Biochar is the name given to a special type of high temperature charcoal that is mixed into compost to provide compelling, long term benefits to soil health. Biochar is extremely porous making it excellent at retaining water and nutrients promoting plant health and microbial activity.
Biochar is like a battery, and to get the best out of it it should be mixed with nutrients and microbes - a process known as charging (or inoculating / activating).
When you buy Earthly Organic Biochar, we supply you with a small pouch of inoculant powder. This is a blend of beneficial bacteria and fungi as well as a little bit of seaweed and humic acid. Following the instructions, add the powder to water and mix. Then soak your biochar in this liquid for a few minutes before you apply your biochar to the soil.
Raw biochar is not activated and is ‘empty’ of nutrients and microbes, so you need to take a different approach to application.
Add biochar to your flower beds
Activated biochar is full of nutrients and microbes and can be used straight away in your garden. If you’re using activated biochar, hold off feeding your plants for a week after you have added the activated biochar, especially if the plants are seedlings - you don’t want to ‘burn’ their roots with too much nutrients!
You don’t need a lot! In fact, too much and you will negatively impact your plant’s health. Mix biochar into your soil / potting mix so it makes up 10% of the soil volume. For example, if you have a 10L plant pot, only use 1L of biochar and 9L of potting mix.
Mix the biochar in thoroughly with the rest of your potting mix/soil. Use your fingertips to work out any big clumps and then add the mixed soil and biochar into your pot, flower bed or vegetable patch.
If you’re using raw biochar, add it into your flower beds or vegetable patch a month before adding your plants. This gives time for the microbes to start inhabiting the biochar and the nutrients in the soil to be absorbed.
Add biochar to your compost piles
When you add biochar into the composting process from the start it dramatically increases the quality of the finished compost product. This is known as co-composting. Your compost will reach higher temperatures in a shorter space of time as the microbes find refuge inside the pores of the biochar causing them to multiply. More microbes mean faster composting! It also absorbs methane emissions making your compost produce less greenhouse gas.
For best results add biochar into your compost every time you empty your food waste in there, this way it will mix with your compost as it breaks down.
Read our blog to find out more about how compost plays its role in helping combat climate change.