Terra Pretta...Charcoal Use in Soil

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<Charlie> wrote in message

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 decay.
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).
Kevin
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disaster. Dora
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wrote:

And this is why I proposed using lump charcoal, which is nothing other than oak chunks turned to charcoal in a retort.
And to think, BIlly used to cook over this stuff, ;-)
Charlie
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On Fri, 11 Apr 2008 07:48:28 -0700 (PDT), bungadora

Not only that, but charcoal briquettes (even partially burned) is one of the items that should not be added to a compost pile. I use hickory wood for outdoor grilling (with no "starters") and use the ash remains and charred wood for soil amendment.
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Who knows what burning them converts them into? Easy to make real charcoal, though. Wrap small chunks of wood tightly in foil and toss into the hot coals.
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Listen here, buddy! You seem bound and determined to keep me under surveillance, doncha?
IT'S FOR THE GARDEN! HONEST!
Charlie
"Before all else, be armed." ~Machiavelli
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On Thu, 10 Apr 2008 12:41:29 -0500, Charlie wrote:

I have used activated charcoal in terrariums, a thin layer of aquarium charcoal on top of the bottom gravel layer is often recommended. Supposedly, it acts as a purifier and helps keep the soil from getting rancid. I have used ashes which is high in potash and can be used to raise the pH when soil is too acidic or you have plants preferring an alkaline soil. Not sure how/why charcoal is different than ashes, but they are both forms of carbon.
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A "layer" of charcoal has no effect on anything and should not be mixed either with gravel or aquarium gravel if the purpose is supposed to be for any filtration benefit.
Charcoal is inert in the garden. It has no benefit beyond that of, say, perlite or ground tulfa rock. If it is burnable charcoal then burning it will result in useable potash, but you're talking acquarium gravel which is likely bitumin or coal derived, versus horticultural charcoal which is wood derived.
-paghat the ratgirl
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On Apr 10, 1:41 pm, Charlie wrote:

Supposedly good to place a layer of charcoal in the bottom of a pot, where it absorbs toxins such as from root rot due to overwatering.
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In article

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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On Apr 11, 1:27 am, snipped-for-privacy@paghat.com (paghat) wrote:

What is the available potassium value? Remember that lye is made from wood ash, the same thing as charcoal ash.
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In article

There's no such thing as "charcoal ash" as distinct from "ash." Burnt wood charcoal becomes wood ash. Wood ash has many benefits for soil which charcoal, being inert, does not possess.
-paggers
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