Helping Gardeners Grow Podcast

Help for gardeners who want to grow like a pro.

Next level garden tips so you can grow better edibles and gardens.

These tips will help you grow the "CLEANEST", strongest and most productive vegetable patch ever.


Episode 13 – Build Better Soils with Biochar

Guest: Rob Lavoie

Big Idea:

Biochar Builds Better Soils and Improves Food Security

I boosted the quality of my garden soil with Soil Matrix biochar. Why is my soil better now than before? My garden grows on sandy soil so there is no way for minerals to be held in place. Before biochar, plants started looking stressed and deficient in less than a growing season and pests were a problem as the season progressed.

According to Rob, who gardens in Calgary Alberta, Soil Matrix Biochar makes a huge difference on all kinds of soils. Before finding this precise product I was trialling potentially dangerous and less efficient lump charcoal to boost soil carbon.

Soil Matrix Biochar is a garden input many gardeners are not familiar with. Like peat, it helps hold water in the soil. Like slow release organic fertilizer, it slowly adds adsorbed bio-available nutrients to soil water. Like a good compost or worm castings it provides a home for valuable microorganisms in healthy regenerative soils. Unlike compost, biochar is available forever once added to soil, and Soil Matrix biochar is made to exacting Airterra specifications so it is always uniform.

Rob started investigating Biochar in 2008 when someone at his church gave him a slip of paper with two words “Terra Pretta”. Since then he has become a resource to African farmers and Canadian gardeners alike. Rob encourages us all to co-compost his pristine biochar with our compost, starting with the buckets under our kitchen sinks.

To learn more about the stoves used to provide heat to cook food, make biochar and improve farm soils in Africa see To see a video of the stoves in action see:

For more information about the mobile growing area Rob is using the test his biochar and compost soil mixes see

Web site:


Donna is Helping Gardener’s Grow through her interviews with various growers and gardeners. Want to build soil, grow food in extraordinary ways or raise the world’s most expensive spice? Listen in, rate and subscribe.

In every podcast we talk about food or how to grow better food. To ask a question about the current or past episodes send a voice memo from your phone to [email protected]. In the voice memo tell us your name and where you garden first and then ask your question.

Music in every episode is by Donna’s son, Brennan Anderson, a musician in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada. Season 2 has all new music so thank-you Brennan!


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