Biochar is basically a charcoal that is used as a soil amendment. It has been used for centuries and is now regarded as one of the ‘superfoods’ for gardens. So how does work and is it worth it ?
It is a material obtained from organic material that is heated without oxygen. The heating process changes the composition of the material and gives us the ‘biochar’. All of this is said to have started in the Amazon basin.
What does Biochar do ?
Again basically it improves water retention as well as nutrient retention. The exact effect will depend on the soils it is used in.
The retention of moisture enhances the presence of beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
So increased nutrients, moisture and improved micro-organisms mean less fertiliser should be required.
It is a product that is said to work best when used in conjunction with compost, vermicaste and other organic fertiliser. This is called ‘charging’. Charging’ is a way of speeding up the processes that it naturally enhances. Without ‘Charging’ it will first extract nutrients from the soil before beginning to work.
How do you ‘charge’ Biochar ?
Mix biochar and compost 50/50 and let it sit for 2 – 3 weeks.
How do you use it ?
- Mix the ‘charged’ Biochar at 1 part to 5 with compost.
- You can apply it by top dressing the soil with a thin layer and then raking it in. It can also be used in potting mixes or worked directly into the soil.
Can you make your own ?
Yes, and many instructional videos are available on You Tube.
Is all Biochar the same ?
No, it differs according to the material used as well as the temperature used. So you will need to read the instructions on the bag.
Do we use biochar ?
Yes, we charge it and use it in potting mixes for indoor plants. We also use it in the vegetable garden.