A Gardening forum. GardenBanter.co.uk

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Go Back   Home » GardenBanter.co.uk forum » Gardening Discussions » Gardening
Site Map Home Register Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

Charcoal ash in compost

LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 17-04-2009, 10:42 PM posted to rec.gardens
external usenet poster
Posts: 1
Default Charcoal ash in compost

Is the charcoal ash from my grill beneficial in my compost pile or
should I leave it out? The charcoal I use says it's made from 100%
oak wood.

Old 18-04-2009, 06:12 AM posted to rec.gardens
external usenet poster
Posts: 2,358
Default Charcoal ash in compost

wrote in message

Is the charcoal ash from my grill beneficial in my compost pile or
should I leave it out? The charcoal I use says it's made from 100%
oak wood.

I'd leave it out. In the 'olden days', before the advent of cheaply
available garden chemicals that come in a plastic bag, all gardeners used
naturally occurring products. These products included animal poop and ashes
from wood burning open fires and kitchen ranges.

The practice was to save the ashes over winter, to sieve out any large
'klinkers' (charcoal) and then in Spring the ashes were spread lightly
around the garden. It has a sweetening effect on the soil ie, its similar
in action to garden lime. Spread it thinly like icing sugar (I think this
is called confectioners sugar in the US).

The klinkers were pounded up until very fine because these are what is known
as biochar and this was then also spread around the garden.

I do this each year with the ashes from my fires.

Old 19-04-2009, 06:25 AM posted to rec.gardens
external usenet poster
Posts: 1,179
Default Charcoal ash in compost

In article ,
Phisherman wrote:

On Fri, 17 Apr 2009 14:42:29 -0700 (PDT), wrote:

Is the charcoal ash from my grill beneficial in my compost pile or
should I leave it out? The charcoal I use says it's made from 100%
oak wood.


I tilled mine into the vegetable garden for the potash, carbon and
trace elements. I use a combination of charcoal briquettes and
hickory ash (I have three large hickory trees). You can add a small
amount of ash to a compost bin, but too much may stop the composting
process or raise pH.

I buy bagged charcoal in small irregular bits of burned wood.

Last year, Wikipedia defined briquettes as "a block of COMPRESSED COAL
dust, charcoal, or sawdust and wood chips, used for fuel and kindling."

This year, Wikipedia defined briquettes as:
Charcoal briquettes sold commercially for cooking food can include:[1][2]
? Wood charcoal (fuel),
? mineral char (fuel),
? mineral carbon (fuel),
? Limestone (ash colorant),
? Starch (binder),
? Borax (release agent),
? Sodium nitrate (accelerant),
? Sawdust.

Some briquettes are compressed and dried brown coal extruded into hard
blocks. This is a common technique for low rank coals. They are
typically dried to 12-18% moisture, and are primarily used in household
and industry.

Kingsford list the following ingredients in their briquettes.
Kingsford contains the following ingredients:

? wood char
? mineral char
? mineral carbon
? limestone
? starch
? borax
? sodium nitrate
? sawdust

I am unable to find a definition for mineral char or mineral carbon.

Until better defined, I will stick with irregular bits of real wood

- Billy
"For the first time in the history of the world, every human being
is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the
moment of conception until death." - Rachel Carson


Old 05-09-2009, 04:51 AM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144

Originally Posted by View Post
Is the charcoal ash from my grill beneficial in my compost pile or
should I leave it out? The charcoal I use says it's made from 100%
oak wood.


The ash from your charcoal will have no beneficial effect, but you are thinking along the right lines. Now if you crush the charcoal and add that to your compost bin several processes will start to take place. The charcoal will absorb the breakdown products of the decomposing vegetable waste. Then mycorrhizal fungi which have a symbiotic relationship with carbon produce a glycoprotein called glomalin. Glomalin causes the compost to adhere to the charcoal and the soil to which it is introduced. It is my belief that this how the natives of the Amazon delta created Terra Preta.

Having said that UK conditions are far removed from that of the Amazon, high temperatures and humidity may be necessary to create Terra Preta.

I am just about ready to start trials but my process will be quite different as there are other ingredients which I view as being necessary in the recreation of this self sustaining soil.
Old 15-12-2009, 04:50 AM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144

Hi All,
Given that this post has received a good number of viewings I will now take the topic a stage further.

The ancient native peoples of the Amazon delta created a self sustaining soil known today as Terra Preta.

This soil is as fertile today as it was when created approximately 3 to 5 thousand years ago. It appears to have the ability to self regenerate without the use of fertilisers, which is an astounding revealation. The arrival of the conquestadors decimated the local population through their being infected with deseases to which their bodies had no defense against.

Most of this soil remained uncultivated for a further 1500 years and yet it is still as fertile today as it was when created by these native tribes people.

I have been researching this soil for the past 3 years and am now ready to initiate my own experiments in the hope that I can find a way to re-create this soil.

The most important thing that I found out was that these ancient people not only added charcoal to their vegetable waste pits. They charcoaled animal and fish carcases in their beehive clay kilns and added them to their vegetable waste pits.

It is my belief that this is part of the secret to the re-creation of a Terra Preta type soil.

Their clay kilns allowed them to control the internal temperature by dousing the exterior of the kiln with water. This introduced steam to the interior by which means they were able to induce a lower temperature burn.

A low temperature burn ensures that the bio-oil condesates of the wood do not evaporate as they are an essential food source for Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungi.

High temperature burns evaporate these bio-condensates which if collected via a tube passed through a cold water retort produce the product known as charcoal vinegar.

The charcoal from a high temperature burn is therefore devoid of the necessary bio-condensates to initiate the Terra Preta reaction. I discovered this fact quite by chance from a site by Finnish researcher Janna Pitkien.

He said that the lowest temperature at which charcoal could be created was 120 deg C or 248 deg F .Given that this is so then this points to the the creation of their special charcaoal at low temperature.

Now to the actual recreation of Terra preta, it will not be easy to recreate Terra Preta in a zone 7 to 8 environment. The winter will cause the associated Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi to go into dormancy. This will be a learning curve in so far as no one has to my knowledge tried to recreate Terra Preta in this enviornment.

The process should be started in early April when the soil is warming, a 4” layer of charcoal is deposited at the bottom of a large plastic compost bin. Be sure to lay 3 layers of black plastic Bags at the bottom of the bin this will keep winter cold and weeds out of the process. To this is added approximately 5” of vegetable waste in the form of banana skins, potato peel, fruit no Brassica should be added as they are non-mycorrhizal .

To this should be added plenty of grass mowings as they will generate the heat necessary to get the process working the first thing that will happen is that the charcoal will soak up the nutrients of the breakdown of the fruit and vegetble waste. Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi will then feed on the nutrients of the breakdown in the presence of charcoal. After 10 days has elapsed you begin the process again. When full add a sheet of black plsatic to the top of the pile and over winter.

The product can be either trenched or worked into the soil .

I hope this information gives you the impetus to start experimenting, remember that “The Mind Is Like a parachute it is totally useless unless ti is open”

Old 20-04-2010, 03:01 AM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144


Hi All,
see my postings on this subject, they are not the be all and end all, but they are thought provoking. I just want people to think about how to
re-create a Terra Preta soil for the benefit of all.

Allotments UK: Allotments Forum, blogs, articles, TV channel, Maps …

Old 29-08-2010, 03:34 AM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144


Hi All,

It has been a while since my last post and I have learned much since then about the process.

I now believe it essential to render down the charcoal into small pieces and to inoculate the charcoal. the inoculum should be in liquid form enabling the charcoal to absorb the nutrient.

I use blood, fish and bone powder, molasses and fruit sugar, cassava and yam meal.

First render down 5 kilos of lump wood charcoal and deposit in large plastic container and mix in 1 kilo of blood, fish and bone.

To make this inoculation liquid you should use the following steps:-

To a pot add 1 gallon of water, bring to a simmer.

Add 6 ozs of both cassava and yam meal and the same amount of fruit sugar.

Stir continually for about 20 minutes turn off heat and allow to cool until tepid.

Add 2 table spoonfuls of molasses and stir in until dissolved.

Add the liquid to the charcoal mix and stir in leave for 48 hours, empty out onto plastic sheet in greenhouse and allow to sun dry.

Add in layers to a dedicated compost bin, the inoculated charcoal should be approximately 30% of the volume of the bin.

Add this compost to trenches and planting holes along with Rootgrow or similar VAM fungi product.

The addition of un-inoculated charcoal to soil will result in this charcoal absorbing all nutrient from the soil and lower crop yields due to lack of nutrient.

A 5 kilo batch of rendered charcoal is capable of absorbing approximately 11 to 15 pints of fluid, this is why inoculation is necessary.

Old 31-08-2010, 04:07 AM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Aug 2010
Posts: 1

Thank you for the video.
Old 31-08-2010, 11:20 PM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144

Originally Posted by athurart09 View Post
Thank you for the video.
Hi arthurart09,

Don't see the connection to Terra Preta, it may be that you posted this in error.

Old 10-09-2010, 03:04 AM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144


Hi All,

within the next month or so some of us on the "Allotments UK" site will be embarking on the first trial of our amended terra Preta type compost.

The trial is with Garlic, we all have different mixes and methods of re-creating a Terra Preta type compost. This we will add to the rows in which certain cloves are planted.

One row will be planted using whatever nutrient you have always used when planting cloves, the other with the amended Terra Preta type compost and VAM's. These rows should be sufficiently far apart to ensure viable results.

My own preference will be to wait until growth is evident, then inject Rootgrow gel to the roots of the amended Terra Preta type row. This I believe will encourage the VAM's attach themselves to the roots before winter sets in.

My preference is, when planting Garlic to use a bulb planter, as in create a hole approximately 5 to 6 inches deep and fill it with nutrient. Then plant the clove approximately one inch deep from the tip of said clove and cover with soil.

I have always found that Garlic cloves planted in mid to late September give higher yields due the growth being evident before winter sets in.

It will be interesting to assess the results of this trial, However I do not expect the 800% increase in cropping which Johannes Lehmann reported in his experiments on non-amended Amazonian soil.

This soil is bereft of nutrient, whereas our European soils are much more productive in terms of nutrient value. However I believe that a Terra Preta type soil amendment could achieve results in the region of 150 to 250% in certain crops. The more amenable a plant is to VAM infection the higher will be the corresponding yield.

These are just my thoughts, others will disagree, as I have said before see the thoughts of like minded people on the site previously mentioned.

I want to re-create a soil whereby no petro-chemical fertilisers, weed killers or insecticides are used. A soil which is to our liking where frogs, toads, bees and a multitude of other beneficial life forms can prosper.

A soil which Multi-National Companies have no control over to sell their poisons to, sorry about the rant but these Companies care little about the soil as long as they can make a profit!

Old 25-09-2010, 01:20 AM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144


Hi All,

Some video shorts on the use of VAM's, however the increase in crop harvest of only 20% has me thinking that they are still using inorganic methods of crop production.

VAM's and micro-organisms in general suffer when confronted by petro-chemical fertilisers, weed killers and insecticides.

By my way of thinking the purchase of VAM's should decrease year upon year once the condition of the soil has been addressed.

In an organic soil all the conditions are correct for the proliferation of micro-organisms, ideally you want a pH level of approximately 7.

smoldered low temperature burn charcoal will sweeten an acid soil as in raise the pH, if you have an alkaline soil use plenty of Bokashi fermented waste and run off liquid to lower the pH.

The use of companion planting to ward off insects does not always work, however if the carrot fly is a problem plant parsley between rows of carrot.

The use of 1st and 2nd early potato halums and rhubarb leaves are good insecticides, it should be noted that both are toxic.

Simmer the foliage in a "dedicated pot" for 20 minutes, strain and save in labelled plastic bottles marked poison!
before use add a little unscented soap or washing up liquid this will ensure that the liquid adheres to the foliage to the plants being treated.

Getting back to the point if we want greater harvests and healthier crops we seriously need to address the problem. The problem is that petro-chemical agriculture techniques are killing our soils, if you need convincing watch the video "A Farm For The Future".

Mycorrhizal Applications, Inc. | Media Gallery All

scroll down to access video archive.

Natural World: Farm for the Future Farm For The Future Video


The mind is like a parachute its totally useless unless its open!
Old 25-09-2010, 03:17 AM
Registered User
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2009
Posts: 144


Hi All,

I may have posted this before but I still consider it relevant to the remediation of toxic soil.

EM's or effective micro-organisms will I believe be our saving grace with regard to all petro-chemical toxicity within the soil.

There are approximately 5 groups of EM's which if used in specific combinations can cleanse both soil and lakes, ponds and marshes of toxic elements.

why are we not using them, because Multi-national companies control what is used. The small companies who are actively producing EM's could have cleared the oil spillage that the USA suffered and greatly reduced the environmental damage done if they had been employed.

This is what EM's are capable of doing, we are being lead by people who seek only profit from catastrophe by their means and no other!

It is time to take the bull by the horns and go our own way, personally I would like to think that the legacy that I leave to future generations will be a world worth living in!

I make no apology for what I have said regarding Multi-national companies, they are the scum of the earth and its time that we realised this fact!!!


The mind is like a parachute, its totally useless unless open!

Effective Micro-organisms

PS:- There are many other sites which you can access if you have the will to do so!

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 07:03 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
Copyright ©2004-2017 GardenBanter.co.uk.
The comments are property of their posters.