Now, some would call that charcoal a sign of incomplete combustion, but we know better, don’t we?

In the Amazon, that charcoal is called terra preta, and here, we call it biochar. (See 1491 for a terrific description of how the Amazon basin became an edible forest, partly through the use of biochar as a soil amendment.)

Really, the ash and the charcoal are on that bed together because that’s where I dumped the scuttle from the wood stove. And if I’d been more systematic, I would have used a screen to separate the biochar from the ash. But that sounds like work, and since my soil is very clay-y (the property is on a river bluff) I don’t think the ash will do any harm, and will probably do some good, if only with texture. So I’m not going to worry about screening for now. (Though I may try the coffee can technique… If it gets cold enough again — after all, it is March in Maine — to light the fire.)

So, it’s an experiment!