Dre Campbell Farm
Wood Ash in Garden: 11 Practical Uses

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11 Wood Ash Garden Benefits and Uses

One of the places wood ash is useful is in the garden. Commonly used as a soil amendment, it is a good source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Ash is the powdery substance that remains after burning wood [1]. If you don’t have a fireplace, burning an outdoor pile of dry wood is all it takes to make wood ash.

Below are some benefits of using wood ashes in the garden — for plants, soil, and more.

1. Natural Fertilizer

Plants need a variety of essential nutrients to thrive. Some of these can be found within ashes.

To effectively use wood ash as fertilizer, apply 10-15 pounds per 1,000 square feet of soil. Ashes are good for asparagus, leeks, beets, tomatoes, roses, and fruit trees.

2. Add to Compost

A healthy compost pile is what gardeners look towards, and the addition of small amounts of ashes will help to maintain the neutral condition of the compost.

The smell of ashes also becomes a deterrent to wildlife like bears who would otherwise consider the compost a free buffet.

Also, check the middle of the compost before adding ashes, and again a month later. You should find the center contains greater numbers of worms and insects working hard.

3. Garden Lime Substitute

You can use fireplace ash as a substitute for agricultural lime. Garden lime is used agriculturally to raise soil pH. Therefore, make good use of your fireplace ashes instead of paying for aglime at the farm store.

4. Slug Repellant

Slugs and snails move around with greater ease when the soil is wet. Dry surfaces make free movement difficult.

Ashes will soak up moisture when applied to a damp surface. So, the theory is, slugs and snails will be repelled from plants and soil treated with wood ash.

5. Raises Soil pH Levels

Another benefit of using wood ash for plants is that it raises soil pH. This happens, thanks to the calcium ash contains, which raises soil pH [2]. However, you will need to replenish after heavy rain.

6. May Prevent Blossom End Rot

Plants with visible signs of blossom end rot require higher levels of calcium to prevent the problem from recurring. Therefore, mixing in some fire pit ashes after soil testing could be beneficial in this case as it contains calcium.

7. Prevents Frost Damage

To protect your plants from frost damage, try applying a light dusting of wood ash over them. The mineral salts it contains help lower the freezing point of water without causing damage to the plant’s tissues.

8. Dust-Bathe Chickens

Anyone with chickens knows just how much they enjoy taking a bath in the dust. It is their main way of keeping clean.

Therefore, make a bathing box for your chickens, putting it inside the coop or outside from the rain. Use either sand or soil and mix in some burnt ash.

Wood ash will also deter parasites like lice, fleas, and mites.

9. Freshen Up Chicken Coop

Since wood ash is alkaline, it assists in neutralizing poop odors when sprinkled throughout a chicken coop. The same principle applies to baking soda when you use it around the home or to keep odors out of refrigerators.

Fire ashes also keep away many parasites that could otherwise be a nuisance in the chicken coop and on the farm.

10. Ant Repellant

Many people are looking for non-toxic ways to get rid of ants from their gardens and homes. Hardwood ash can help.

Therefore, place a thick layer over the opening to ant hills in your yard and garden and near cracks they use to enter the house. Check daily to make sure the holes are still covered. If not, simply reapply.

The ants will get tired of digging out their hole daily and will move on to easier quarters.

11. Chicken Feed Supplement

A free and natural way to give your chickens more calcium and potassium is to add ashes to their food. You’ll only need a small amount — less than a 1% ratio.

By doing this, it is possible that manure smells may also be reduced, and that a hen’s laying capabilities are extended longer than normal.

You can also add small amounts of charcoal into chicken waterers. Not only will it filter the water and reduce odors, but it will also absorb toxins.

12. Repels Cucumber Beetles

Make a spray by combining a handful of fire ash in a gallon of water. Use it to spray your cucumbers and other cucurbits to keep cucumber beetles away.

Essential Nutrients Wood Ash Contains

Most people would be surprised to learn just how many nutrients are contained within wood stove ashes. Far from being a waste product that needs disposal, it has true value around the home and garden.

Ashes contain four important minerals that plants need:

  • Phosphorous
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

Some soils naturally lack these minerals in abundance, while others need fortification.

Also found in wood ashes are minerals like sodium and magnesium. In much smaller amounts you will also find copper, boron, sulfur, zinc, and molybdenum.

While it seems to have a bit of everything, one item it lacks is nitrogen. Therefore, in areas with nitrogen-poor soil, add a specialty supplement or fertilizer containing nitrogen.

Plants That Grow in Ashy Soil 

Vegetables like artichokes, cauliflower, chives, arugula, spinach, lettuce, and collards do well with garden ashes. When it comes to flower gardens, flowering plants that like wood ashes include lavender, hydrangeas, peonies, and roses.

However, do not use it on crops like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, raspberries, and blueberries. Firewood ash is also not good for rhododendrons, marigolds, nasturtiums, and azaleas as these are plants that prefer acidic soil.

Therefore, before adding wood ash to plants or the surrounding soil, purchase a soil test kit and test the pH of your soil.

Takeaway

Now that you know what to do with wood ash, find a storage spot to keep it dry during the winter. By the time spring arrives, you should have a decent supply set aside to use in the garden and on your lawn.

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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