Pinecones – A New Biomass And Biochar Source

It is presumptive to claim a “new” Biomass/Biochar source. Nature proposes, and Man disposes, as we find or create/select/ or genetically alter new forms of biomass. (Or find new uses for an old form, as in this case).

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I believe many homeowners occasionally burn pine cones in their fireplaces. In particular they spray chemicals on them to color their flames. Copper salts for green, cadmium red etc.

I recently made charcoal pine cones. I put dry cones in a pyramid (“Pyromid?”) and lit the top cone. The dry cones easily caught fire from the first layer, and the whole pile burned down in 15 minutes to a pile of charcoal cones, which I extinguished with my trusty watering can.

pine-cone-charcoal-1

The charcoal cones are very pretty, and also fragile.

pine-cone-charcoal-2

I was delighted to find that I could step on them to give a pile of the flakes – charcoal discs 1-2 cm in diameter, and 1/2 mm thick.

pine-cone-charcoal-3

I have three plastic grow boxes (8″wide x 35″long by 7″ high) outside my house on a handy railing. They were planted with dahlia (left, tall stalk) and marigolds.

On June 8 I added 10% by volume of Pinecone char flakes to the garden dirt on the left. There was conventional Biochar from sticks, (all sizes) on the right. It is too early to tell statistically any difference in growth between flake and conventional charcoal, but it appears the flake (on left) is slightly better.

pine-cone-charcoal-planter

I believe this makes sense. The Biochar from sticks had chunks up to 2″ long. Probably not optimum! Eventually, I will dig up the plants to see the interaction between root hairs and charcoal.

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  • Tony

    September and it is spring time in New Zealand. I like the pine cone biochar idea and will try it in a tub in which this year I am planting Luffa (vegtable sponge).
    Your grandson should set up a business making web sites!
    regards Tony.