How Biochar Can Change the World

How Biochar Can Change the World

We’ve Got a Soil Problem

Everyone knows that soil is incredibly important to sustaining life on Earth. With modern agricultural practices, we are playing a game of Russian roulette with how long the soil can continue to provide fertility with a mono-crop chemically heavy approach to growing plants. We now have a massive amount of soil that is depleted of nutrients, polluted with chemicals and fertilizers, and unable to absorb or hold an ample amount of water. There are now many areas in America where the soil is either too depleted or unfit for planting directly into it.

plant biochar

We’ve Got an Answer: Biochar

Biochar is made from organic waste material (in our case Bamboo) that is burned at high temperatures in an environment without oxygen. When it burns that hot, all that is left behind is the carbon structure of the wood. You have a perfect, lightweight soil sponge that feels almost glasslike. This magic black dust can be used to reactivate and regenerate your soil. Biochar is made from a process called “pyrolysis” where the material: typically wood chips, straw, grass, and gardening waste. This gets burned at 800 degrees Fahrenheit in a dirt pit, and voila: biochar.

plant biochar the earth alchemy

Our Biochar

The biochar we sell is made from a nearby farm in Florida and is charged and ready to go with worm tea. You are able to immediately use our biochar for your potted, indoor plants as a top dressing, or mixed in with soil at a 1:10 ratio (1 part biochar to 10 parts soil). You can also mix it into your compost at the same ratio to supercharge the biodiversity in your compost pile.

Biochar Benefits

  • Holds moisture & fertilizers & time-releases these to the plants
  • Sequesters carbon in the soil to combat climate change
  • Permanent soil amendment. Lasts for decades. Substitute for vermiculite
  • Amplifies the effect of fertilizers (use less plant food!).
  • Coral reef for your soil! Creates a home for all the microbes - both bacterial and fungal - it's a soil party and all the cool kids are invited!

Super Charge Your Soil

There are a couple ways to use biochar in your garden. The first is with your soil. Biochar will breathe fresh air into your soil, by giving it better water and nutrient absorption. This means you have to water your plants less, and the plant gets more of the water because the soil has a higher water retention rate. In addition to the water retention, Biochar holds nutrients. This allows the biochar to slowly release nutrients with the water, providing the plant with consistent food.

Biochar acts like a coral reef in the soil. It creates a space for all the microbes to live! Fungi and bacteria thrive with biochar in the soil, especially when you start by charging the biochar with the microbes in worm tea! The more hospitable the soil is to different creatures, microbes, insects, nutrients, and water, the more available nutrients you have in your soil!

Biochar creates an environment for different microclimates to thrive and cultivates more life in your soil. You will see a rejuvenation in your plants and garden after adding biochar. Healthier soil grows healthier plants!

Another way to use biochar is by adding it to your compost. This will also increase the nutrients and potency of your compost. Think of biochar an organic steroid for your garden. Your soil was depleted and eroded, by using biochar directly in the soil or in compost it will revitalize your soil and give your garden the metaphorical shot in the ass that you get on week 2 of pesky sickness from the doctors.

How to Charge Biochar

Biochar needs to be charged, or activated before you add it to your soil or compost. Let’s talk about a bunch of different ways to do it.

Charge with Worm Tea

Worm tea is the byproduct of vermicompost, which is a type of compost that uses worms to eat, digest, and discard waste to produce a super-potent compost. This tea is made with the liquid waste of the worms and water or from worm castings and water. Mix 1 part worm castings with 4-6 parts water. Then let it sit for 1-2 days while being aerated/oxygenated with a small pump.

Once you have the worm tea ready, add the biochar to the worm tea. Make sure the water always covers the biochar, and let it sit there for 24 hours up to 3 weeks. Once it has been charged, you can mix it with the soil to use or apply it as a top dressing to existing soil.

Charge with Compost Tea

This is extremely similar to working with worm tea, but you make the tea with compost instead of worms. We mix our compost 1 part compost to 4 parts water, and then we let it stew for 1-2 days while being aerated/oxygenated with a small pump. We then add the biochar, and the water needs to always cover the biochar. Let the compost tea and biochar blend for 24 hours- 3 weeks. Then either blend it with soil or add it to the top of already established plants.

Charge with Urine

Put the urine in a container, and add biochar until it floats to the top. You want to keep the biochar wet with water covering it. Let it sit with urine for 3 days, and then mix with your soil, or add on top of your well-established plants. Keep in mind the diet of the animal (or human) whose urine you choose to use. Ideally, it is free of hormones, steroids, pharmaceuticals…all that fun jazz you don’t want to put into your soil.

How to Use Your Biochar

After the biochar has been charged we are now ready to mix it with the compost or soil. When you are mixing it with soil or compost, do it in the ratio of 1 part biochar to 9 parts soil or compost. Use this on plants that are already established and not seedlings. You can also add biochar to your composts waste in your kitchen bin to reduce smells of decaying food waste.

Biochar and Climate Change

One of the main allies we have in fighting the effects of extreme weather and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is found in the soil. Healthier plants that grow bigger and stronger, can provide more oxygen, and bring much-needed shade and cooling to your home and garden. According to ZME Science, neighborhoods with 30% less trees are 7.4 degree Fahrenheit warmer than their counterpart with 30% more trees. As temperatures continue to increase, sustainable ways to cool your home can be found through the garden and the plants you have.

Biochar also rejuvenates the soil and increases water absorption which prevents soil erosion. As extreme weather can unload inches of rain, and heavy winds that can blow heavily eroded soil into dust storms, the soil health in your garden had a direct connection to how well your garden can absorb water and withstand heavy winds.

Biochar is also made out of completely renewable material, so we are also cutting back on our waste while converting it into something that is completely restorative to our gardens, communities, and planets. As the long-term effects of climate change become more apparent, the ability of communities to grow their food sustainably, within the community, will be a key factor in the success and survivability of said community.

I believe Biochar is an integral part of the plan to save this world. She needs our help. We should all be doing the work to rebuild healthy soils, and biochar is a great tool in the toolbox to do just that.

Come see me at Green Thumb Festival this weekend, April 29th and 30th to scoop some up for yourself! Biochar (AND Worm Castings!) will be going live on the website after Green Thumb. So excited to share this black gold with you all.

#biochar #climatechange #soilproblem