If you burn firewood, wood ash is a good source of approximately 5% potassium, a considerable amount of lime, magnesium, calcium and other trace elements important for good plant health.
That’s not all. Fire wood ash has other uses around the home and garden.
Always do a soil P.H. test before applying wood ash directly to the garden. Vegetables grow well in a soil P.H. range of about 6.5, whereas most garden plants as well as lawns prefer a P.H. range of 6.0-6.5.
Use eye protection, gloves and a dust mask before working with wood ash.
Firewood ash from a fireplace or wood burning stove may appear to be burnt out but can actually smoulder for days even weeks.
Always use a metal container to contain firwood ash when cleaning out a woodstove or fireplace. Place the container on dirt or concrete at least a few feet away from anything combustible. Always allow the ashes to remain outside in a metal container out of the rain for a few days to a week before use.
When wood ash gets wet it leaches lye and salts. Not harmful to plants in small quantities but can burn plants otherwise.
If applying directly to the garden, mix with the top soil before planting.
About Wood Ash
Compared to limestone which takes about 6 months to raise the P.H. in soil, thus reducing the acidity, wood ash works it’s magic much more rapidly.
Since wood ash will raise the P.H., lowering the acidity, be selective where the wood ash is directly applied, avoiding acid loving plants.
Each cord of firewood can create 20 pounds of ashes or more. 1/2 to 1 pound of wood ash per year is recommended be applied per shrub or rose bush.
Additionally, wood ash application can be doubled by weight to that of limestone.
20 pounds or one 5 gallon pail of wood ash per 1,000 sq.ft. can be applied to a soil already in the desired P.H. range without lowering the P.H. too drastically.
Different types of firewood ash provide different nutrient content.
Nutrient content of hardwoods such as maple and oak are much higher than the nutrient content of softwoods such as fir and pine.
A preferred and perhaps more convenient method of using wood ash for garden use is to compost prior to applying to soil. This gives time for the lye and salts to leach away.
Home and Garden Uses for Wood Ash:
Other surprising uses for wood ash can include oil spill clean up.
Control slugs and snails. The salt in wood ash can kill slugs and snails thus repels them.
Outline your snail loving plants with a sprinkle of wood ash around the base of the plant. If it rains or the ashes get wet, they will need to be re-applied.
Use to melt ice in winter. Use on roadways, walkways, slippery steps. Pet safe! Amend lawn and garden soil.
Wood ash can raise the P.H. as much as 7.5 which is helpful for controlling some diseases such as club root.
Wood ash usefulness isn’t limited to the garden. Wood ash applied to a dampened cloth makes the best window cleaner going! Perfect for metal cleaning as well as wood floors. Wear gloves!