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

The beautiful creature of our gardens

Our long time volunteer Lucas found this beautiful creature in our gardens. Is it going to be a butterfly, or will it remain like this? Its emerald green color is so impressive.

The garden crew and the mud bath

Here is our new garden crew, consisting of Komang, Ketut, Made and joined by our volunteer, Remy, from France. All are working very hard to make deeper channels to allow the immense rain waters to be drained properly. A hands on job, a mud bath actually. :)

If you would like to volunteer, please let us know at contact@jiwadamai.net!

Growing conditions for Oyster mushrooms

The Oyster mushroom can grow at moderate temperature ranging from 20 to 300 C and humidity 55-70%.

Due to the cultivation method we use, we have to differentiate among two places in Jiwa Damai.

The first place is in the garden storage, where the humidity and light conditions are less strong, just as it is needed for the first phase of the mushroom's cultivation. 

Second is under the bridge being the butterfly garden, where humidity and light are higher, just as it is needed for the second false of cultivation, lots of humidity and light enough for reading.

And here are the results! 

Garden Tour at Jiwa Damai

We offered a garden tour during the moment the rains stopped for a moment. Margret took our Kula Collective Yoga Teacher Training class of lovely ladies on an extensive garden tour. Here they are standing in front of the butterfly garden, which has been recently mulched with rice straw. The other photo is in the Mandala garden with its flowers and various greens.

You can always take a tour at Jiwa Damai, but you have to book in advance at contact@jiwadamai.net. 

High officials visit Jiwa Damai

Jiwa Damai received high officials. We were honored with the visit of the head of the Badung regency police chief. He came with 20 of his staff to visit us, appreciate the work we are doing as well as walking through our gardens and watching our foundation video: Lagu Damai Bali Foundation. 

Since it was the month of Ramadan, the all day fasting, we invited the chief and his stuff to break their fast in the evening with a buffet at Jiwa Damai. Our kitchen fairies provided a wonderful healthy buffet for all.