How to Use Biochar for a Thriving Garden (Steps, FAQs)

How To Use Biochar

Want to learn how to use biochar properly?

Using biochar is one of the best ways to grow happier and healthier plants in your garden. And it’s actually quite simple! 

All you have to do is activate the biochar and then apply it to the soil based on your requirements — you’ll be able to see your garden thrive in no time. And if you want an easier and faster method, just use Rosy Biochar Potting Mix, which is pre-activated.

In this article, we’ll cover how to use biochar and how much you should use in your garden. We’ll also answer two FAQs to help you out.   

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Let’s dig in.

How to Use Biochar In Your Garden

Resembling charcoal or wood ash, biochar is a carbon compound produced through the pyrolysis (thermal decomposition in the absence of oxygen) of biomass (organic matter like manure, rice hulls, and wood chip pieces).

Its use as a soil amendment was first documented on “terra preta”, a highly fertile soil used in the Amazon basin over 2000 years ago. 

The Amazonians produced terra preta soil by burning and then burying agricultural waste in trenches or pits and used it to improve soil health and crop yield. 

(We’ll explore the benefits of biochar later in this article.)

Let’s see how you can use biochar to enrich your garden.

Step 1: Activate the Biochar

If you mix raw biochar into your soil, it’ll take up the soil’s nutrients, moisture, and microbes, reducing its potential for plant growth. However, this is temporary — eventually, the biochar will share the nutrients with the plants, improving yields in the long run. 

But to avoid this preliminary soil nutrient absorbing effect, you can activate (charge) biochar by mixing it with organic material like compost.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Create a 50-50 mix of biochar with compost, grass clippings, manure, or potting mix. You can also soak biochar in liquids containing many nutrients and beneficial microbes, like compost tea (water from soaking compost).
  • Leave the mix aside for at least ten days to completely charge (activate) the biochar. 

And voila! You now have enriched biochar that you can apply to your garden.

Does this sound like too much work?
If you don’t have the time or resources to activate biochar, you can buy biochar products that come pre-charged.

And when it comes to pre-activated biochar, there’s nothing better than Rosy Biochar Potting Mix

Rosy Biochar

Produced from soft pine wood chip waste that would have otherwise gone to landfills, Rosy Biochar offers the most-sustainable soil improvement products you can use for an organic garden.

Rosy provides a ready-to-use biochar Potting Mix that is perfect for indoor and outdoor gardens. You can apply it directly to your garden soil — no activation required! 

Consisting of fine biochar, plant-based compost, and endomycorrhizal fungi (microbes), the Potting Mix improves soil nutrient retention and plant growth — while reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide as it can sequester carbon

So if you don’t want to waste time activating biochar, grab a bag of Rosy Biochar today

Let’s now see how you can apply the enriched biochar to your garden soil. 

Step 2: Apply the Activated Biochar

Here are three ways you can apply biochar in your garden:

1. Top Dressing

The simplest method for the application of biochar is to sprinkle it on top of the soil. 

You can add the activated biochar (organic matter + raw biochar) directly to the plant’s base and let it sink into the soil as you water it. As the soil amendment sinks in, it brings water and nutrients that the plants can easily take up.

2. Mix it into the Root Zone

Applying activated biochar directly to the plant root zone helps plants grow. It’s also the primary method of application for clay and sandy soils.

You can use a spade to mix the biochar into the soil or techniques like vertical mulching (creating holes around the plant and filling it with organic matter) to make it readily available to the plant roots.

Alternatively, you can apply biochar directly to the root zone using a subsoil liquid injector. You need to mix 1 part biochar with 39 parts water and inject it into the soil using a liquid fertiliser injector.

3. Add it to the Potting Mix

Adding biochar to the potting mix is a biochar application method for new plants you’re yet to pot or garden. You can also add biochar to existing potted plants by working the biochar into the potting mix with your hands or a small rake.

Let’s now discuss biochar addition and how much you need to use.

How Much Biochar Should You Use?

The amount of biochar you need depends on the soil quality and area of application.

Here are four areas of gardening with their recommended biochar application amounts:

A. New Pots and Plants

Usually, the biochar quantity you apply depends on the material’s individual properties. 

If you’re unsure about the biochar quality, using a lower quantity of 5-10% biochar with a soil mix is recommended.

However, if you use top-notch quality biochar like Rosy, you can blend 20% pre-activated biochar with your soil or potting mix before adding new plants. 

B. Backyard Gardens

You can apply a mix of 1 part raw biochar and 1 part compost with 2 parts of soil for garden plots and flower beds.

For new tree plantings with developed roots, you can apply 1lb of biochar amendment to the soil area the plant roots would cover when the tree matures. Ideally, you should let the biochar mix with the soil for a week before planting the tree.

C. Existing Plants, Trees, and Lawns

Here are the most effective methods to apply biochar to existing plants:

  • For existing plants in pots or gardens: You can add 1-2 cups (0.25-0.5lb) of activated Rosy Biochar directly to the base of each plant. Or, you can directly add the Rosy Potting Mix to the soil.
  • For large trees: Similar to vertical mulching, you can fill charged biochar into six-inch holes around the tree with the help of a spade.  
  • For lawns: You can add 1 part activated biochar to 19 parts soil and spread it over the lawn.   

D. Severely Depleted Soils

Depleted soils have extremely low organic material. 

However, since activated biochar is nutrient and microbe rich, you can use it to improve the soil structure and soil health of depleted soils. For this, you can apply a quarter pound of activated biochar per square foot of soil. 

To help you out, here’s a handy chart summarizing how much biochar you should apply to garden soil:

Area of Application

Biochar Quantity

New pots and plants

Add 20% activated biochar to soil or potting mix.

New tree plantings with developed roots

Apply 1lb of enriched biochar to the soil around the drip line.

Existing plants in pots or gardens

Add 2 cups (0.5lb) of activated biochar to the base of each plant.

Garden plots (before planting)

Mix 1 part raw biochar and 1 part compost with 2 parts of soil.

Existing trees

Fill charged biochar into six-inch holes around the tree.

Lawns

Blend 1 part activated biochar with 19 parts soil or compost.

Depleted soil (poor soil)

Apply a quarter pound of enriched biochar per square foot of soil.


Now that you know how to use biochar, let’s look at some FAQs.

2 Biochar FAQs

Here are the answers to two frequently asked questions on biochar:

1. Why Should You Use Biochar in Your Garden?

Biochar helps promote plant growth by improving certain soil properties, including:

  • Increasing soil fertility and nutrient retention.
  • Improving soil water retention.
  • Improving soil structure.
  • Increasing soil carbon, which facilitates healthier plant life.
  • Facilitating the growth of soil microbes.

These benefits of biochar drastically decrease the effort and cost of gardening. 

Additionally, biochar helps improve our environment and fight climate change by:

  • Reducing our need for chemical fertilizers, which, in turn, helps decrease the emission of greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide from agricultural soils.
  • Facilitating carbon sequestration (capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide) in soil, which helps stabilize carbon and prevent it from being released into the atmosphere.

2. What Happens if You Use Too Much Biochar?

Due to biochar’s characteristics, adding too much isn’t beneficial for soil fertility and plant health.

Since biochar is alkaline, large amounts can increase soil pH (reduce soil acidity) levels and negatively impact soil microbes and crop yield.

Ultimately, sticking to the recommended quantities of biochar addition is the ideal way to improve soil properties and promote plant growth.

Wrapping Up

Using biochar in your garden is really simple.  

Once you activate it with organic material like compost, grass clippings, or other biomass, you can apply it to the soil according to your requirements. 

And with Rosy Biochar, you can get started right away! Grab your bag of pre-activated biochar today to give your plants and soil a new lease of life.

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