Biochar is charcoal that you add to your soil, and it’s gaining in popularity among farmers and gardeners across the planet because it help build healthy soil and increases production yields.
If you’re in New England, that means the days of short-shorts and flip-flops are upon us. It also means the temperature outside can get a little too hot, and the air a little too hard to breath. Oh, Summer. Now that it’s summertime, it got me thinking about hydration. Specifically, I wanted to learn more about how plants actually drink.
Transpiration only occurs during the day when the leaves’ pores are open. At night, the pores close, but water molecules don’t just fall back down to the ground. They are held in place by cohesion and adhesion.
Imagine you’re at the beach on a hot day, and you take a sip on the straw of your lemonade. After you’re done, you notice that there’s some lemonade that’s still sticking to the inside of your straw.
Now think back to what we just talked about with transpiration. Can you see how when one water molecule evaporates, it pulls the molecule it’s bound to up with it, which then itself evaporates?
One interesting thing about water molecules is that if you lined them up one after another, and you tugged on the first molecule, all the other ones would move as well. This is because water molecules have one negative and one positive charge.
Leaves have pores just like your skin does. These pores are open during the day to let in carbon dioxide, which is used to make sugars that plants give to microbes in the soil in exchange for nutrients.
We know that root pressure causes water molecules in the soil to enter root cells, but that’s only part of the story. Water still needs to move to other parts of the plant where it’s needed.
There’s this really cool physical property called root pressure. Root pressure is a fancy way of saying that when there are more nutrients than water molecules inside root cells, water molecules do something amazing: they simply move from outside the cell to the inside. This movement is called osmosis.
Right now I’m sitting at the dining room table. If I wanted to get water, I’d get up out of my chair, walk to the kitchen, pour water from the tap into a glass, and drink it. Each of those tasks uses up tiny bits of my mental and physical energy. In contrast, your flowers sitting on the front porch don’t have to spend any energy to drink water.
As more people get into gardening and growing their own vegetables, biochar will take on a more important role. We all care about what we put in our bodies, and if there’s a way we can maximize how much we grow in confined spaces without chemicals, we’ll do it.
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