BioChar, the Miracle Ingredient for the Organic Garden

Being blessed with many coconut trees, coconut oil is one of the main products of our organic garden. So far, only the shell and the flesh have been used, while the remaining coconut husks have been burned. Considering the fact, the dry season is just about to start, we wanted to try out making biochar out of coconut husks as a soil supplement.

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Biochar adds many benefits to your garden and helps building up a healthy soil. Millions of microscopic holes provide a living environment for many different microorganisms and help holding back plenty of water. Also Nutrients are effectively locked up and are slowly released according to the requirements of the plants. This way, a loss of nutrients caused by too much rain can be prevented. Biochar can also be used in compost toilets, as a water filter or simply as a burning material. 

If you want to use biochar in the garden, it is recommended to saturate the biochar with nutrients before applying to the soil. This can be done by adding biochar during the composting process, mixing with fresh compost or watering it with compost tea. Applying unsaturated biochar directly to the soil could give plants a harder time to grow, because the majority of nutrients may be adsorbed by the char in first place.

The Principles of BioChar Production - Pyrolysis

If you want to make biochar, it is important to understand the physical principles behind the process. If you light up a fire, it is not the wood that burns in first place, but the released gases driven out by heat. The fire will burn these gases in a clear flame consuming all oxygen while forming a protective layer around the wood. As long as there is a lack of oxygen, the wood underneath will carbonize and turn into char. This is called pyrolysis. If no more freshly dried material is added and gases are no longer produced, oxygen can penetrate towards the coal, and the coal will slowly turn to ash. The key point to make biochar is to prevent coal turning into ash while maintaining a clear burn. It’s important to maintain a mostly smoke free fire in order to gain biochar with a good quality and less toxic substances caused by smoke.

To achieve the right process conditions, the physiology of the fire and the geometry of the pit are crucial. Lighting up the fire in a pit or a barrel helps suppressing oxygen flowing from underneath, causing the produced coal to turn to ash. As dry coconut husks are a good material to produce biochar, it can be hard to maintain a clear constant flame by just using husks. Therefore apply easily burnable material just as dry bamboo or wood in the middle of the fire and place the coconut husks around. This creates a chimney effect in the middle that will guarantee a good burning process.

We invite you to read the entire article from our German volunteer Phillip, who, with the help of Ella from Croatia and Evan form Australia demonstrated twice the process of bio charcoaling and enriched our Jiwa Damai soil with this precious fertilizer.

And if you like to visit our garden, or take part in our permaculture workshops, send us an email at contact@jiwadamai.net

Volunteers at Jiwa Damai

Here is our wonderful April/May volunteer team with its many different skills.
Phillip on the left from Germany, Evan our permaculture wizard from Australia, Ella from Croatia making the new critter control liquids from garlic, ginger and chilis, Margret, Jiwa Damai caretaker, Regina, our Hungarian recipe collector of indigenous local foods and Norbee, our website and video producer from Romania.

If you would like to join us, send us an email at contact@jiwadamai.net

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Charcoaled products

Ella, our Croatian volunteer and Phillipe our German volunteer, are recovering here the charcoal products after a 3 day burning in the ground, The materials burnt were mainly coconut shells. After digging a deep hole, the coconut fire was lit in the pit and brought to a high fire. Then the pit was covered with earth for 3 days. What you see is the result of a charcoaled coconuts which are extremely beneficial to be mixed with the earth to grow plants in.

If you would like to join us as a volunteer, send us an email at contact@jiwadamai.net

Gardening equipment

This is our storage shed for the gardening equipment. The hats are needed to protect form the strong sun as well as from the heavy rains. They are made out of Bamboo and they keep our staff nice and cool and protected.

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hats

The boots are for working in the river or in the mud.

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shoes

Volunteers and Woofers are welcome year-round to help us on our organic farm ! Please inquire to> contact@jiwadamai.net

Inside the Earthship inspired build

The run off rainwater is flowing through a net with gravel before entering the tanks. The wet cells in these are nearly finished and the wood structure as well. Follow us on Instagram to see the latest developments. 

Searching for the right wood for the Earthship inspired building

Our Balinese architect  Dupon, and our Chilean woodcarver volunteer Ignacio as well as our american volunteer architect, went on the search for the right wooden beams into Singaraja on the North coast of Bali. As one can see form the pictures they found what they were looking for. It needs to be of the best quality, Teak or Coco palm, or Jackfruit wood. Now it has to be transported to our location. From there all by foot and motorbike down to the Awan Damai building. The road stops nearly 900m before reaching there.

The story of Gede

We are sponsoring a youth up in the mountains and visited his house to establish the criteria needed for admission into our sponsor program This is for the senior high school student, Gede, who lives in most simple circumstances with his family. The parents do have primary school education only and wish to see their children to be well educated. They try everything to provide the money for the fees of the school. Gede was not able to join part of the last semester since the family had no money to pay for the fee.

Lagu Damai foundation is evaluating and will support Gede, after speaking now to this teacher at school. You can see in the photos Gede and his two siblings, a view into the kitchen where the family has no running water and has to get the water from 100 m below in the valley. They offered us a Jackfruit to taste and to savor.

Home of the dragon

Awan Damai is located on 800m altitude. Often the clouds cover and move slowly from the sea over the hills and mountains.  Awan Damai is the home of the dragon. She resides, of course in a different dimension then the visible one.