Biochar is a high carbon content, charcoal-like material, made by heating plant matter to temperatures above 400 degrees C in a low- to no-oxygen environment. Biochar is valuable as a soil restructuring agent that enhances plant growth and health by improving the following soil characteristics: moisture retention, nutrient retention, provision of a beneficial microbe habitat, and soil pliability. Nutrients that are adsorbed onto the surface of biochar’s porous structure become more readily available to plants through an enhanced ionic exchange capacity. The introduction of biochar into soils provides a home for beneficial microbes to thrive. These beneficial microbes stimulate mycorrhizal fungi, which in turn help plants thrive through improved plant root health. Furthermore, the amendment of biochar into soils is a means by which carbon is removed from the atmosphere. This also increases soil organic carbon
- 1 box of AirTerra’s™ SoilMatrix™ Biochar (7 litres)
- 1 litre of high quality compost or worm castings
- ½ litre of flour of any kind – carbohydrates for microbes to munch on
- 1 ½ litre of water (rain water is best, or degassed tap water by letting it sit for a day)
- 60 litres of compost (2 x 30 litre bags)
In a large container, blend 1 box of AirTerra SoilMatrix Biochar (7 litres) with about 1 litre of water. Add 1 litre of worm castings or 1 litre of compost along with the flour and blend evenly again. Add about another ½ litre of water or more to ensure all of the ingredients are damp but not drenched. Blend well enough to ensure no dry ingredients remain.
Let this mixture age for at least 2 days to allow the microbes to populate the biochar fully. After a couple of days, the inoculated biochar is ready to be blended into about 60 litres of compost.
This amount of material can now be top dressed onto garden beds or flower beds to a depth of about 1 inch over an area of 35 to 40 square feet. Work your inoculated biochar-fortified compost into the soil with a garden trowel to a depth of a few inches to allow plant roots of have access to it. If you don’t get it all worked in, earthworms will happily complete the work for you.
To really ‘super-charge’ your garden, blend only 30 litres of compost with the inoculated biochar or double the above recipe and blend with 60 litres of compost. Best of all, you will need to do this only once for each treated area of soil. Biochar remains in your soil for a lifetime – it does not decompose like compost. All you will need to do is replenish your soil with compost from time to time, but less often because biochar holds onto nutrients longer than straight compost. When the rains come, your biochar will hold nutrients for your plant roots instead of letting them be leached through the soil.