This post is sponsored by Arborjet’s Dirt on Dirt Community.
The hottest and newest thing in gardening is actually something ancient-Biochar!
So what is biochar, where did it come from, and why is it good for your garden?
At its simplest, biochar is charcoal. Yup, similar to the stuff folks use in their grills. There are some important differences though. Charcoal briquettes are made of charcoal dust that is pressed together with binders and frequently lighter fluid. Not something you’d want going near your prize roses or vegetables you want to consume.
Biochar is created by burning organic matter without oxygen in a process called pyrolysis, turning it into a porous and charged carbon material. Able to hold up to 10 times its weight in water, biochar reduces fertilizer runoff and soil compaction while providing a food source for soil microorganisms. —Arborjet’s The Dirt on Dirt website
Biochar was “discovered” by studying ancient civilizations:
Pre-Columbian Amazonians are believed to have used biochar to enhance soil productivity. They produced it by smoldering agricultural waste (i.e., covering burning biomass with soil) in pits or trenches. European settlers called it terra preta de Indio.—Wikipedia “Biochar”
This black soil made by burning agricultural waste can actually be seen in excavations:The list compiled by Biochar International with the benefits of biochar is quite impressive:
- Reduces leaching of nitrogen into ground water
- Moderates soil acidity
- Increases water retention
- Increases number of beneficial soil microbes
- Maintains production with lower chemical fertilizer inputs
- Recycles agricultural and organic waste materials
- Enhances water quality by reducing nutrient leaching into water bodies and supplies
How can you work biochar into your gardening routine?
You could of course try making your own biochar. There are tutorials available online. However creating charcoal instead of winding up with unburned vegetation or complete ash is a bit more finicky than people make it out to be. Fire has to be monitored, and in many locations you can’t just dig a trench and burn stuff in your backyard due to city/town/village regulations or a simple lack of space and materials.
Luckily, there are some quality biochar products out there, like the Arbochar products from Arbojet.
Arborjet sent me some sample sized packages to take a look at. The Arborchar products are a premium fertilizer and biochar blend–so you are getting twice the bang for your buck! They make an All Purpose Grow formula, a Root, Flower and Fruit formula and a Summer Stress formula.
These products provide nutrition via the fertilizers, improves water retention in the soil, reduces nutrient leaching, supports microbes and reduces soil compaction (which helps with plant root development). They can be used for plants in containers or in the ground. (You can download a pdf of the Arborchar All Purpose Grow label and directions to see the exact composition, NPK, and usage chart)
The different formulations look a bit different–you can see it in my sample packages. And up close you can see the charcoal biochar bits
You work the granules into the soil about an inch below the surface and then water it in well. Unfortunately it is late enough in the garden season here (we had our first frost warnings lately) that I won’t be able to see the benefits of adding Arborchar to my garden this year. However Fall is a wonderful time to clean up your garden and add amendments to your soil, giving them a chance to work in over the winter so everything is ready for your spring planting.
If you are interested in buying Arborchar you can use the “Find a Retailer” page on Arborjet’s “Dirt on Dirt” website. You can also order the products directly from the website–I punched in my zipcode and shipping for the 1lb package was just $5.
Arborjet also has several other interesting gardening products including Nutriroot liquid garden fertilizer, Azasol (an organic powdered, water soluble Neem bio-insecticide), Eco-PM (botanical fungicide) and Eco-Mite Plus (botanical insecticide/miticide).