I am often asked: “Is wood ash good for the garden?”. So, today we’re going to answer that in this post.
If you have a wood stove or a fireplace at home, you likely spend much of the early spring shoveling out buckets of fireplace ashes. But don’t just throw those pounds of ashes away in a trash bag like they’re a waste product. You can actually use wood ash in your flower garden and vegetable garden. Want to find out how? Read on to find out the full value of wood ash!
What Are Wood Ashes
Wood ash is a byproduct of the combustion of wood in fireplaces, bonfires, and even in industrial power plants. It is a good source of many micronutrients. It is a good source of potassium and can have profound effects on your garden and your production of crops.
This powdery residue contains a certain percent potash, phosphate, and trace elements or small amounts of micro-nutrients including iron, manganese, boron, copper, and zinc. It also contains trace amounts of heavy metal concentrations lead, cadmium, nickel, and chromium.
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Uses of Wood Ash in the Garden
Because of its components, it makes for a useful soil amendment that can help improve the health of the plants in your garden. Here are some of the best ways to use wood ash:
1. Correcting Soil Acidity
Wood ash contains a good amount of calcium carbonate so it works as a great liming agent for acid soils. It is an excellent soil amendment that can help adjust the pH levels of highly acidic soils.
Be sure to apply wood ash before planting anything since it has a tendency to burn tender leaves of young garden plants.
2. Supercharging Your Compost Heap
Wood ash is an excellent addition to any compost pile. It can add minerals and nutrients that support the microbial environment in compost. Furthermore, the porous nature of wood ash adds much-needed oxygen that keeps microbes happy.
3. Deters Nuisance Animals
Adding a layer of wood ash can keep away animals like bears, mice, rats, and deer. It can also keep away snails and slugs that can wreak havoc in your garden.
However, you need only to apply a light layer of ash since it is extremely alkaline. You should also prevent it from getting too wet because it can lose its pest-deterrent capabilities.
4. Preventing Blossom End Rot
Some plants like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and peppers can be susceptible to blossom end rot. This is caused by insufficient calcium in the garden soil. Adding a layer of wood ash at the start of the growing season can supply additional calcium to these plants to make sure that they can grow healthy fruits.
5. Saving Plants from Frost Damage
If you live in an area that gets too cold in the winter, your plants may be susceptible to frost damage. To prevent this, apply a light layer of wood ash at the start of winter. The mineral salts present in wood ash can lower the freezing point of water without harming plant tissues.
The Best Wood Ash to Use in the Garden
It’s important for a good use of wood to be sure that it’s appropriate for your gardening needs. Choose a type of wood from trees grown in natural areas. Avoid using wood ash produced from trees grown near industrial sites or places that are exposed to toxins or heavy metals. Avoid using wood ash from wood that’s been treated or painted.
How to Apply Wood Ash
Land application of wood ash: Sift wood ash before using it in your garden. This helps remove large charcoal pieces and any active embers.
Applications of wood ash is as simple as mixing it directly in the soil. It is best applied in the spring before planting as well as in autumn. Make sure, however, to use the right amount. Use a maximum of 15 to 20 pounds per 1000 sq. ft., per year.
Use it to boost the potash content of the soil properties for root vegetables including carrots, parsnips, peas, and beans. You can also apply wood ash on top of the soil surface where fruit trees stand including apples, pears, plums, apricots, and cherries.
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Before applying tons of wood ash, make sure that you don’t already have a soil pH level of 7.5 or greater. You can do this by requesting a soil test here and sending in soil samples. You should also avoid using it around acid-loving plants like blueberries. It’s also not a good idea to apply it in areas where you will grow potatoes since the increases of soil alkalinity can encourage the growth of potato scab.
Wood ash is best applied dry. Exposure to water results in a sludgy material that won’t add any useful essential nutrients to the soil.
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