Composting – Part 4: Supercharging Your Compost with Biochar

Activating Your Biochar

This is part four of my series on composting. As all aspects covered so far are vital, so too is today’s topic. You’ve probably never heard of the material called biochar but it’s basically charcoal or burned wood. Alone, it its worthless at least and at most it can kill your plants. To be truly effective in plumping up your crop production, the biochar must be activated with the introduction of beneficial microbes and nutrients. It should be added to your compost in a 1:1 ratio. While there are many ways to activate biochar, the fastest way is to mix it with your fully composted materials, add micronized rock dust aka Azomite and some flour for the microbes to eat. When mixed together and kept in a warm dry place for at least 2 weeks, the combination of materials will activate the biochar. The longer the mix is left to ferment, the better the end product will be. I suggest starting this process as early as possible.

 

The Mix

The following combination is recommended: 4 parts biochar to 1 part Azomite to 1 part compost to 1/2 flour. Using this 4:1:1:0.5 combinations will supercharge your garden. Note: if used in container gardens, the recommended combination is 1:1 biochar mix to soil. Some people have been known to successfully use a higher ratio of biochar to soil mix but I believe it is because they let their mix ferment a lot longer than 2 weeks. Still, biochar is not inexpensive so once activated it should be used mainly in areas showing significant signs of nutrient depletion or in areas that held heavy feeders such as potatoes or cabbage in the previous season or will hold heavy feeders in the upcoming planting season. It can be sparingly used on less nutrient deficient areas. In such spaces in the garden, well-made plain compost can be used. You can also directly add nutrients either in pellet or powder form to the soil. There is also the option of replenishing the soil with compost tea, which will be discussed in the next and last post that completes this series on composting.

 

Remember, if you try this out, please let me know the results you get. You can share your results on this blog or on my Facebook page. You are also welcome to share your own gardening tips and advice. Don’t forget to like, thumbs up and share.

 

Happy Gardening!

 

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