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.

biochar.jpg

 

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

volunteers.jpg

Cremation Ceremony in Bali

The grandmother of one of our team members died. The whole village takes part in the process of sending her body and ashes off. The whole process takes about ten days with members from each household in the village participating and preparing many offerings.

Dr. Margret from Jiwa Damai visited the compound and like other village members brought rice, coffee and sugar and an envelope with a donation. The people participating preparing, washing the body are all fed with the support of the villagers food donations.

On the first day, after many rituals, the actual cremation takes place. The Gamelan group playing their instruments and beginning the walk through the village to the cremation grounds. Man follow and carry the body in a special container, built according to the caste the grandmother belonged to. The women walk separately at the end.

In the cremation grounds, the priest again performs blessings and ceremonies before the corpse is set on fire. There are actually two fires, one for the body and the other one for the coffin looking like box in which she was carried on.

Most villagers will stay, talk and smile a lot while this takes place. After which the ashes will be brought by the closest family to the see, to be set free in the water.

Visitors at Jiwa Damai

Some of Margret’s old students she taught in Java, Indonesia, now practicing  psychotherapists and lecturers at various universities, came for a refreshment seminar in HeartSelf-intelligence to Jiwa Damai in August. We are happy to share some photos with you.

Incredibly inventive local Balinese team

Here you see how incredibly inventive our local Balinese team  is. The tires for the Earthship inspired building have to be unloaded by the large trucks on top of the hill and then loaded on motorbikes to be ferried down via a small path to the building site. Placing a stick across the back of the seat of the bike, tying them with string, he actually manages to take 8 huge tires with him on one bike and take them downhill .

What an art it is! The tires for the Earthship inspired building have to be unloaded by the large trucks on top of the hill and then loaded on motorbikes to be ferried down via a small path to the building site. Placing a stick across the back of the seat of the bike, tying them with string, he actually manages to take 8 huge tires with him on one bike and take them downhill . What an art!

Volunteers at Jiwa Damai

A wonderful volunteer group with incredible supportive skills. Evan from Australia, giving much love and knowledge to our garden, Iseult from France, supporting with her graphic skills improvement on the website, Lulu from Brazil, introduces many wonderful recipes how to prepare cassava from her Brazilian cooking heritage. Our Chilean fairy, filming and producing four wonderful videos, last not least Boris from Bulgaria, working though our website and company structure. A great group.

If you would like to join us as a volunteer, find out more

Motorcycle gang at Jiwa Damai

What a surprise! On Indonesian National Independence Day, Margret found this motorcycle gang parked in the Jiwa Damai parking lot:  a huge number of heavy motorcycles with the accompanying drivers as well. Rasio Bali group which is connected all over the island.

Wondering why they were parked here, we tried to find out their purpose as well. After much back and forth talk, they were willing to offer support if needed for our educational and social foundation, Lagu Damai. They stressed that they support good causes and if we let them know they will support ours and we can also support theirs.

Goodbye celebration

Lukas and Analee are leaving and they gifted us with the most wonderful divine chocolate mousse cake for their goodbye celebration. This was their last evening Jiwa Damai. We are so grateful for their presence and wish them all the best in their new life. They will get married in the USA. We wish them lots of love!