Growing plants with charcoal

Author: 
Tom Miles

Growing plants with charcoal
Richard Haard, Fourth Corner Nurseries, Bellingham, WA, June 27, 2007

Select image to enlarge
This is an image of our charcoal as soil additive study at our nursery. Shown is one of our test subjects a local native shrub that we propagate and sell for riparian restoration projects. Black Twinberry, Lonicera involucrata. This plant was a 2 year old seedling, bareroot harvested and stems clipped to 6 inches before planting in the test bed 7 weeks ago.

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1344/634886240_78b8dc7032_o.jpg

and our set of images on the 4CN charcoal project

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rchaard/sets/72157594444994347/

The charcoal in this test plot (charcoal 2) was prepared at our nursery from mostly alder cordwood. We had a proximate analysis on a sample of this charcoal at Hazen Labs. I sent in a sample with the fines and lumps as I applied it. Notice the ash is quite high. A considerable portion of this ' ash ' however is soil that contaminated the charcoal from our top draft earth covered pile

Proximate %
As Recd
Dry
Air dry
MAF
Moisture
34.47
0.00
1.54
0.00
Ash
27.70
42.26
41.61
0.00
Volatile
7.35
11.22
11.05
19.43
Fixed C
30.48
46.52
45.80
80.57
Total
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00

MAF = Moisture and Ash Free

Lastly we had a surprise visitor to our farm this week and by coincidence when Larry and I were studying our plots. Sean Barry and his family on a vacation trip stopped by and we had a good ole time chatting about charcoal , our project and most everything under the sun

Rich Haard, Propagation Manager, Fourth Corner Nurseries
Bellingham, Washington