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This is a guide about using wood ashes in your garden. Wood ash can be a good source of potassium, that many garden plants love.
Have a chimney? Here's a different use for your wood ash. It could be used for any household cleaning needs that requires scouring. It can also be used in the garden as fertilizer and if you have a pen for livestock, the ash can be sprinkled on the floor and animal droppings before sweeping. Saves you a few pennies that would have been used to buy cleaning detergents. (Did you know that wood ash, specifically that of the palm tree, is one of the two ingredients for making native soap (the other being palm kernel oil) in some parts of Africa)
During these winter months when fireplaces are in high use, you will generate quite a bit of ash. We clean out our fireplace into a paper grocery bag. The bag is then rolled shut tight down to the level of the ash and placed into a storage tub with a secure lid. One tub will hold quite a few bags.
These bags will be periodically be added to our compost heaps throughout the spring and summer. I even take one or two out the pile now and simply place the bag in the pile. Wet weather will break down the bag and keep the ash from blowing around.
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I need some ideas on what I can do with all the wood ash from our wood furnace and fire place. In the winter we use it like salt on the snow and ice. But what can I use it for now? Is it good in the garden?
By Donna from Foymount, Ontario
I use ours around our rose bushes and it helps them be so full of color and around my Azalea bushes.
Ashes work great in my garden.
I've read that SOME ash in a vegetable garden is ok but too much is bad. Since I don't know how much is too much I don't put any. We take it to the edge of the yard away from buildings and sort of spread it around. But then, we live in the boonies and nobody sees.
I believe ashes are alkaline, so don't use so much the soil pH gets unbalanced.
If you have evergreens in your yard especially near gardens or flower beds, the soil may become to acidic, causing plants and grass to die. You can get a ph tester and check to see how acid your soil is. If it is highly acidic, wood ash will neutralize it if you dig it into the soil.
If you have a compost pile, that's a great place to put them.
Thank you all so much for the suggestions! I can use many of them.
CAll your local extension service, they may ask what you plant in the garden or tell you what kinds of areas in the yard you can dispose of this at.
You can actually buy Real Wood Ashes on Amazon. Just found it!
This was truly the best advice so far! There are too many possible variables to say that wood ash is a good idea for your garden or even your compost bin. Wood ash is alkaline, and it only provides a small amount of useable potassium for the soil.
Volunteer master gardeners at your county extension office will know local details from pests and diseases to what plants grow best and what is the general soil quality of your area. They can help you know how much wood ash, if any, you should place in your garden, under a specific plant, or in general compost bin.
They can also help you make a balanced bin if you truly want to put wood ash in it.
Here are some better ways to use your fireplace ashes:
What can I do with wood ash? Besides tossing in the woods. What garden plants or veggies like it?
We have a request from November that deals with part of this question. - Editor
Just about *all* garden variety plants can use the ash... just work it into the topsoil when preparing for planting. Also, lillies are especially appreciative of ashes, as are any plants in the onion/garlic family.
We put our wood stove ashes in the garden. My husband roto-tils it all in and it is good for all vegetables.
We have always uses our fireplace ash on our roses.. they do well.. and we burn our horse manure.. (it has wood shavings and hay mixed in)and then we burn it. It will smolder for days then we use the ash on out pecan trees..and our veg. Garden.. everything flourishes.
How do I use fireplace ashes for algae control in pond? Can it be used for weed control under pine trees?
By Ernie M.
It all depends on what you are burning to create the ashes. Different woods result in ashes that are either acidic or alkaline. I would not put the ashes in the pond-it clouds the water and can kill plants and fish in it. It can also kill grass, weeds and anything under the tree. It also picks up and blows when the wind blows. We dump our ashes far from the house in an old tank. Once one of the kids dumped it closer to the house and it was windy a few days later. Ashes ended up all over our vehicles and on the clothes on the clothes line as well.
I would not
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Wood ash has a lot of uses. Here are just a few suggestions.
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I put mine on the garden and in the chicken yard (keeps down the smell and insects) chickens will dust bathe in them too. They are better for icy walks and steps than salt, as they don't kill the grass or eat the cement like salt can. You do have to keep a rug at the door or take off your shoes at the door. Ashes and melted ice make for great tracks. Carry some in the trunk of your car in a milk jug. iI you get stuck or have to walk on ice you have your handy ashes. (09/28/2006)
When I have wood ashes I pour them on the soil where I will be planting radishes. No worms. Epsom salts works too. (09/28/2006)
I also put them on my vegetables in the garden to get rid of aphids, worked last year on collards and Swiss chard. (09/28/2006)
They used to make soap from animal fat and wood ash. Probably a stretch for 2006, but then there are worse hobbies, too. (11/17/2006)
By Dan - Iowa
I have used ashes and mayo on wood - it works great when you have a lot of wax buildup, but I would not try and use to for polishing. Note: make sure the ashes are free of debris, for that will only scratch the table. I sifted mine before using it to eliminate the problem. Also, scrub very gently when first applying; you can always scrub harder later. (12/02/2006)
If you want to mix it with your compost pile it will delay the decay reaction, but I mix it with some 10-10-10 first in a bucket with water to make sure there are no live embers. Mixing it with the fertilizer helps make a more potent compost. (11/01/2008)
Ashes can also be used as leavening for bread by putting the ash in a box, mixing plenty of water in and catching it in a pan below the box. This was a colonial method, but is still done in parts of the Appalachians and elsewhere in the world. Another way is just catching the wild yeast from the air of a room with the fireplace. This method is found on the internet by searching "wild yeast roundup".
Ash from coal especially has reflective properties that will melt ice and snow super fast if the sun is out. That is more cinders than just ash I guess.
I use it mostly to make walking safer and my path easier to see when I go out to milk the cows and check the greenhouse and chicken coop. Most of the time I am doing it in the dark on the way there in the morning and in the dark on the way back at night. Really helps a lot. (01/29/2009)
Fireplace ash (wood ash) can be safely added to most garden soils, with a few exceptions. Depending on the type of tree burned, wood ash varies in alkalinity and will act as a liming agent in the soil, raising the pH. This makes it a useful additive if you have acidic soil or compost heaps that you want neutralized. Root crops, bulbs, annuals and most perennials will find it beneficial. Tomatoes seem to love it. Because of its alkaline nature, you should avoid giving it to acidic loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas, cranberries or blueberries. It may also promote potato scab when applied to potatoes. Store fireplace ash safely in a metal garbage container and apply it to plants in the spring. Wood ash is easily absorbed into the soil so you only need 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch to dress flowerbeds. Wood ash from treated wood contains the residue from harmful chemicals and should not be used in the garden.
Other ways to use wood ash are as a slug repellent around plants, a glass cleaner (use on fireplace glass-rub with newspaper) or as a melting agent (provides traction on snow and ice). It's also used as a boiling agent to break down cellulose plant material when making homemade paper.
By Ellen Brown
I don't know about fireplace ashes on plants, but I do know its the absolute best for putting on icy sidewalks and stairs. Its also great for putting behind and in front of your car tires when the roads are icy or snowy to give you car more traction. (12/04/2000)
Wood ashes add potash to the soil. They also help to keep soft bodied insects off plants (aphids and such). This time of year I add them right to the garden soil. (12/04/2000)
By Stan - Michigan
Ashes can be used on walkways when they are slippery. Put some in a box and carry some in your car and it will give you traction when you are stuck on ice. (12/04/2000)
By D - Lancaster, PA
Here's a link that might be helpful to you: http://ruralwideweb.com/tufwashes.htm. There are about ten different uses for the ashes, most of which are applicable to those in rural areas. As a bit of advice, avoid putting fireplace ashes around roses or other plants that are acid-loving. If you mix the ashes with your regular compost (or bag of fertilizer) it will stretch the product and feed your plants as well! (01/29/2003)
By Pam Powers
When I work in my yard and burn leaves, tree limbs and any other wood trash you'll find in the yard, I let sit for about two days to cool (scattering thoroughly) then I put the ashes on my azaleas. They thrive on acid soil and this it the best I've found to make my garden do well. You can actually see the difference in the dark green leaves in about 3 days! (10/18/2005)
I always put them in my yard and not the trash, so I won't add to the landfill. (10/19/2005)