Spring is just around the corner and is the best time of the year to get excited about all the planting and growing. Don’t rush it, though. To see your plants flourish, you need to prepare your soil as Spring approaches.
One of the best natural ways to prepare your soils for spring is through using Biochar. The properties of Biochar make it great for soil remediation, especially for land which may have lost some nutrition during the winter months. Here are some helpful tips and tricks using biochar to prepare your soil for Spring.
About biochar and its role in soil preparation
Biochar is a solid type of charcoal which is carbon-rich and will remain in the soil for a long period of time. Though not a new concept, some home gardeners may only have heard about it recently. Biochar can be used in soil preparation for enhancing the fertility of your acidic, sandy or otherwise difficult soils.
Depending on your soil type and situation, read on to find out how you can determine your biochar usage and apply it to several different areas of your garden.
Your soil situation
First, look at the area of soil where you’re going to be working and assess just how much of the organic matter has depleted. For instance, you may notice your soil’s texture being pitted with craters rather than the coveted black, rich earth. Some soils may not have much organic matter to begin with.
Worm castings or compost can make up this deficiency, but a better option may be to add some mulch or organic matter combined with your biochar along with some water. This combination forms a solid structure where much-needed microorganisms will be retained in your soil.
Once the biochar has been applied along with the new organic matter, add more water daily for the first few days. It won’t be long, and you will have the richest kind of soil that can promote plant growth and improve crop yield. You can find an overall guide on how much to use here.
How to know if you’re using the ideal amount of biochar
It is important to use the right concentrations of biochar. For the healthiest results, the soil in your planting area should ideally be around 5-10% of biochar. Keep in mind that all this biochar doesn’t have to be mixed into the soil in one go. Add it in gradually, so that it seeps down under the roots of your plants.
Be mindful that the depth at which to add your biochar depends on what you’re planting. Shrubs, vegetables and flowers have shallower roots than trees and should therefore be applied shallower. To gain the best results from biochar, it is recommended to re-apply every few years, or whenever needed.
If you’re using biochar for your lawn, aim for a 5% mixture with the soil underneath as this will help the grass to grow thick and lush.
Biochar for vegetable gardens
Even if your soil seems to be in an acceptable condition, you can still reap the rewards of biochar. For vegetables, it’s ideal to have a nice balance of carbon, nutrients, micro-organisms and nitrogen. Biochar can help to provide and maintain this balance, and so mixing biochar into the first 4 to 6 inches of the surface can be beneficial.
Biochar for severe depletion
It has been proven that biochar can help to improve the condition of severely depleted soils. Biochar is excellent for those times when your soil seems sadly depleted of all organic matter. In such situations, mix equal parts of biochar with compost or any kind of pure organic matter. This will turn your soils around and they will be fertile in no time.
Remember the adsorptive qualities of biochar will ‘suck in’ nutrients in your soil when applied raw. Therefore, it is best to inoculate (charge or mix your biochar) before you apply it. It is recommended that you do this at least two weeks or more before you mix it into your soils. Inoculation can be achieved by mixing biochar with compost or worm castings at a ratio of up to 1:1 (50/50).
As you can see, it is important to prepare your soils with biochar at least two weeks prior to seeding. This is to ensure you give the biochar enough time to collect all the nutrients which can be aided by making sure the area is watered for the first few days. This way, your seeds will be sure to sprout healthy plants that have improved biomass.