Using Biochar on the veg beds

This year we are using biochar for the first time on our courgettes, marrows, cucumbers and tomatoes.
One of the great things about gardening is that every yearly cycle provides the opportunity to experiment with different growing techniques in what is essentially a long-term real-time growing trial.

what Is biochar?

For those who haven’t come across the term, biochar is the lightweight charcoal-y  residue left when branches and other plant material is burnt carefully with restricted oxygen – it looks like a bag of charcoal chips.

Advocates of biochar claim it can produce all manner of wonderful effects on plants and the soil, from improved drainage to increased yield and plant health. It improves the structure of soil which is prone to waterlogging, yet also retains water (and therefore waterbased nutrients) in dry soils. The pieces of charcoal themselves have a porous structure and provide habitat for microorganisms, increasing the biological activity of the soil – which in turn improves nutrient uptake by plants.

This already sounds like a great addition to the vegetable growing regime, and that’s before we take into account that the biochar we’re using is produced as a result of burning invasive species which have been cleared from various Scottish locations by Gammix Contracts in Aberdeenshire.

I’ve seen recommendations of various different ways to actually apply biochar – we’re starting by mixing it with a top dressing of home made compost on no-dig beds, and then watering well with comfrey/nettle tea before planting through woven fabric. We’ve added it to alternate bays in the polytunnel, so it will be interesting to observe whether there’s any noticeable difference in plant growth, health or even yield.

the End result

The organic fruit and vegetables we grow all go into our range of handmade jams, chutneys, jellies and sauces so we’re interested in anything which can improve the yield and even potentially the flavour of our crops. Click here to buy our organic preserves ( ) and please do get in touch if you have any advice or tips of using biochar – we’d love to hear your experience