anything from tipping the bin and causing a mess.
Hi Dave,

As you say coal ash and BBQ briquettes should not be used the former has nasty residual chemicals and the latter has ignition accelerants added.

I keep my compost bins in a relatively sunny position and water as required, I find that the heat within the bin speeds up the breakdown of vegetable waste and also increases the activity of the bacteria within the bins.

Also when watering said bins I use a dilution of EM's.

However its what works best for you, I'm in a zone 6 to 8 environment and the sun rarely gets too hot. As to securing the bins I have drilled 4 holes about 3 inches from the bottom and inserted bamboo canes, in my case it is to protect against winter gales.

the mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless open.
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Old 25-11-2011, 12:16 AM
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Hi All,

Conditions up here wild and windy, My inoculated Bella Italiano have just shown through. No sign of growth from the non-inoculated cloves as yet, but this is in keeping with growth pattern shown last year with my Vayo cloves.

It would seem that the VAM's are already attaching themselves to the now forming roots of the inoculated cloves. As I remember from last year it was about a week earlier that I saw the first signs of growth. However since this a different garlic, I will just note the event.

We had a delivery of cattle manure from the park farm, as fortune would have it I was the only person at the allotments at the time. I was able to get 8 barrow loads of the best that was going, this involved digging past all the hay to get to the real manure.

I have covered the pile with heavy duty black plastic sheeting, and have now started a litre container of EM's.
This should be ready in 5 or 6 days, once I see the airlock plopping for a couple of days it will be time to use it.

This I will water onto the manure pile using a watering can, then re-cover the manure and weigh down with bricks and leave until spring.

This I believe will give the EM's sufficient time to work their way through the pile removing most of any nasty bacteria, fungi, hormones and the like.

I just feel safer using EM's on manure, whereby they can work their magic from November until March.

5 months of EM action on this heap will I believe reduce much of any infestation within the heap. EM's are well capable of working at temperatures of -30 deg C so don't let winter temperatures put you off using this method to cleanse manure.

These are just my thoughts, others will disagree

the mind is like a parachute its totally useless unless its open
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Old 10-12-2011, 01:04 AM
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Hi All,

Found this update which would seem to prove that my assertions as to the cleanliness of the ancient Amazon tribes peoples so called rubbish pits.

Not only that, it proves the link between EM's and VAM's is valid as to their working in a symbiotic relationship.

I am now glad that I added some neat EM's to my manure heap, just looking forward to spring and experimenting with all my other ideas.

This is a bit like an early Christmas present for me, I may not be the sharpest tool in the box. However when I get totally immersed in a subject I usually find the answers I'm looking for.

Terra Preta sanitation: re-discovered from an ancient Amazonian civilisation | Sanitation Updates


The mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless its open
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:57 AM
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As per my knowledge and experience regarding gardening, regular wood ash is good for the garden as it contains potassium (K) which is one of the three main plant fertilizers. However, charcoal, even though it is wood, contains chemicals and additives that you probably wouldn't want in your garden. So it is essential to make sure there are no dangerous additives in the charcoal that don't burn off, in order to protect your garden soil by acidity.

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Old 13-12-2011, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Rosemarie11 View Post
As per my knowledge and experience regarding gardening, regular wood ash is good for the garden as it contains potassium (K) which is one of the three main plant fertilizers. However, charcoal, even though it is wood, contains chemicals and additives that you probably wouldn't want in your garden. So it is essential to make sure there are no dangerous additives in the charcoal that don't burn off, in order to protect your garden soil by acidity.
Hi Rosemarie,

A lot depends on the wood being charred, as in I only use forest wood to make my charcoal which is perfectly safe for purpose. This charcoal is also used for medicinal purposes, however if you were to use any treated wood as in railway sleepers then you might encounter the problems of which you speak.

Although you are correct in that wood ash contains nutrient it is fleeting in its longevity within the soil, whereas charcoal will be in the soil for hundreds if not thousands of years. This charcoal soaks up nutrient, however it is my belief that it requires inoculation before being introduced into the soil.

If you were to put un-inoculated charcoal into the soil it would soak up all existing nutrient and result in poor crop performance.

The native people of the Amazon delta who created the soil now known as Terra preta used a slow burning technique which excluded air whereby the bio-oil condensates were retained within the charcoal and not voided into the atmosphere. This is one of the secrets of this soil, these condensates are the equivalent of sugar to micro-organisms.
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Old 22-12-2011, 12:29 AM
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Hi All,

Meant to post this earlier.

Having said that I would be embarking on a Heritage seed stock revival, I have found it difficult to adhere to all of the necessary obligations at this time. I will therefore begin with potato, cauliflower and leek all of which are heritage crops.

This does not mean that I will be defaulting on the concept that we can get more from our heritage VAM type seed stock.

This in part is due to my brain not understanding that I am no longer a thirty something. It constantly challenges me to work as I did at that age, the mind is still keen! However the body finds it difficult to comply with that which the brain finds to be necessary to the task!

Now I know that a good few of the crops which I intend to cultivate in reality cannot be considered heritage!

However, I am also looking for good croppers and long keepers which have been seed saved for many years, and seemingly grow true to type.

This I hope will enable me to sever my links with the ever increasing price hype of garlic, potato and other mainstay crops.


Cara;- Organic, large tubers , large crop, good keeper in the necessary conditions circa 1973 or there abouts.

First Early

Ratte ;-Organic, an old French variety of Pink Fir Apple circa 1872, or earlier, with much less knobbly bits. It is considered, not surprisingly by the French, to be the origin of the English Pink Fir Apple potato. It has the same nutty flavour of PFA and is a good keeper. Gives reasonably good yields of firm waxy potatoes.

First Early

Congo:- Organic and ancient Variety with purple skin and blue flesh. This is a very late maturing variety and requires early planting, moderate cropper( not a lot for your money) suited to steaming and mashing.

I have tried to find its origin, many believe that very early explorers brought it back with them from South America and Peru in particular because it was found to both prevent and cure scurvy.

However its cultivars can be found in Spain, Australia, Canada, Scotland, and probably many more countries. The earliest documentation of this potato is circa 1615.

It has a massive root system and I am thinking that if infected with VAM's may well produce more tubers.

I will be experimenting with this potato through the VAM infection of its massive root system for a second time by injecting VAM's during mid season into said root system. This will be done to 10 of the 20 tubers which I have purchased. Now this I believe should show whether the infection of VAM's in fact has real worth within a larger root system to create a larger crop.

I will also be feeding this potato much more regularly with comfrey tea, the more feeding the greater the crop, within reason!

Now this is just a thought, but could the massive root system be because there was a dearth of nutrient in these native Amazon soils. This would seem logical to me, therefore if we feed this potato well it could produce significantly greater harvests.

As to the keeping qualities, there are conflicting reports as to how long this potato will keep after harvesting. But since it has been kept on long voyages and is a late main crop I believe that it should keep quite well.

It will also be a talking point when guests are fed, I can just imagine my son's face when confronted by blue potato mash. "I'll just tell him that's what Homer Simpson eats, as I remember the Simpson's always had blue mash on their plates"( this quote came from JBA seeds).

However since purchasing this seed potato I have read reports which state that if boiled to long it disintegrates. I am thinking that a pressure cooker may well be the best option.

First Early

Peas :-

Rondo:- an excellent cropper and will keep till next season when left to dry out properly.

Mario:- For lovers of mushy peas which I must admit I do love, will keep till next season when left to dry out properly.


Drying "Borletto bean Lamon" height approximately 9 to 11 feet, and will keep until next season. This is a meaty bean much loved by the good and great. Again don't know the heritage, however since it has been seed saved for many years I will go with it.


The best method that I have found for drying peas and beans for seed saving it to let then dry on the plant until pods are hard and brown. Then cut the pods off and using needle and thread string them high up in the greenhouse to remove any residual moisture. It works for me but is only a suggestion!

Oh, and always use nylon thread for obvious reasons.

However you could just as easily shell the crop onto brown paper sheets in the greenhouse and hand turn them every day for a few days if conditions are sunny.


Topper :- will keep from harvest until planting out time in spring. I don't know the history of this shallot so it will be interesting to see if it breeds true to type.


Dwarf Erfuet :- also known as snowball, compact heads, cultivating this for the wife, circa 1830. this will be a challenge as I have never seed saved from Brassica.

Now this being a Brassica will not be included in my TP results.

Thomas Etty Esq.


This will be dependent on the crop of Bella Italino, If the crop shows worth I may try a cross pollination with Vayo and seed save. Received my Vayo yesterday and will hopefully plant out tomorrow (5-11-11). This much later than I normally plant out garlic, but the deal was to good to refuse.

However you can I believe just as easily save the largest cloves from your July, August harvest and plant them out in mid September or early October dependant on your minimum temperature zone. For those living in Scotland I would suggest mid September.

If anyone knows different re clove planting please say so on this blog!!!

I have since found out that it is difficult to produce viable seed from garlic. This set me thinking that if the garlic flowers were mist sprayed with a dilution of EM's just prior to the opening of said flowers it may encourage seed viability.

This is just off the top of my head, but I'm going to try it out to see if it works. EM's seem to have an affinity with all plant life, so why not to the setting of viable seeds!!


Lyon :- Organic, was a very large leek circa 1883, it had a reputation of growing stocks 14 to 20 inches in length and 3 to 4 inches in diameter. However this was long before the advent of chemical fertilisers and the like.

Thomas Etty Esq.

This will be a challenge which I will really enjoy, it originated in Kelso on the Scottish borders. I will cross pollinate the two largest leeks and seed save from them.

I will be using comfrey tea, blood fish and bone, and chicken manure pellets and inoculated charcoal to cultivate this leek.

We can cultivate almost anything using these three ingredients, however to make this work we must saturate charcoal with them so that VAM's and EM's have an organic nutrient source to work with.

Sweet corn:-

Double Red:- 100 days until harvest, A red Sweet corn which is very sweet, and it is said, can be eaten straight off the cob in its milky phase.

It grows to a height of 6 to 8 feet and is very productive. Unfortunately very rare in the UK and can only be had from the USA, however it can be seed saved for future harvests as it is a reasonably old organic variety.

I gave my daughter's organic farming co-cooperative some seed to cultivate in one of their large polly tunnels, it was so popular that the plant meant for seed saving was also used!!!! This did not go down well with the community and the culprit was given a stern warning!!

If you wish to purchase this sweet corn here is the link ;- Corn, Double Red Sweet (Zea mays) seed, organic


Red Baron:- I like this onion, milder and sweeter, again am not sure of its heritage, but will do as with leeks and cross pollinate the largest 2 bulbs for seed saving. I have cultivated many different red onions, but this onion seems less likely to bolt in my opinion.

There is so much that we require to re-learn about true cultivation of the soil that I wonder how many will buy into this forgotten method of cultivation.

However as F1, 2 and 3 seed stock becomes increasingly more expensive we will ultimately require to go down this road. It is better done now than when its too late!!!

The french, and most of Europe don't buy F1, 2 or 3 seed stock!!, they rely on their heritage seed stock because it can be seed saved at no cost. We will need to follow their example, there was a time and will be again, when the common people of this country will require to cultivate their own food!!!!!

It definitely requires more of us, as in only using some of that which we have harvested for food and saving the best for seed stock.

It is after all an ancient technique of cultivation just like Terra preta. I am sure that the these ancient natives in the Amazon delta were well aware of this form of cultivation and used it to their advantage.

To feed a nation of approximately 20 million people 500 or 600 years ago would have required an expertise in cultivation which we can only wonder at.

These are only my thoughts, others will disagree.
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Old 24-12-2011, 01:55 AM
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144


Hi All,

I am now going back over my collection of data files again, this I have felt enables me to understand what my experiments have produced in the way of increased crop potential. It also allows me to assess what I have learned and how it relates to what has been written about TP.

At this time I am encouraged by the results so far achieved.

However the more you learn about this soil, the greater the need to recap as to what you thought, and how it worked for you. Firstly I am very happy with the crops harvested given that only handfuls of inoculated charcoal and sprinklings of VAM's were used.

There was no sign of disease as far as I can ascertain, however there was damage to a small number of potatoes from wireworm. As always it was the larger tubers which received the damage, Slug damage was minimal, this I think may have been due to my having simmered a couple batches of spent coffee grounds for about half an hour and watered the liquid onto the soil. I did not see any slugs surface and die as was said to have happened in the link which I put up, but I am happy with the results.

On the method used to re-create a TP type soil I see an obvious discrepancy as to how these native people created TP and how we are trying to achieve the same results.

This I feel is due to the climatic zone in which TP evolved, there was no loss of heat in the Amazon delta soil at any time and their only consideration was the long rainy season.

They did not require to inoculate the charcoal, this was achieved without their knowledge due to a hot and humid climate, which was and is still at this time stable.

We on the other hand have found it necessary to inoculate charcoal, however the results seem to point to the fact that charcoal is a bio-accumulator of nutrient.

I believe that the charcoal added to our soils must be inoculated with organic nutrient, this will prevent the leeching of nutrient from the parent soil by un-inoculated charcoal, and will therefore be available to our crops for increased growth.

The inoculation of a TP type charcoal is essential, we can postulate on methodology, but the truth it would seem is, that we require to inoculate charcoal in a zone 6 to 8 environment at first to achieve results. I say at first because a lot depends on the next steps we take and the methodology we use. There are several ways in which this project could proceed, and as yet I am keeping my options open.

My first thoughts regarding EM's were that their high acidity would prevent VAM's from achieving their allotted task,if EM's were added to the soil.

However this thought was found to be inaccurate!

EM's when brewed have a pH of approximately 3.1 very acidic, but once removed from their anaerobic environment quickly adapt to their new environment and the high acidity is quickly depleted once in an aerobic environment. This I believe removes any barrier to their forming symbiotic relationships with VAM's within the soil.

What we need to realise is that these life forms have been in existence for over 400 thousand years and have the ability to form mutual symbiotic relationships with other micro-organisms and yeasts in all climatic conditions.

EM's and all other micro-organisms are also supremely adept at transforming themselves to suit the environment in which they find themselves. Its almost like a chameleon effect where they are able to change form to survive.

This I believe is how Mother nature works at this level of existence!!

Now I had thought that my alliums would produce the best results as they are said to have a greater affinity with VAM's. This was not however the case, it was my potato crop which gave the best results.

To be honest I was perplexed by this result, however on thinking about this, it is my findings which really count in my experiment!

For the most part many of the findings in print did not use inoculated charcoal, and then there were those who used chemical fertilisers to inoculate the charcoal and wondered why their yields were lower than anticipated!

So there is a lot of information out there which is less than helpful as to how I am progressing. Chemical crop production kills the micro-organisms whose main task it is to regulate the soil and what grows in it.

This recap is still ongoing as I believe that it is necessary to my quest that I delve into every aspect of what has been achieved and how to understand what has been learned.

However I am fast getting to the stage where I may discontinue recapping on flawed science simply because it is owned by multi-national companies whose only consideration is greater profit margins for their products!!

I am feeling that I can no longer trust a lot of the information presented to me on the Internet. There are to be honest a very few sites which are green and use no chemicals. But big business is casting its jaundiced eye on Terra preta projects and does not like what it see's. This is understandable, were the TP code to be cracked, they would all be out of business!!

I have always been hopefully true to the concept that Mother nature provides us with all that we will ever need to survive on the earth.

However we modern humans seem to think that we know better!!!!!!


It was difficult to ascertain whether my last season crops gained any advantage in growth from the use of diluted EM's. The reason being that I was also infecting said crops with VAM's. However there was no sign of crop disease on any of my crops!

Having said that there was a small row of peas which I had not included in the experiment which was beginning to show powdery mildew.

This is the only crop disease which most commonly besets my cultivation efforts, I sprayed them once a week with a dilute solution of EM's and the mildew was arrested, they were mildew free. So from that aspect it would seem that EM's have a definite role to play in disease prevention.The peas by the way, only had ordinary compost added to the soil before they were sown.

These are just my thoughts, but hopefully they will strike a chord with you.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:04 AM
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144


Hi All,

Did anyone pick up on the obvious error in my last posting, I had stipulated a timeline of 400 thousand years for micro-organisms. This should have read 400 million years, apologies for said error.

Now I have thought about this for a while, and am of the belief that we could create our own nitrogen fertiliser by subjecting urine to the EM process.

I know that urine is, and always has been, used quite extensively in organic type cultivation, however it seems to rely on urea breaking down in the soil to release nitrogen.

It is mainly used in compost heaps or bins where there are an abundance of micro-organisms.

However most of the nitrogen is lost to the atmosphere!!

I am thinking that if we subject the urine to the massive amounts of EM's created by the brewing process, this will increase the breakdown of Urea, Creatnine and Uric acid.

Initially I will experiment with a 10% by volume of urine to the mixture, I'm not sure if this will create an organic nitrogen type fertiliser. However it does seem likely that such a result would be possible.

Will the EM's view the urine as a food source, I think that they will, as long as molasses is the main ingredient. There is a carbon ratio of 8:1 as I understand it for the breakdown of urea this is why I will use a 10% by volume of urine with molasses to attempt to achieve a nitrogen rich fertiliser.

Now given that this will be carried out in an anaerobic environment I believe that the loss of nitrogen will be restricted. I am also thinking that, if sufficient charcoal granules be added will ensure that carbon is available for said breakdown of urine, then we can I think achieve good results.

I also think that the urine used should not be fresh, it should be left in a sealed container outside for a week or 2.

I think that once the constituents have been allowed to settle at the bottom of the container, the water content should be drained off as far as possible.This liquid can be added to the compost bin or the soil, the remaining bottom residue should be decanted into another container. This cycle of events should be continued until sufficient of the real worth of the urine is 10% by volume of the EM container.

The average pH of urine is about 6 but can range from 4.8 to 7,5

Urine contains the following:-

95% water.



Uric acid.

The individual elements of which a-









I believe that Em's can and will breakdown the urea, creatnine and uric acid content into a useable nitrogen source, as always I may be totally wrong! However its all about experimenting with that which is vital to our needs at no cost!

As usual nothing ventured nothing gained!

I may also add it to my inoculation formula for charcoal if the concept is proved to be correct. The fact that EM's will be added to the inoculation liquid is to my mind a bonus.

These EM's will also begin to breakdown the blood, fish and bone, comfrey liquid and molasses into a form from which crop roots can easily assimilate the available nutrients. These nutrients will be more easily absorbed by the charcoal.

Now given that VAM's and EM's will be present in the soil, this should enhance the uptake of nutrition to all VAM and non-VAM type crops. This I believe will be evident in the growth of said crops which have received this inoculated charcoal in the case of VAM type crops.

Although I am actively seeking ways to enhance the TP effect within my soils I can also see the benefits for non-Mycorrhizal crops. The breakdown of nutrients by EM's will I believe enhance the uptake of nutrient of non-Mycorrhizal crops. This is what I believe will return the soil to a living entity where Mother nature's rules are obeyed and chemical cultivation discontinued!!!

If my thoughts are proved to be correct then there are at least another 4 or 5 other ways in which this process could be adapted and utilised within the TP framework.

It could change in some ways how we presently approach cultivation of the soil, I have jotted down some of the thoughts which I have had on the urine aspect.

These I will research to gain a better understanding of what I am actually thinking, and how it could benefit our crop potential.

TP as was created by these ancient Amazon delta native people in their pits would have been replete with EM's or similar micro-organisms and these pits were also used both as urinal and defecation pits.

Therefore large amounts of urine would have been present in said pits to create a nitrogen source not present in the parent soil.

However in that climate some of the water content would have evaporated. The charcoal would absorb the rest leaving only the urea, creatnine and uric acid content to be subjected to the charcoal and micro-organisms within said pits. This is I believe is one of the ways in which the TP system gained nutrient in that environment.

It is as I previously postulated, that charcoal can be likened to a hard dry sponge absorbing nutrient from all and every source.

Charcoal is a bio-accumulator, I have thought of many different ways to describe it whereby the essence of its nature is there for all to see.

This is how I think of charcoal:-

"Think of charcoal as an everlasting organic re-chargeable battery which absorbs and then releases nutrient as and when required", this is much closer to the truth of my understanding of how it works and its importance to TP soil.

Obviously in the Amazon delta this battery would have re-charged more quickly due the high temperature and humidity. Add to that the increased growth of the crops cultivated within that temperature zone.

However I can see no reason why the same should not happen in a zone 6 to 8 environment. It is in the nature of charcoal to perform this function given its absorbency and relationship with both VAM's and EM's in an organic environment.

The initial financial outlay may put some people off, as in the purchase of sufficient charcoal to approximate 30% by volume of the soil. However it is a one time buy, thereafter it should cost little to nothing to maintain this organic oasis of the past.

Having said that it can be built up year by year whereby cost is kept at an acceptable level to all who wish to follow this path to greater organic crop production. I see the anomalies as to the soil which you have, those with sandy soil should aim for a 3 foot depth of charcoal within the soil. this will preserve moisture. If you go back to a previous entry you will find soil types and how to treat them.

You can also purchase 10 kg of lumpwood charcoal for 8,99 including vat postage and packing from this source:- Lumpwood Charcoal for BBQ's 10kg | Supagrill Lumpwood BBQ Charcoal | Supagrill Barbecue Charcoal | Creative Garden Ideas

It maybe that we don't achieve that which was achieved in the Amazon delta, but we will grow a soil worthy of the name providing us with an abundance of food for our needs!!!

I had thought that it would take time for the TP effect to adapt to our environment, not it would seem so!.

Given the 30 to 45 % increase in yield already experienced in my first season of cultivation using this methodology I feel sure that this is just the beginning of the increased crop yields.

What we must remember is that these Amazon natives had fields which were 3 to 6 feet deep in charcoal. Whereas I, on the other hand, have only been using handfuls of inoculated charcoal !!!!!!!

The bottom line is the more inoculated charcoal we add to the soil the greater will be the increase in crops harvested. And the number of VAM spores ready and willing to infect our VAM type crops!!

Now I have read reports stating that disturbance of the soil reduces the number of VAM's and EM's within the soil. I find this difficult to believe since these natives cultivated many root crops which required to be dug into the soil and also dug up from the soil.

Since the dawn of soil cultivation humans have tilled the soil in one way or another.They reaped harvests in such sufficiency as to be able to sell or barter their excess crops for other goods. Therefore tilling of the soil would not seem to be a problem!

As far as I am aware the only things proven to destroy these micro-organisms are chemical fertilisers, weed killers and insecticides!!! These micro-organisms are extremely robust except when subjected to modern chemical crop cultivation.

However having said that we now have EM's which have been chosen for their ability to remove such toxins from our soils, rivers seas, and oceans, and as I have said before, I believe will be our saving grace in the fight against chemical cultivation of the soil and man made toxins in general.!! It is up to us to redress the balance of Mother nature if not for our own sake then for the sake of our children.!!!!!

These are just my thoughts, others will disagree.

The mind is like a parachute it is totally useless unless open.

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Old 13-01-2012, 12:26 AM
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144


Hi All,

This site if read in simplistic fashion may make you more aware as to how VAM's function. The science is for those who seem fixated by chemistry, however there are gems of information within this text.

The mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless it is open

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