This is the first full year after I have started using inoculated biochar. I have decided to tabulate the results so others could visualize them as well. I started with pie cherries, American persimmons, and lilacs, because they seemed to be three types of plants that liked more alkaline soil, and like most in Portland, I have naturally acidic soil. The ash remnant in biochar makes it more alkaline.
The ones that had been biocharred:
1 Garretson: By far more production than ever before. I had to tie the tree to another one so it wouldn’t fall over. Interestingly, the fruit was largely unseeded for the first time. Could be due to rain during the pollination time, but I don’t know.
2. Szukis: About 10 times more fruit than ever before. This is the first time that it was ever good tasting.
3. Young seedling: Grew a lot more, but still hasn’t fruited.
4. Early Golden: Fruited, about the same as the previous years.
The ones that weren’t biocharred:
1.NC-10: Fruited for the first time. Supposedly the earliest variety. Fruited very late or never ripened. Fruit quality very poor.
2. H-118: Started to fruit, but couldn’t keep the fruit.
3. Seedlings: About the same
1.Montmorency1: Very healthy and productive. About twice the production of the previous year.
2. Montmorency2: The same. About twice as productive as the previous year.
1.Montmorency3: About the same as previous year.
2. North Star: About the same as previous year.
3. Mixed seedling/Montmorency: About the same as previous year.
Lilac:Only one that was biocharred:
1. About twice the size of last year’s lilac bush.
Goal-Fall of 2019: I am going to keep putting biochar in the soil around the pie cherries and persimmons until I’ve done them all. Then I’ll probably switch to the raised beds as vegetables tend to prefer more neutral/alkaline soil than fruit trees do.
I worked on my barrel and lid today to be able to make biochar to try. Hoping to amend this Florida sand (but not sugar sand here, we have some clay mixed in) so it holds water a bit better and organic matter. Figured inoculated biochar might be worth a try. So far just piling on mulch from grass on the property. I am not ready to risk bringing in hay after a bad experience with big box compost in the past.
Bought this land end of July. Got some work ahead. Have a few veggies and some comfrey out there so far. Tarping the sod didn't work as fast as I'd hoped. I suspect the 10 week drought might have been a factor.
I inoculate with a "soup" mix of compost, worm compost, rotten fruit, urine, and sometimes some mycelium. I pour the soup into the batch of biochar and then out say, twice a week for a month or two. I want the biochar to be in an oxygenated condition, so as to favor aerobic microbes, which work better with human food crops. If it is drowning in fluid for the inoculation period, it will be in an anaerobic condition, and therefore favoring disease carrying microbes, a la Elaine Ingham.
I think biochar could work well for you. I also think you're on track adding organic matter. Adding organic matter and biochar could be great.
One of my initial hypotheses is that biochar tends to work better in higher rain areas, partially because a lot of rain tends to wash out some nutrients/minerals. In addition, it is easier to grow trees quickly in higher rain areas, so excess organic material to turn into biochar should be easier to come by. Higher rain areas tend toward more acidic soils, and the remnant of ash would tend to make the soil more alkaline.
Great question. I can tell you what I do, and you may critique it respectfully, if you would like.
I feel that the greatest area of growth is the feeder roots out at the drip line. That is the place of greatest growth,but also the most rapid death of the roots. They are constantly growing and dying at that place, depending on more rain, more sun, drying out, etc. They are the most active. From reading some of Redhawk's posts, I determined that I should try to get it to somewhere near 8 inches of depth. I look at my spade and figured that it was about 8 inches deep. I dig in biochar that has already been inoculated for about a month in a ring around the tree at the drip line to about that depth. I dig gently straight down at the drip line and try to wiggle the spade back and forth rather than dig it out to gently move the earth and create a mini trench for the biochar. Then I fill it in around the tree.