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Biochar - How to make it and best way to apply it?

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Hey guys - Long time.

 

In a couple weeks I will be transplanting into 30L pots.

 

I am thinking to add 5-10% BioChar to my soil mix, which is currently 20% wormcast, 20% perlite, and 50-55% compost mix of mostly peat and some other stuff.

 

Instead of buying branded Biochar, can I make this by just crushing any old Charcoal?

 

Also how should I apply this? At first I was thinking to mix it completely with the soil, but I think I have seen some pictures in the past where all of it was put directly where the transplant was going to be(in most cases in a little area in the center of the pot)

 

If you have any other recommendations, I would like to hear them.

 

Thanks!

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Making biochar is a very specific process. Not like charcoal you can buy. Fortunately Biochar is fairly cheap. It's important to make sure it's inoculated or else be prepared to soak it in compost tea or something with microbes (I've seen EM1).

 

I mix it through out the soil but some people toss it in the hole they are transplanting into. Basically biochar is useful in organic soils because it fosters microbes very well. It can be used to improve problem soils that have trouble maintaining soil life which once established conditions the soil to be more complex and balanced.

 

I can't see it hurting already functioning and happy soil. But only serves as an insurance policy to maintain health. Like if your soil gets too dry or wet or whatever... it can knock your microbe population down. Having biochar keeps those numbers up. Also I can't remember the details but there's some benefit to the soil from the carbon. I don't know if this would apply to containers as the workshop I attended had to do with bringing barren land back to production.

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Hi douglas

 

From what I read last night, BioChar is just another name for Charcoal when used as a soil amendment - often crushed down into smaller form and then activated like you said.

 

What ratio do you mix it with your soil?

 

Good to know it can work as an insurance policy.

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Hey I mixed maybe 5-10% into a soil I re-use. My intention was to run it and add more if I thought it was needed. I did not add anymore.

 

I would be careful with your assessment that charcoal and biochar are the same.

Adding plain old charcoal to your soil could be a disaster.

 

I understand the basic idea of biochar originates with the practices of burying wood fires so they burn in a very low oxygen environment, which is charcoal for all intents and purposes. But manufactured bio char is made in large gassifers under specific conditions. Charcoal can come from weird sources and it's not an exact science so quality control is possibly all over the place.

 

Adding 5% of random charcoal might not hurt much but it might not help either.

 

Whatever you choose keep us updated.

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Hey I mixed maybe 5-10% into a soil I re-use. My intention was to run it and add more if I thought it was needed. I did not add anymore.

 

I would be careful with your assessment that charcoal and biochar are the same.

Adding plain old charcoal to your soil could be a disaster.

 

I understand the basic idea of biochar originates with the practices of burying wood fires so they burn in a very low oxygen environment, which is charcoal for all intents and purposes. But manufactured bio char is made in large gassifers under specific conditions. Charcoal can come from weird sources and it's not an exact science so quality control is possibly all over the place.

 

Adding 5% of random charcoal might not hurt much but it might not help either.

 

Whatever you choose keep us updated.

 

Yeh, its true what your saying there, however I looked to find pure charcoal, which when grounded down and then activated should be biochar(technically).

 

However, there are some charcoals - such as the popular Charcoal Briquettes - These contain other chemicals to help make the burn more consistent, and in some cases a easy light fluid.

 

When charcoal is not formed correctly from the initial burn(under incorrect conditions like you said), it comes with either unburnt wood, or an ashy finish) - so its quite detectable if its good stock or not.

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