8 uses for ash in the orchard or garden

If you have a wood burning stove or a fireplace, during the cold months you will need to clean up the ashes frequently. Before long, you will accumulate a few buckets of ashes per week.

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What to do with all those ashes?

Let’s try to make good use of this dusty gray byproduct.

Ashes and pieces of charcoal are full of minerals. Additionally, its natural alkalinity and slightly abrasive texture mean that wood ash has many uses around the home, garden or orchard.

It is important to note that this list assumes that clean wood is burned and not chemically treated wood, such as painted.

Hardwoods generally contain more nutrients than softer woods like pine, but softwoods produce softer ash than hardwoods.

Coals can stay hot for days. Make sure the wood ash is completely cold before using it in your home.

A good tip to start with: wear gloves when working with wood ash.

Uses of wood ash in the garden.

Wood ash is enriched with many of the minerals it contained when it was a tree: calcium, potassium, magnesium and other trace minerals, to name a few.

Keep in mind that if left out in the rain, it will quickly lose all of its beneficial water-soluble minerals. So keep the ashes well.

Keep in mind not to use wood ash for plants that prefer acidic soil, such as potatoes, blueberries, hydrangeas, or azaleas.

Uses of wood ash in the garden.

  1. Correct soil acidity. You can use the ashes to help balance the pH of acidic soils. It’s best to test the pH of your soil first before applying, but in general for every 10 square meters apply between 2 and 4 kg of ash. The best time to do this is before planting, when you can put it directly into the ground. If you apply wood ash to soil with young growing plants, be sure to rinse them off afterwards, as the ash can burn the young leaves.
  2. Improve your compost. Ash can increase the microbial environment of your compost, it provides your compost with much needed oxygen, which makes the microbes very happy. The porous nature of charcoal also means that all of those minerals in the ash are absorbed and retained in your compost, rather than lost in the rain.
  3. Stop snails and slugs. Snails and slugs can wreak havoc in a garden. You can stop them by making a circle of ash around plants susceptible to snails and slugs.
  4. Eliminate fruit rot. Seeing that first black spot on your tomatoes is enough to make anyone cry, because you know it’s just the beginning. Avoid it early in the season by giving the plants an extra dose of calcium. When planting tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peppers, sprinkle a small handful of wood ash in the hole before planting the plant in the ground.
  5. Removing algae from standing water. When it comes to using ashes in a water basin, a little is enough. You can use about one tablespoon per 4,000 liters of water. If you are unsure of your water volume, be careful; start small and wait a few days before adding more ashes.
  6. Prevents crops from being damaged by frost. When temperatures begin to drop in the fall, the threat of frost begins. You can dust your plants with a little powdered wood ash to prevent frost damage.
  7. Save the seeds for next year. Seeds that are not properly stored lose their viability and do not germinate. Storing seeds in a good insulating medium that absorbs moisture is essential. Add ashes to the container you store the seeds in to reduce humidity and protect them.
  8. Encourages ants to move. Throwing ashes into an anthill will inspire them to pack up and find another place to live.

Share in the comments the uses you give to ashes in your orchard or garden.

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