Wood Ash Use in the Garden

As my regular readers know we have had a bad ice storm and then a very strong wind storm, I have so many small, med and even huge limbs or tree’s down between the two storm.  I have been doing a fair amount of burning but its been a mix of all kinds of yard -garden stuff.  I cleaned out the burn pit (which is a hot water tank cut in half, waste not, want not 🙂 and I did burning for two days of hard and soft wood for very clean ash and small charcoal bits for garden use.

Wood ashes contain potassium, some phosphorus and magnesium. Nutritional value varies according to the species of wood, according to Dr. Gary F. Griffin, an agronomist with the University of Connecticut Extension Service (6/6/81).

For example, ashes from such hardwoods as maple, elm, oak and beech contain a third more calcium plus more potash than the ashes from softwoods.

Phosphorus content usually ranges between 0.8 and 3 per cent, potassium from 2.8 to 8.6 per cent, calcium from 14 to 28 per cent, magnesium from 0.8 to 2.8 per cent and sulfur from 0.3 to 0.5 per cent.  Poor man’s lime to a point but its frugal. I can’t make lime on the farm the same way I can make a very clean wood ash

Due to the lightweight of dry ashes and their total neutralizing power, it would take a considerable amount of ash to make the soil too alkaline for good crop production.  I have always been told 1/4th inch to 1/2 inch of ash in regards to thickness for spreading.. think of it as a light dusting.

The ash must have been kept dry before use otherwise the water or rain will have leached a lot from it. I wanted this ash to sweeten my tomato growing areas for this year.

The addition of ash did confer some benefits—those plants were larger and grew fruit with significantly higher magnesium and potassium content.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/news-blog/p-is-for-plants-human-urine-plus-as-2009-09-04/

I did a light spreading of my ash and then worked it in well into the soil itself.. There will be close to a two week rest between applying, tilling in and turning the cover crop under before the tomato’s and peppers will be planted out.

Do you use wood ash in your garden?

Readers Comments- I wanted to share this advice that came in on the comment section.

I do on occasion toss it in my garden beds – but the main use on my farm is as an anti-slip on ice. When we get that freeze/melt/freeze thing going – the horses and the cows tend to be very nervous – they know they have poor footing in some areas. I just spread it on their regular paths and feeding areas. A friend had an issue last year – her cows wouldn’t come in from the field – in their heads they were trapped surrounded by ice – and it was all white. I told her to make them a ‘road’ using ashes. Not only were they happy not to slip on it, they could ‘see’ the road. Worked well.

Check out her blog 🙂 Amazing Writer..

https://bjerkesbonelesschickenranch.wordpress.com/

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10 Responses to Wood Ash Use in the Garden

  1. I have avoided using wood ash in my garden because I have heard it is bad for potatoes. However, my mom gave me a couple of buckets of her compost ( well rotted horse manure. kitchen waste & wood ash) that I spread on a new bed I dug out. I’m excited to see how this will work out cause I’ve got wood ash to spare and would like to find a good way to re-use it,

    • Hi Crafty, I have read and heard the same thing, never add directly to the soil spot the year that you are planning on putting in potato’s in.. but I have heard no warnings in regards to using it in the compost and then using the mixed aged compost on the potato area’s, I have done that for years and had very good yields, and as I am on a three to four year garden rotation.. The area that I have wood ashed which will go tomato and pepper this year will not have potato’s in it for another three years., as that will go root veggies next year and corn-squash etc, the year after. I have never had any ill effects over the many gardens and years I have been doing so. I never am heavy handed with it, I never plant directly into the soil after its added in and mixed in until its rained or been well watered and aged at least a week.

  2. valbjerke says:

    I do on occasion toss it in my garden beds – but the main use on my farm is as an anti-slip on ice. When we get that freeze/melt/freeze thing going – the horses and the cows tend to be very nervous – they know they have poor footing in some areas. I just spread it on their regular paths and feeding areas. A friend had an issue last year – her cows wouldn’t come in from the field – in their heads they were trapped surrounded by ice – and it was all white. I told her to make them a ‘road’ using ashes. Not only were they happy not to slip on it, they could ‘see’ the road. Worked well.

  3. mariazannini says:

    I use my wood ash in the garden and in my compost piles. We rarely get cold enough for ice, but that’s good to know should we ever have a freak ice storm. It happens every decade or so.

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