Green Education Center

How to make free biochar

 

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Biochar is produced when plant matter (leaves, trunks, roots), manure, or other organic material is heated in a zero- or low-oxygen environment. The carbon the organic material had previously absorbed via photosynthesis is thus captured in solid form; the resulting biochar can take the shape of sticks, pellets, or dust. When added to your garden soil this creates millions of “homes” for micro-organisms that help create a healthy soil web. This post will explain how to create and use free biochar in your backyard garden in just 10 easy steps. This article is just for reference and we are not responsible for any damage or injury caused by fire or accidents during the production of bio-char.

Step 1. Find a good place to make a big fire. I suggest having a nonflammable border and a water source near in case of run-a-way sparks.

Step 2. Dig a 3 foot by 3 foot hole in the ground.

Step 3. Place a metal pipe (air hole) in the ground at least 1 foot away from the fire pit. This will supply air to the bottom of the fire.

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Step 4. Build a fire using large logs. I usually start with 8 inch or larger pieces of oak. Let this burn for 2-3 hours.

 

 

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Step 5. After the large logs have started to coal, add a layer of smaller logs to the fire. I use 2-3 inch oak branches for this step. Let these burn for 20-30 minutes.

 

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Step 6. Cover with a thick layer of compost and wait a day or two. It needs to be thick enough to not burn thru the compost.  You want to make sure the entire fire is smothered. Make sure to cover the air hole as well. There should be no oxygen getting to the fire at this point. Do not step on the compost layer as it may be HOT.

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Step 7. After the fire has cooled, dig out the pit. It should look like this.

 

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Step 8. Collect the pieces of biochar. They should look like this and easily crumble.

 

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Step 9. Make sure you charge the biochar. If you do not “charge” the biochar it may actually leech the nutrients from your garden. I charge mine with urine or worm tea. Let it sit for at least 24 hours.

 

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Step 10. Mix and add to your garden. I usually use 8 parts compost, 4 parts manure, and 1 part biochar in a 20×4 garden bed once per year.

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Thank you for reading and I wish you much success in your garden.

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