I don't believe charcoal is biologically available carbon, any more than
diamonds are (although it IS a lot cheaper! :-). Charcoal is some of the
most durable stuff nature produces -- archaeologists can carbon date the
unburned, charred pieces of wood from ancient campfires thousands of years
after those fires finished cooking their venison. The charcoal just doesn't
I put the ashes from my charcoal grill into the compost pile. Sometimes a
largish half-burned briquette will end up slipping through my fingers
unbeknownst to me and end up in the pile. Once the compost is deployed in
the garden, these tend to float up to the surface slowly with rain and time.
They are always just as good as new when this happens -- I let them dry out
and then chuck them back into the grill for burning next time. Despite being
soggy and buried amidst billions of otherwise hungry bacteria for long
periods of time, first in the compost pile itself and later in the garden,
they show absolutely no sign of decomposition, so I don't think they can be
doing the plants any good (or bad, for that matter).
Absolutely does not do this. Water cycled through activated charcoal (of
the sort used in aquariums) has a filtering lifespan of about fifteen
minutes, then does nothing. If mixed or layered into aquarium gravel, it
does nothing, not even for fifteen minutes. If mixed or layered into
potting soil, it does nothing.
Horticultural charcoal is a completely different form of charcoal. It is
inert, has no nutrient value. It does absorb toxins. It's one and only
benefit, if mixed into soil, is porosity keeps some oxygen in the soil. It
does not filter waste, does not acidify or purify soil or water or oxygen,
does not prevent disease. It might, only might, hold in a tiny bit extra
moisture. The limited value is better met with perlite, bark, or peat.
It's benefits to plant is slight to zero, though epiphitic plants may get
some benefit from charcoal and other inert substances by right of not
needing much in the way of soil nutrients.
-paghat the ratgirl
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