Turn your bonfire into black gold!
Did you know there is a way to turn your burn pile into a usable resource which can increase your vegetable garden yields and locks carbon and vital plant nutrients into your soil. The answer is Charcoal!
Charcoal has an extremely high porosity (air/empty spaces within the material), this allows it to absorb and hold onto a high percentage of water, nutrients, and biological matter; at a much more concentrated rate than any other material found in our soil.
‘Biochar’ is a name you have probably heard of thrown around, but there is a stark difference between Charcoal and Biochar.
Biochar is simply charcoal, but has been inoculated with biological material; hence ‘Bio’ char. You can turn charcoal into its activated biochar version by simply soaking it in worm tea, compost tea or animal manure tea. It will absorb, and lock in any nutrients which are within the soaking solution. The other option is to incorporate into a compost heap, which over time will inoculate the charcoal naturally.
How to make it?
There are many methods out there to make charcoal, today we will give you the easiest, simplest way.
1: create a circular burn pile with clean wood, leaves and sticks (no nails, chemically treated or painted)
2: Set alight from the top, in the middle and enjoy it as it burns down
3: Push brush from the outside with a rake, to the middle as it burns, until you have a clean burn (no flames, mostly coals which break apart easy)
4: Once you see white ash forming on top, extinguish with a hose. You may need to do this repeatedly, depending on the size of the pile.
5: What you should be left with is Charcoal! You can break this up by hand into smaller size particles or use a woodchipper/mulcher. As above, soak in a biological tea for 3 days or longer. Incorporate into your garden bed soil or compost.
Please note biochar is not a fertiliser, but a soil amendment. You can expect an increase in yield/performance over several years, this increase is long-lasting due to the locking action of charcoal.