Happy May Day! It has been the most beautiful spring this year. Warm days interspersed with a few cooler, rainy ones. The grass is growing tall. Roses are already flowering. And there are so many amazing shades of green everywhere I look. The young grape vines are a lime green. The rosemary is deep forest green. The lavender and artichoke are gray-green. The kale is a deep blue-green, and there seems to be a million shades in between all of those easy to name greens.
Today I mostly want to report back on my charcoal mini-experiment. Here again are the photos of the newly pricked out Komatsuna plants. Crushed charcoal (about 1 teaspoon) was added to the 3 right side pots of each 6 pack.
Here are photos of the same plants 2 weeks later.
There is no noticeable difference. Now this is nowhere near big enough of a sampling to be definitive, but I do think it helps clarify where and when charcoal is helpful. My potting soil mix is one half of a commercial blend that contains some worm castings and one half my own homegrown compost. It’s a rich mix and clearly the charcoal couldn’t make it any better. This may be true in general of well cared for temperate soils with a high humus content. Getting that humus to stick around in tropical soils is a real trick – which is why the biochar makes such a huge difference to those soils. Concentrating on good composting techniques and heavy mulching may be equally effective and easier in northern latitudes.
The charcoal is a free extra resource for us and we’ll continue to use it around our woody perennials – the fruit and nut trees, currants and blueberries, for example. At this point, however, I wouldn’t go out of my way to make it. Compost and mulch are still the number one priorities for building living soils in this area.
What experiments are you trying in your gardens this spring? How are they going?