If you have a fireplace or a wood-burning stove, then you know about shovelling out ashes. If you’re into recycling, you probably want a better way to get rid of those ashes than a trash bag.
Unlike the decomposed remains of stems, leaves, and other green plant parts, burned wood contains no nitrogen. But it does provide boron, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, and other elements that plants need.
Wood ash is also useful for increasing the pH in garden soil. You’ll need about twice as much of it as lime, but wood ash will also allow your soil added nutrients!
Using Wood Ash in Your Garden
The first thing you need to do is to get a soil test done. If your yard or garden soil has a pH of 7.0 or higher, give the ashes to a friend with a more acidic soil. You don’t need wood ash to amend your soil.
Don’t use wood ash around acid-loving plants such as blueberries, holly, rhododendrons, and azaleas. You should not use wood ash on potatoes, as well.
Below are a some excellent ways to use wood ash in your garden.
Sprinkle Wood Ash on Your Lawn
You can sprinkle some wood ash on your lawn. A light sprinkling of wood ash followed by a good watering will be good for the grass.
The ash will also encourage the growth of clover in your lawn, an attractive soil-improver that provides nectar for the bees.
Use Wood Ash on Your Tomato Patch
Put five pounds of ashes in a burlap bag, tie it shut, and lower the bag into a 50-gallon garbage can filled with water. Let the bag sit in the water for about four days, then dip the water out with a watering can.
Pour a cupful around your tomato plants once a week, as soon as the plants begin to flower. Most crops can use a potassium increase. This is especially true of tomatoes.
Spread Ashes around Hardwood Trees
Spread wood ash around the base of hardwood trees. By so doing, you return this valuable product to its source and nourish the natural cycle of soil fertility. Apple trees, in particular, love this treatment.
Not everyone has an orchard, a woodlot, or a wood-burning stove. But even a bit of wood ash from the occasional fire makes a good treat for a favorite tree, says Adrian Higgins for the Washington Post.
Use Wood Ash as Slug Repellent
Slugs will feed on any tender plant. They have file-like mouthparts that tear large ragged holes in young leaves.
Sprinkled lightly around susceptible plants, wood ashes will irritate garden slug’s moist bodies and repel them. The repellent effect will disappear after rain or irrigation dissolves the ashes, says Margaret Boyles for the Old Farmer’s Alamanac.
If you intend to use wood ash in your garden, be vigilant and use common sense. You need to store the ash in a covered metal container. Set the container on dirt or concrete a few feet in all directions from any combustible surface.
Even though the ashes may appear cold, buried embers may remain live for days – sometimes even weeks!
Do you know any other ways to use wood ash in the garden? Don’t hesitate to share. We’d love to hear from you!