One of the places wood ash is most versatile is in the garden. Commonly used as a soil amendment, it contains calcium, potassium, and other minor nutrients.
Ash is the powdery substance that remains after burning wood . If you don’t have a fireplace, gathering an outdoor pile of dry wood and burning it is all it takes to make wood ash.
Below are the benefits of using wood ash in the garden — for plants, soil, and livestock.
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, add 10-15 pounds of ashes per 1,000 square feet of soil.
Wood ash is good for asparagus, leeks, and beet. Tomatoes, roses, and fruit trees will also benefit because of the potash it contains.
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 to it.
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 the ashes, 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 fireplace ash as a substitute for lime. Lime is used agriculturally to raise soil ph.
Instead of paying for garden lime at the farm store, make good use of your fireplace ashes instead. It is good for your garden, trees, and 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 is absorbed, it makes 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. The magic happens, thanks to the calcium ash contains, which raises soil pH. However, 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, squash, and peppers.
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. Prevent 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 and set 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, 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.
Wood ash also keeps 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.
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. 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.
When referring to plants, ashes contain four important and needed minerals:
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. In areas that have consistently nitrogen-poor soil, a specialty supplement or fertilizer could be needed.
Plants That Like Wood Ashes
Vegetables like artichokes, cauliflower, chives, and greens like arugula, spinach, lettuce, and collards do well with garden ashes. However, strawberries, carrots, blueberries, onions, potatoes, and peppers will not thank you for your efforts because they thrive best in mildly acidic soil.
When it comes to flower gardens, especially those planted for bees, some flowering plants that benefit from ashes include lavender, hydrangeas, peonies, and roses.
However, before adding wood ash to plants or the surrounding soil, purchase an inexpensive soil test kit and check the ph. Firewood ash is not good for rhododendrons, marigolds, nasturtiums, and azaleas as these are plants that prefer acidic soil.
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.