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

Coconut production

Our coconut oil production is in full swing. Presently we have many requests for coconut oil. We will export for the first time and are quite pleased to be able to offer our high quality totally hand crafted cold pressed coconut oil to be used for many purposes. To be taken orally, used as a cream, for cooking and many other uses. It is actually, aside from being a health food and food supplement a powerful alternative medicine.

Rains at Jiwa Damai

We not only lost many trees and bamboos, the gardens top soil, being beaten daily by extremely powerful rains has diminished a lot. Deep trenches were dug to allow the masses of water to drain into the river. Presently we are trying to recuperate as much soil as we can. All is very muddy and the rains are still coming down.

Algae have taken over everywhere, due to the high humidity and are flourishing on walls and stones.

Papaya harvesting

Nata and Komang just harvested some of our Papayas. If they are very young, we use them to make a most delicious vegetable dish. They have to be green and they taste a bit like asparagus. When they begin to gently yellow a bit, they are harvested as a fruit, placed in a dark corner to turn bright yellow the outside. These special Balinese papayas have an orange fruit flesh. It kernels , crushed and bitter tasting,are a known natural medicine for any kind of liver ailments.

The cleaning process

The cleaning up process after the powerful storms is done by 12 daily workers and our own team. There is so much to clean and to rearrange. Here we are burning some the Bamboo left overs from cleaning the more than 200 Bamboo which were felled by the storm.


The new salad plants, after re-creating our garden soil which was flooded away by the large storms are waiting to be reinserted lovingly into the earth in our mandala and butterfly garden. They will need initially protection with a plastic roof until the plants are big enough to not be destroyed by the strong rains.

Storms at Jiwa Damai

May we share with you the impact of the last two storms in an extremely heavy rainy season which led us to close Jiwa Damai center for at least until the end of January? This is also part of having a wonderful garden, to see the changes brought by a dramatically changing weather and their effect on the soil, trees and buildings.

We have built over the past 10 years our fertile soil on an underlying clay layer. The rains flooded most of our topsoil away and we have begun again from scratch so to speak. Nata and Komang are cutting the broken bananas for compost in our quite funny looking compost area after the storm.

Many hands are helping and we are seeding in our nursery. After sprouting they are placed individually into the containers made from banana  leaves to be later transplanted into the garden.

Our beautiful Mandala garden has changed its face. It is coming along again, with a net spanned overhead in Mandala design, to protect from too strong rains and too strong sun, as well as with plastic tents until the smaller plants are able to take the strong rain.

Herbal Spiral

Here is Dr. Margret Rueffler’s latest creation, a herbal spiral. Up to now, it has been quite challenging to grow western herbs in our tropical climate, at Jiwa Damai in Bali. Here we choose a place half sunny and half covered. After mixing generous amounts of earth with our hot compost, various herbs were plated and then covered with saw dust.

We have White sage, Melissa, Thyme, and many others. If you are passionate about permaculture and want to learn more, let us know! 

Making coconut oil with love

At Jiwa Damai we make coconut oil with much love. You can see the entire process in this wonderful video. 

At the same time, you can read more about the different stages of making coconut oil on our blog, its benefits, its use in different recipes and also how are interns are using it. Read more! 

See below all the local products that we are offering at Jiwa Damai! 

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.