One of the places wood ash is most versatile is in the garden. It is an excellent raw resource that has many benefits and uses.
Ash is the powdery residue that remains after burning wood .
If you don’t burn bricks for heating purposes, making an outdoor pile of dry wood and then burning it is all it takes to get your stack.
Below are the benefits of utilizing wood ash on the farm — practical ways of using it for plants, in soil, and for livestock.
1. Natural Fertilizer
Plants need a variety of essential nutrients to thrive and grow. Some of these can be found within wood ash .
Early spring is the best time to till your collection into the garden, preferably when the soil is dry and plant life has not started to grow.
To effectively use it as fertilizer, the secret is to till it in the soil well. If not, certain areas will have too much salt, and others not enough.
2. Add to Compost
A healthy compost pile is what gardeners look towards, and the addition of small amounts of ashes will make a marked difference in this garden staple.
The smell of it also becomes a deterrent to wildlife like bears who would otherwise consider the compost a free buffet.
Check the middle of the compost before adding it, and again a month later. You should find the center contains greater numbers of worms and insects working hard.
3. Lime Substitute
You can use it as a substitute for lime. Lime is used agriculturally for its nutrient value and to raise soil ph.
Instead of paying for lime at the farm supply store, make good use of your fireplace ashes instead. Besides, it is also good for your grass.
4. Slug Repellant
Insects like snails and slugs move around underground with greater ease when the soil contains more moisture.
When the slime and fluid that allows them to easily navigate surfaces absorb, it makes free movement difficult.
Ashes will soak up moisture when applied to a damp surface, so the theory is that slugs and snails will be repelled from plants and soil treated with it. They’ll have to look somewhere else for their next meal.
5. Raises Soil pH Levels
The magic happens thanks to the calcium carbonate in ash when wood burns, which neutralizes acidic soil. Also, this valuable nutrient works well to raise soil pH faster than other options, like limestone.
You will need to replenish after heavy rain.
6. Prevents Blossom End Rot
Blossom end rot occurs while fruits are still green or when ripening begins and often shows on crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and other fruit crops.
Plants with visible signs of it require higher levels of calcium to prevent the problem from recurring.
Mixing in some fire pit ashes after soil testing could be beneficial in this case as it contains calcium carbonate .
7. Prevent Frost Damage
Certain crops are not ready for harvest until the time is getting close for frost. Depending on the area you live in, early frosts may be a concern.
If you want to protect your plants and give them the additional time they need to mature, try applying a light dusting of the powdery residue over them.
The mineral salts in this remedy help lower the freezing point without causing additional 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 only way of keeping clean, meaning they also require dust.
You can easily make a bathing box for your chickens and set it inside the coop, or outside from the rain. Use either sand or soil and mix in some of this substance.
It will also deter parasites like lice, fleas, and mites.
9. Freshen Up Chicken Coop
Since it is alkaline, when sprinkled throughout a chicken coop it assists in neutralizing poop odors. The same principle applies to baking soda when you use it around the home or to keep odors out of refrigerators.
This powdery residue also keeps away many parasites that could otherwise be a nuisance in the chicken coop.
10. Ant Repellant
Many persons are looking for non-toxic ways to get rid of ants from their gardens and homes. Hardwood ash can help.
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 into their food. Only a small amount is needed — 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.
Plants That Like Wood Ashes
Some plants thrive with the extra nutrients to the soil, while others do not do well when the ph. of the soil is too high.
Crops like artichokes, cauliflower, chives, and greens like arugula, spinach, lettuce, and collards do well with garden ashes.
However, acid-loving plants such as strawberries, radishes, rhubarb, blueberries, onions, potatoes, peppers, and parsley will not thank you for your efforts.
When it comes to stunning flower gardens, especially those planted for bees, here are some plants that would not mind a helping hand:
- Maltese Cross
- Lenten Rose
- Wild Red Columbine
- Jacob’s Ladder
- Black-eyed Susan
- Italian Bugloss
- Bearded Iris
- Autumn Joy
Plants are unable to flourish without certain minerals. When mineral deficiencies exist, plants suffer.
Common signs that your plants are mineral deficient include yellowing and curling of the leaves, stunted growth, and eventual death.
Before adding it to plants or the surrounding soil, purchase an inexpensive soil test kit and check the ph.
Do not use it on rhododendrons, marigolds, nasturtiums, azaleas, and other flowers that thrive well in acidic soil.
Essential Nutrients it Contains
Most people would be surprised to learn just how many nutrients are contained within wood ash .
Far from being a waste product that needs disposal, it has true value around the home and garden.
When referring to plants, ashes contain four important and needed minerals:
Some soils naturally lack these minerals in abundance, while others need fortification.
Calcium compounds account for a good portion of fire ash. Also found in it are minerals like potassium, sodium, magnesium, aluminum, and phosphorus.
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. Areas that have consistently nitrogen-poor soil, a specialty supplement, or fertilizer could be needed.
Even though this substance is rich in many trace and secondary minerals, geography plays a large part in determining which nutrients your particular type contains.
This powdery residue makes a great addition to your farming and gardening endeavors. However, the type of wood matters, as softwoods do not produce as much of it as hardwoods.
Find a storage spot to keep your firewood ash dry during the winter so there is no nutrient loss. By the time spring arrives, you should have a decent supply set aside to use in and around the garden area.