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Biochar results Year 1 Fall of 2019
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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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1
November 18, 2019 - 7:41 pm

Biochar results Year 1 (Fall 2019)

 

This is the first full year after I have started using inoculated biochar.  I have decided to tabulate the results so others could visualize them as well.  I started with pie cherries, American persimmons, and lilacs, because they seemed to be three types of plants that liked more alkaline soil, and like most in Portland,  I have naturally acidic soil. The ash remnant in biochar makes it more alkaline.

 

American persimmons:

The ones that had been biocharred:

1 Garretson: By far more production than ever before.  I had to tie the tree to another one so it wouldn’t fall over.  Interestingly, the fruit was largely unseeded for the first time.  Could be due to rain during the pollination time, but I don’t know.

  1. Szukis: About 10 times more fruit than ever before.  This is the first time that it was ever good tasting.
  2. Young seedling: Grew a lot more, but still hasn’t fruited.
  3. Early Golden: Fruited, about the same as the previous years.

 

The ones that weren’t biocharred: 

1.NC-10: Fruited for the first time.  Supposedly the earliest variety. Fruited very late or never ripened. Fruit quality very poor.  

  1. H-118: Started to fruit, but couldn’t keep the fruit.
  2. Seedlings: About the same

 

Pie cherries:

Biocharred:

1.Montmorency1: Very healthy and productive.  About twice the production of the previous year.

  1. Montmorency2: The same. About twice as productive as the previous year.

 

Non-biocharred:

1.Montmorency3: About the same as previous year.

  1. North Star: About the same as previous year.
  2. Mixed seedling/Montmorency: About the same as previous year.  

 

Lilac:Only one that was biocharred:

  1. About twice the size of last year’s lilac bush. 

 

Goal-Fall of 2019: I am going to keep putting biochar in the soil around the pie cherries and persimmons until I’ve done them all.  Then I’ll probably switch to the raised beds as vegetables tend to prefer more neutral/alkaline soil than fruit trees do.  

John S
PDX OR

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
684 Posts
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2
November 27, 2019 - 9:58 pm

John S said
Biochar results Year 1 (Fall 2019)

This is the first full year after I have started using inoculated biochar.  I have decided to tabulate the results so others could visualize them as well.  I started with pie cherries, American persimmons, and lilacs, because they seemed to be three types of plants that liked more alkaline soil, and like most in Portland,  I have naturally acidic soil. The ash remnant in biochar makes it more alkaline.

I can see the benefits of good soil. I have heard of biochar. But what is inoculated biochar? Is it naturally high in the elements?

I love the idea.

Also it might help in the end to know what kind of rootstocks are feeding your cherries as there is already vasts of information concerning species related rootstocks tolerance to various soils, PH conditions etc.

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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3
December 2, 2019 - 5:08 pm

Most of my pie cherries are on Colt.

Inoculating your biochar is letting it absorb nutrients.  Most people grind it in some way first, to vastly increase the amount of surface area.  Some people soak it in compost tea.  I soak it in a mix of compost, worm compost, rotten fruit, mycelium, and urine.  You need to inoculate it so it doesn't suck all the nutrients out of the soil when you put it in.  This practice has been tested innumerable times in practical applications.

It's like when you can fruit, there needs to be some sugar in the water or the water will suck all of the sugar out of the fruit.

John S
PDX OR

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
684 Posts
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4
December 2, 2019 - 9:15 pm

OK. Well you sure know lots about soils alright. Thanks!!

My friend Larry who knows his chemistry had me reading a patent made by a Chinese/Canadian group on hydrogenated soils. (one of my beginning lessons on soils).

The plant patent expired early, I think because of a cheaper way to hydrogenate soils through hydrogenated water. The plant patent description was very informative a way of pumping like battery/energy up into plants/trees. 

Know anything about that at all?

(fast synopsis: on the history of hydrogen)

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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5
December 5, 2019 - 8:39 pm

No but recent articles on biochar are saying that it helps the flow of electrons through the soil, which may be why nutrients can flow better.  That reminds me of how you talked about pumping like a battery.

John S
PDX OR

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GH
Battle Ground, WA
91 Posts
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6
December 5, 2019 - 11:52 pm

John, do you make your biochar or buy it? 

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
7
December 9, 2019 - 6:33 pm

I make my own biochar. I don't think that I could afford to buy it.  I had wanted to for years, and then I finally found a video that showed me a way to make it that sounded reasonable. I think this TLUD version is great for urban or suburban, where you don't have the space to dig a huge hole and light a bonfire.  I got a free 55 gallon drum from Bee Local/Jacobsen Salt on Salmon on inner SE Portland, and the chimney from Restore for $1.

Here's the video: t=43s

The only thing I'd do differently is to just make a circle for your chimney in the top by drawing a physical circle around the chimney placed on top of the drum, and to drench the fire at the right time.  It should be when the flames die down to just barely above the height of the charcoal. 

I am really happy with how it's working out.

John S
PDX OR

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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8
December 16, 2019 - 2:11 pm

Interesting report John.  Thanks for the information.

I don't know if if counts as biochar, but I use wood ashes from woodstove on my garden.  Some is not 100% as but most is.   I think those minerals and the ph increase helped with sweetcorn and tomatoes,  and some flowers like bearded iris.  The flowers were larger and more vivid color.  I also broadcast the ashes around some pf the fruit trees and had a mostly good year.

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
9
December 17, 2019 - 10:01 pm

Ashes are a very alkaline nutritious fertilizer that changes ph but is not biochar.  Biochar is really hotels for microbes rather than a fertilizer.  It amends the soil and therefore many of the natural and beneficial soil food web interactions, but doesn't really add nutrition per se.

John S
PDX OR

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
684 Posts
(Offline)
10
February 9, 2020 - 12:34 pm

John: Just wanted you to know that I think biochar is an option that I think is one of the good things I can do as I replace my rootsprouted yard from the scourge 'St. Julien A' plum, and I enjoyed the video, thanks.

The only dislike is the part not included in the video on the lack of information having to "pre-condition" the biochar in advance of plantings. I talked to Larry who you know from Lebanon OR, who tried it years ago. He was not aware of the dangers of lack of the pre-conditioning when he potted some trees with that stuff in even small amounts which ended up almost starving his trees. My main vantage having biochar in the sandy heights here is the availability of water it would make available for the new trees I want.

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
11
February 9, 2020 - 9:44 pm

Yes, Rooney,

Pre-inoculation for biochar is absolutely crucial. It is very well documented that plants will grow more poorly for the first year or two after placing the biochar if you don't pre-inoculate it.

John S
PDX OR

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