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Does used activated carbon have any value to garden/regular plants?

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Whenever I clean my filter, I do it next to some plants to give them fertilizer. Does used activated carbon have any value to garden/regular plants such as breaking down in the soil or anything like that?

Thanks.
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Whenever I clean my filter, I do it next to some plants to give them fertilizer. Does used activated carbon have any value to garden/regular plants such as breaking down in the soil or anything like that?

Thanks.
I believe it takes a very long time for activated carbon (charcoal) to break down in the soil. There are many examples of archeologists finding charcoal in sites dating back tens of thousands of years, so aside from its CEC, it must remain very stable. Of course, if it is ground up into dust, it would likely break down faster, just from an erosion standpoint. If you put it in your garden soil, I doubt it would harm anything, and may do some good, considering its CEC. In creating terrariums, it is often placed as the bottom strata before adding other soil components, which is said to prevent the soil from "going sour", and that would indicate it certainly does no harm. I have a surplus of carbon that I've accumulated over the years from buying new filters or some other package deals, because, personally, I don't use carbon in my filters unless I'm trying to remove something specific from the water, such as tannins, medications or possibly after household pest control chemicals have been sprayed, in case some may have become airborne and I have some species that might be sensitive to it (such as crustaceans). When I received a couple of used canister filters in a deal, they had bags of carbon in them; I used them as substrate filler in my aquascape.

Olskule
 

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Whenever I clean my filter, I do it next to some plants to give them fertilizer. Does used activated carbon have any value to garden/regular plants such as breaking down in the soil or anything like that?

Thanks.
I don't think so other than keeping the soil from becoming compacted which is always a good thing, especially if you don't have active colonies of earthworms around.

As for the use of it in terrariums, meh. People like to make succulent and cacti terrariums and the plants always die because they are constantly sitting in a wet environment. Such plants do not like wet roots and forcing them to live without proper drainage is a death sentence. By proper drainage, I mean the excess water is allowed to drain from the container that they are living in.

This is a problem for non-aquatic plants in general. Go into any big box store where they have walls of shiny pots and most of them don't have drainage holes. I suppose it is sinister to think that this is done on purpose. No drainage holes = dead plants. People don't know why their plants keep dying so they buy more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Tip


When you do water changes, Instead of pouring the water down the sink, use it to water your garden/potted plants especially if you vacuum your substrate, that water is full of nutrients your plants will love.

Yeah, I put it on this tree and it grew really big. I use to empty out my 75 with the gravel vacuum and a really long hose to where this tree was planted.

My goldfish tank water was emptied out on a keylime tree and it started having keylimes even though its still relatively small tree due to being in a pot.

I have another citrus tree which I'm not sure what type is it. I planted it and it has not grown in a while. I think I may try some fish water on it and see how that works.
 

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All my houseplants and half the garden get the tank wastewater. (Except for some of my ferns which are sensitive to excess ferts!). In fact I am often picky about who gets the tank water- it goes to favored plants or those I am trying to give a boost.

I always used to throw away the carbon filter pads after using them to clear the water- have one right now in a tank because it had meds. After reading this, I'm going to cut them open and dump the used charcoal in the garden. (I hate to throw stuff away)
 

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I used to have a small koi pond that I filtered with an old swimming pool filter, so to clean the filter, I simply turned it to the backwash setting and ran it into the flower beds. Of course, the first flush of backwash was loaded with fish sh... I mean "nutrients". The plants loved it and grew like crazy! (BTW, it's off-topic, I know, but if you ever need a good mechanical filter for your garden pond, try to pick a used swimming pool filter for cheap from some classified ads or a pool supplier. They work great with a submersible pump for removing particulates, but you'll need to consider other bio-filtration means.)

Olskule
 

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Yeah, I put it on this tree and it grew really big. I use to empty out my 75 with the gravel vacuum and a really long hose to where this tree was planted.

My goldfish tank water was emptied out on a keylime tree and it started having keylimes even though its still relatively small tree due to being in a pot.

I have another citrus tree which I'm not sure what type is it. I planted it and it has not grown in a while. I think I may try some fish water on it and see how that works.
Where are you located?

As for the carbon it is good as a soil sweetener.

http://healingtools.tripod.com/char_gard.html
 

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Yeah I'm in FL also. Used to have a tone of citrus but greening had its way with them so I am out of the citrus growing. Started with fig trees instead. Where about in FLA?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yeah I'm in FL also. Used to have a tone of citrus but greening had its way with them so I am out of the citrus growing. Started with fig trees instead. Where about in FLA?
I am in Coral Gables/South Florida area. Where in Florida are you from?

I hope that greening disease does not get my citrus tree. I'm not sure what I can do to stop this disease. I used to have some citrus trees but back in 2000 back when the state was going around killing all the citrus trees to stop some other citrus disease. I'm not sure what was wrong with them but they were like dormant and never grew for years they stayed the same size.

This new one is actually growing so I am very excited.

Thanks.
 

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I am in Coral Gables/South Florida area. Where in Florida are you from?

I hope that greening disease does not get my citrus tree. I'm not sure what I can do to stop this disease. I used to have some citrus trees but back in 2000 back when the state was going around killing all the citrus trees to stop some other citrus disease. I'm not sure what was wrong with them but they were like dormant and never grew for years they stayed the same size.

This new one is actually growing so I am very excited.

Thanks.
I'm in the Tampa area. The disease you're thinking of was citrus canker. They burned tens of thousands of trees both in groves and private homes. The greening is killing off Florida's citrus industry. There is no cure for it just measures to stave off the death of the tree. And those measures aren't cheap. Greening got all of my trees and once it's in the soil you really won't have any success with citrus again. I've got one grapefruit hanging on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I'm in the Tampa area. The disease you're thinking of was citrus canker. They burned tens of thousands of trees both in groves and private homes. The greening is killing off Florida's citrus industry. There is no cure for it just measures to stave off the death of the tree. And those measures aren't cheap. Greening got all of my trees and once it's in the soil you really won't have any success with citrus again. I've got one grapefruit hanging on.

Are you saying that the disease(bacteria I think) will live in the SOIL forever? The fact that I have not had a citrus tree in over 10 years is not enough?

I guess they are going to have to genetically modify the orange trees or else we are going to not have it in the future right?

That is really horrible. I had some people over to do some work on my house and they were all admiring the citrus tree and talking about it. Maybe due to that disease, they have not seen a citrus tree in a long time.

Thanks.
 

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Not sure if it is in the soil truthfully. I just know I am not wasting my time and money on citrus anymore.
 

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I don't think so other than keeping the soil from becoming compacted which is always a good thing, especially if you don't have active colonies of earthworms around.

As for the use of it in terrariums, meh. People like to make succulent and cacti terrariums and the plants always die because they are constantly sitting in a wet environment. Such plants do not like wet roots and forcing them to live without proper drainage is a death sentence. By proper drainage, I mean the excess water is allowed to drain from the container that they are living in.

This is a problem for non-aquatic plants in general. Go into any big box store where they have walls of shiny pots and most of them don't have drainage holes. I suppose it is sinister to think that this is done on purpose. No drainage holes = dead plants. People don't know why their plants keep dying so they buy more.
We just replaced the activated carbon in our whole house filter and I am intrigued by your mention of earthworm colonies. We need to dispose of the old carbon and I wonder if it will help us control the invasive Chinese "jumping" worms we have an overabundance of in upstate NY. Are you familiar with this species? I wonder if scattering the old carbon in the garden beds will help rid us of them.
 

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We just replaced the activated carbon in our whole house filter and I am intrigued by your mention of earthworm colonies. We need to dispose of the old carbon and I wonder if it will help us control the invasive Chinese "jumping" worms we have an overabundance of in upstate NY. Are you familiar with this species? I wonder if scattering the old carbon in the garden beds will help rid us of them.
You're aware this is a planted tank forum and you're responding to a post from six years ago, right?

But.. what? No, scattering carbon isn't going to help you get rid of worms.
 
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