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Adding flour to your biochar

 
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I have been reading some sites that suggest adding flour to your biochar. I don't mean "rock flour".  I mean barley, oat, wheat or other grain flour.  Here are a couple of sites that suggest it:

At https://joybileefarm.com/make-biochar/ , they write:
Mark Highland, in Practical Organic Gardening, suggests thinking of biochar as an empty battery that needs to be charged before it can function.  Biochar is often mixed with flour or another sources of carbon to give microbes a food source.  It can then be further mixed with worm castings or finished compost to add the organic matter needed to “charge” the Biochar.  Use a ratio of 50/50 biochar to compost or worm castings to create a blend that’s ready to add directly into the garden.  Allow 2 weeks for the biochar and organic matter to sit before using directly in the garden or in potting soil.

In https://4xbiochar.com/how-to-use-biochar/ they write:
For gardens and potted plants, you will need to “charge” your Biochar. To do this, simply add your favorite nutrients, microbes, mycelium, and plant foods to 4X Biochar. Place in an airtight container with enough water to cover and let it sit for at least a couple days, up to a week, adding water to cover as it is absorbed by the Biochar. Mix nutrients, microbes, and mycelium according to instructions for watering your plants, then add water to the Biochar mix. Nutrients added can be as simple as worm castings or compost to as complex as imported bat guano, barley flour, and molasses. Gathering microbes and mycelium can be as easy as washing off some root crops to as complex as specialty designed order for a specialty crop. At 4X Biochar, we recommend using as little as one gallon per 100 square feet to as much as one gallon per one square yard per year, depending on our budget and experience with the product to build soil carbons.

It is sometimes suggested that it will increase the amount of fungal growth in the biochar.  Therefore, it should be especially valuable when putting biochar near woody plants like trees and bushes.   I have used it similarly in my compost tea, so it makes sense to me.   I think I am going to try to experiment with this.  Are any of you using this?

Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
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hau kola, the use of flour would probably closely mimic the environment of the original makers of terra preta, that is, the originators simply burned their trash heaps when they got to large, then when the fires went out they spread the burnt remains.
I would think that in those garbage heaps there would be some food remains which would fuel bacteria both before the fire and once the heap cooled off.
I'm interested in your experiment, I can see it working well.

Redhawk
 
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It's an interesting point, but I wonder what adding flour to pre-inoculated biochar (activated charcoal?) would change in the context of it going right into a compost heap. I mean, there's plenty of food in the compost, and plenty of the right sorts of bacteria. In adding the activated charcoal to it, we're just adding lots and lots of housing.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the idea, just that in some contexts it may be superfluous.

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Chris, from the way I read John's post the idea is to make a slurry with flour and water then saturate the pre-inoculate (char) with this slurry. That would allow particles of the flour to lodge deep in the crannies of the fresh char.
That idea, to me, is like priming a pump, putting a food source deep into the char crannies, the idea I get from that description is that by pre-charging with some food particles will act as an attractant, thus encouraging bacteria population deep in the char from the beginning.
Just my take on this idea.

Redhawk
 
Chris Kott
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Oh. That makes sense. I hadn't considered it that way.

-CK
 
John Suavecito
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Yes, that's the idea.
The minute particles will help microbes go deep.  The slurry beforehand builds it before it goes into the soil.   The specific point of the flour is that it is a particularly effective way of growing fungi/mycelium. That's why so many types of mushrooms are grown on grains.  Many doctors have warned people with yeast or fungal imbalances to avoid too much flour. But here we want to cultivate a diverse microbiome.  The other stuff is great for growing bacteria and other microbes.  The fungi in the soil particularly help the woody plants like trees.
John S
PDX OR
 
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This might be an odd thought but I usually have a flour slurry in the fridge in the form of sourdough starter.

It seems to me that a sourdough starter fed charcoal and flour slurry would ferment pretty rapidly.
 
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So I actually just started a biochar activation with 1 part worm casting 2 parts biochar and 2 cups of old flour. Its been 7 days and I already have these tiny mushrooms growing in it.
Screenshot_20210302-105635_Picture-Mushroom.jpg
[Thumbnail for Screenshot_20210302-105635_Picture-Mushroom.jpg]
 
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Excellent.  please keep updating.
 
John Suavecito
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I love how this is an empirically verified process, and we can see it even without the microscope.

John S
PDX OR
 
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How much flour would you suggest adding to biochar? I haven't really seen this given in terms of a ratio to the amount of char or the water used to dissolve the flour in.  

More specifically, suppose you had fully carbonized charcoal in 32 gallon trash cans and you had flour in 5 lb sacks, how would you proceed?
 
John Suavecito
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I add one cup of whole wheat flour as part of the inoculant to make 5 gallons of inoculated biochar.  It seems to work pretty well.  There are other materials I inoculate with.  I start with maybe 4 gallons of pulverized charcoal and after a week or two, it's 5 gallons of biochar. Since the inoculants are a mix of liquid and solid, they stay with the char as I put it around the dripline of the tree or bush.

John S
PDX OR

 
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If there's a pizzeria nearby, ask for old dough balls. Dough balls are only good for a limited time before they go yeasty and must be disposed of. You can easily get pounds for free.
 
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