The Dirt Forge

by William Alexzander Mowry
(Mt.Vernon, IL)

I have a theory on how to grow a better puffball. Have you heard that when a wild fire begins, many plants grow in the burnt patch because of the nutrients caused from the fire. Perhaps if you could try to burn a controlled path of fire and cultivate puffballs, or really any other plant, on your own garden you could have better luck at growing plants.

I had much trouble growing corn in my mom's home garden. We could not grow anything in our garden that was too complex. So I had the idea of either burning off a patch where you want to grow your crop, or you could experiment with something I've named the "dirt forge". The dirt forge is a forge that burns the soil with fire, so the soil has all the nutrients it'll need to survive the crop season. I have thought of many different ways to build this forge. Please email me sometime if you could or have any luck with the puffballs or any other crop you find yourself growing.

Comments for The Dirt Forge

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Wood ash
by: Anonymous

Just add wood ash from your fireplace or camp fire.It does the same thing also good making the soil more alkaline which is a bonus

alex's response
by: william alexander mowry

well amy.he dirt forge will take i think the only problem with the dirt forge is that it could cause polution when you burn a controled fire or try to build the dirt forge. unfortunatly the forge is herd to make because the fire gives the ashes the nutrition from the plants and thats hard to do without causing polution. i will not be able to build one but let me know if you know a gardener who has trouble with crops. please only let me know if they have luck with the dirt forge with their crops. so if you know someone whos going to experiment please advice them to do so with the dirt forge.
by william aleander mowry

Dirt Forge!
by: Amy

Hi William,

Sorry it took me so long to respond to this. I like the way you think. Yes, fire is known to stimulate certain types of fungal and plant growth. Have you ever heard of "burn site morels"? These are morel mushrooms that spring up after forest fires. Many people visit fire sites in the spring hoping to find some (often with great success). If you're growing morels, one trick you can try is to put some burned wood chips or create a small (controlled!) fire near your site.

But as for puffballs....hmmm.....I've never heard of a "burn site puffball" or anyone using this method to cultivate them. Unfortunately puffballs are hard to grow as they're suspected to by mycorrhizal, yet of course that doesn't mean you couldn't try. If you can find a puffball, make a spore slurry out of it and try putting some burned soil and grass around that area. No guarantees but a worthy experiment.

The Dirt Forge is certainly worth playing around with! I'm not sure how well something like that would really work, or which plant species may benefit, but I definitely think it's a good experiment. Let me know if you make one!


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