Biochar question

TheMasterGardener1(5B)December 8, 2011

I am planning to use biochar as a perlite replacment. Anyone have experience using it? What size chunks should I use 1/8"-1/2" just like the suggested pine bark size? I do use the 5-1-1 will I need less lime if I use char as a replacment for perlite? I plan to try a mix of 50% peat 20% bark and 30% char. If anyone could anwer any of these question please do. Thanks in advance.

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

You must have great number of container gardens. I have seen posts from you all over Gardenweb advocating different schemes. Just this week in another post you said you were going to use pure compost. Just before that you said you were going to use bark and peat only. Last summer you argued in favor of pure peat.

As you said of one of your earlier posts advocating the use of amino acids to feed container plants, "This was a pointless post anyway."

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 9:57AM
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JerryVentura

I agree Ohio, something is amiss. I've noticed many inconsistencies for someone that goes by TheMasterGardener.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 10:46AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I see I'm not the only one that has been taking note that MG's posts seem to come replete with announcements from every direction. In itself that's fine, I suppose; but I began to find it difficult to feel that I'd contributed anything meaningful when I did reply, no matter how well-intentioned my posts might be, so it's been a while since I've felt like engaging.

Al

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 3:34PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Ohiofem, When did I say I was going to use pure compost to grow in?

Al, I have learned so much from you responding, none gone to waste. I understand air porosity and water retention from your postings an my own experience. I want to make a note that I found Dyno-gro to be the best fertilizer choice, I cant find a better one.

I am into experiments with grow media.

Corrrect if I'm wrong but I feel the question that I am asking is normal.

ANYONE HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH HORTICULTURAL CHARCOAL, BIOCHAR?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 4:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I do. It's a suitable replacement for perlite, and has no inherent magical properties.

Al

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 4:24PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Ok thank you, is it best to use 1/8-1/2" size char. I think it has a high ph of 8.5-10 will less lime be needed? Or none at all?

I want to say thanks again for the pricless info.

Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 5:10PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I used to use charcoal in my early mixes, back when I thought it would "sweeten" the soil.
However, I learned from Al that charcoal doesn't have these magical properties in soil mixes.
So I ditched the charcoal in favor of more durable ingredients...and haven't looked back since.

Biochar goes by many names, and is very effective in-ground.
Terra preta was the first term I encountered several years ago.

Josh

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 5:10PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Please any info would be good. I have been doing some research and found tests using up to 100%-75%-50%-25%-0% of char/peat. Tests showed the mix with 50/50 peat/char preformed best. Can I use up to 50% and be in safe 6-7ph range and carbon range? Anyone experienced with this?

Also, the 1/8-1/2" char will go into the 5-1-1 and seed start mix, if it was to be a part of a peat mix say 30% would it be best to use 1/2-3/4" size char?. I read alot of Al's posts about air porosity and he talks about the use of 1/8-1/2" partical size to keep the unifority of size alowing faster drainage. So would it be ideal to keep a 1/8-1/2" partical size biochar to add to somewhat fine peat moss or would it be better to use 1/2-3/4" chunks biochar? Which would increase drainage most in this situation (lets say 30% biochar/70% peat).

Where I know the 5-1-1 clearly is the best, its not the primary mix I use only because I cant find unsifted fines still, only a product I have to sift which I dont want to do.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 10:13PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

I was just reading back further in this post and noticed

someone stated,

" As you said of one of your earlier posts advocating the use of amino acids to feed container plants, "This was a pointless post anyway." "

Not sure why I would say that was a pointless post, please take the time to look for it "are your plants getting what they need" I believe its called.

This was in the first or second paragraph when I typed in Amino Acids and found it defined on Wikipedia.
"Due to their central role in biochemistry, amino acids are important in nutrition and are commonly used in nutrition supplements, fertilizers, food technology and industry. In industry, applications include the production of biodegradable plastics, drugs, and chiral catalysts"

Source; Wikipedia

The second thing that was stated was fertilizers.

I can name a number of different sources that prove amino acid applications help plant grow, let alone the countless companies that sell and include it in their nutrient programs.

I dont want to get off subject of what I was asking but I just had a chance to read back a little more and had to express that fact.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 3:59AM
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Craigsams

If you are making a seed compost you want biochar in a range of 1mm to 5mm max, but we usually use the 1mm dust. We don't use peat but when biochar is blended with coir (cocopeat) it works as well as or better than peat. Otherwise, in a regular compost or growing medium, you can let some of the pieces go up to 20mm (3/4 inch) and it is still effective. The bigger pieces act as a refuge/breeding centre for soil fungi and bacteria. A good seed compost is 11% fine biochar and 80% cocopeat coir. Some people go up to 40% biochar, but that is not necessary

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 4:49PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

thanks Craigsams,

Do you know how it effects ph? If at all.

Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 9:27PM
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