The Compost Midden (TCM)

These are the 40mm PVC pipes for the centre of The Compost Midden (TCM). Drilled in N,E,S,W horizontally along the pipe at 100mm vertically apart. The pipes are 1m long. The bottoms are buried 100mm deep into the soil. Used for watering the middens but as I worked out a pain in the arse for mixing the middens - maybe better to go without the pipes.

The Compost Midden is similar to that used by the original Amazonian Indians to make Terra Preta de Indio. To build one, add:

  • biochar (medium milled) from a Kon-Tiki biochar kiln eg. Kon-Tiki 'Essential' (KTE) or other source eg.TLUD stove, Bunnings etc.
    • Soak/inoculate for 24 hours with:
      • liquid sea kelp (sea minerals)
      • liquid NPK, possibly extracted from vermileachate (nutrients)
      • granular bentonite clay/kaolin clay (clay minerals)
      • rock dust (rock minerals)
      • Microbes eg. diluted 'POPUL8' (Neutrog), 'Plant and soil food' (Microtek Organics), Respond Grow (Dugald Hamilton), compost tea (Dr Elaine'sTM 'Soil Food Web School') or even some of Dr Cho's natural farming microbe recipes
      • Mycorrhizal fungal spores
      This recipe is similar to Biochar Mineral Complex (BMC) without the additional torrefication/heating which could be done in a 20L barrel in the KTE without the microbes and spores which could be added afterwards.
  • Ready to build the midden. Add 50/50 to:
    • manure (eg. cow, chicken, pig, horse, goat, etc.)
    • black soldier flies (BSF) that eat the manure and produce larvae
    • red earthworms that feed on the BSF larvae residue (from your local supplier)
    • Indigenous micro-organisms (IMO) from soil samples around the property including from the site that you want to put the Permafert to grow plants, etc.

Once again, what you add to TCM depends on which plants you want to grow (and what they need to grow) and the 'terroir'.

  • Kitchen scraps should go in the Terra preta vermicompost (TPV) (see below)
  • excess kitchen scraps that can't be added to the TPV could be added to the midden 
  • contents of the ol' piss bucket (possibly after lacto-fermentation) poured down the water pipes. 
  • wastewater down the water pipes

You need to ensure moisture gets to the bacteria, fungus, manure, earthworms and the general 'soil food web' that you are trying to kickstart.

Turn over the middens every few days. If the middens get too large to enable easy turning, make another one and so on...


Add to soil removed from circular Zai pits or swales (50/50) then mix together = Permafert! Then add back into the pits and swales eg.A 'Tree Guild', posted on the 'Latest Regenerative Agroforestry System (RAS) notes' page


Terra preta vermicompost (TPV)

Watch this space! Terra preta vermicompost

Add to the 50 litre opaque plastic containers:

  • milled biochar/milled 'activated biochar'
  • coir
  • red earthworms
  • Mycorrhizal fungus
  • kitchen scraps (no animal waste, citrus, onion/garlic waste)

Compost tea

The key with the compost tea is minimising the amount of compost you need to feed the plants. I'm going to try making brews from inoculums from both TCM and TPV. Compost tea seems to be a very efficient way of spreading desirable micro-organisms to the plant production areas. If the soil is kept moist, and the rest of the soil food web is established by nature, you should only need to use the Compost slurry once in a given location (also remembering that the majority of the biochar matrix will last for 100s to 1000s of years, depending on the characteristics of the biochar produced eg. high temperature and high silica content found in grasses like bamboo). I've found a cheap dual output aquarium aerator pump which could aerate 2*20 litre buckets at the same time. A couple of metres of aerator pump tubing also needs to be purchased and attached to the pump and tea bag holder. The 20l buckets can be found in some restaurants or purchased on eBay. A laundry bag with a zipper could be used for the 'tea bag' and the structure holding the tea bag can be made from PVC pipe and joiners then placed in a 20 litre bucket. Just need to drill holes in the base of the holder and connect the top of the holder to an aerator ouput via the tubing. This compost tea machine needs to be tested before using the tea for widespread application. Testing involves assessing samples under a microscope or samples could be sent to the Soil Food Web Institute. 

The compost slurry

To make a compost slurry, add to an IBC inoculation bath (bottom 2/3 of IBC with tap):

For a Kon-Tiki 1.2m/1.65m

  • milled 'activated biochar'
  • compost tea (aerobic bacteria and soil fauna grown from the TPV)

For the Flat-Tiki 'Carbon/'The Permastove V3'

  • milled biochar
  • compost tea (aerobic bacteria and soil fauna grown from the TPV)
  • molasses (bacteria food)
  • sea minerals (eg. SEA-90)
  • liquid kelp (eg.Seasol, 'Advanced liquid kelp' - for minerals)
  • Blood N Bone (NPKS)
  • rock dust (from the local quarry - minerals), THEN

Wait/inoculate for 12 hours THEN

drain off the slurry and add to TPM contents into the top third of an IBC (inverted and placed on the ground), mix ingredients together then add the mix to the place where you are growing your plants eg.

  • The Permafert Swale (TPS)
  • Permachar Kitchen Gardens (PKG)
  • Permachar Wicking Pots (PWP)
  • Regenerative Agroforestry System (RAS), vineyards, orchards etc.

Recommended reading:

*Taylor, Dr. Paul (ed.), 'The biochar revolution: Transforming agriculture and environment', 2010, Global Publishing Group, Australia

*Woods, William I. (ed.) et al, 'Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek's Vision', 2009, Springer, USA

* Lowenfels, Jeff and Lewis, Wayne, 'Teaming with microbes: A gardener's guide to the soil food web', 2006, Timber Press, USA

*Lowenfels, Jeff, 'Teaming with nutrients: The organic gardener's guide to optimizing plant nutrition', 2016, Timber Press, USA

*Author unknown, 'Great garden formulas: The ultimate book of mix-it-yourself concoctions for your garden', 2006, publisher and place unknown

*Reddy, Rohini, 'Cho's global natural farming', 2011, SARRA, South Korea

Many more to mention plus google searches for 'soil' and 'compost' will reveal lots of links...