Biochar is short for “biomass charcoal”. This system is used to help mitigate water shortages. When using biochar, you can cut back to watering twice a week. Biochar is made from untreated wood waste heated to 1000 degrees in an oxygen free environment. Because it is microscopically porous, it holds onto water and prevents nutrient loss to groundwater. Biochar is especially useful in areas of low rainfall and poor water retention, as it has a water holding capacity of 5-9 times its weight. It will also improve drainage in clay soils.
For best results, precharge biochar by adding to your compost pile as you build it, mix with worm castings and let mature for a week or two, or add to your compost tea. Add to compost tea water and stir before adding other tea materials and brew tea as usual. If you are planting a new area, you can add 1 inch biochar and mix well into top six inches of soil. You only need to add this much one time as it will improve the soil for a lifetime!
June Openshaw, member of the Utah Rose Society
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