Gilbert Fritz wrote:Has anyone put biochar in potting mix?
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Has anyone put biochar in potting mix? If so, what was the recipe? How did things grow? I'm interested in making my own potting mix, but am not sure if biochar is a viable ingredient. I have lots of scrap hardwood and softwood and a TLUD biochar stove.
Those are some of the ingredients, and it appears that the general products which would end up in a midden (pre-Columbian waste heap) are much the same as what happens to be in these terra preta soils; however, whether this was an unintended system is contended. I think that it is equally or perhaps more to the effect of this volume of 'waste' being intentionally increased in order to facilitate soil building.
. Biochar was the unintentional result of their bonfires, latrines and junkyard (a waste product)
I'm going to try to sort out some of the material in these statements to clarify where I think that I differ from John. The char matrix is somewhat inert, in the same way that a greenhouse might be considered inert-it is a structure which creates an environment. To say that it has little benefit to soil life, is to ignore what that environment provides-In this case, habitat for microbial colonies and storage for small volumes of water (hardly non benefits). While it might be argued that the wood, in a temperate setting, would be better utilized being buried in hugulkultur or buried wood beds, to speak of biochar as if it's only benefit is long term nutrient storage, misses much of what I understand the biochar can offer the soil system in the (relatively speaking) short term.
In such an environment, having a long lasting organic material in the soil is beneficial. Not so much so in a more temperate region, where the organic material should be food for the soil microbes. Biochar is an inert substance that has little (if any) benefit for the soil life.
Again I can't agree with John. I think the information is being provided to make a point that might not be accurate.
Biochar is well known for absorbing water, but I have yet to see any evidence that it will ever share that water once it has collected it. It will not water your plants or the soil. It is reluctant to give up the water that it has stored.
I think that perlite or vermiculite would be more beneficial in a potting mix.
The same fire could be used to make your biochar.
Save your fires for roasting meats.
Ivan Weiss wrote:I scatter biochar in my pastures. Cattle and hogs eat it like popcorn, and when they poop it back out again, it is as inoculated as it could possibly be. This study, from Germany, indicates that this is a sound practice. I hope this is helpful.
Research conducted at Iowa State University indicates that screened biochar can be used successfully to replace perlite in greenhouse potting media. The high pH of biochar can also neutralize the acidity of peat and eliminate the need for lime. A mix with 30% biochar and 70% peat moss had a pH and physical characteristics very similar to a commercial peat-perlite potting mix
John said, "In my case, it isn't potting soil but seed starting soil mix.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:Gilbert, the prime purpose of biochar is that of increasing micro organisim viability, not water retention or soil loosening. When thought of in the way it works, it really has better uses than as a part of a potting mix.
That said, the one thing it will do for a potting mix is to act like an activated charcoal, it will "sweeten" soils that are sour and it will slow down the souring of a potting mix, probably the reason I have found charcoal in some blends I've purchased way in the past.