saving wood ash

lucyfretwell(ireland)January 9, 2014

What is a good way of keeping (a lot of )wood ash usable?

I don't want to buy a container and would prefer to keep them outside . as I have seen suggested.

But they will inevitably get damp if I dig them into a hole in the ground and cover them.

Will a bit of dampness matter so long as they are not subjected to direct rain- or will I have to ensure they remain powdery dry for when I want to apply them in the spring ?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is more difficult to spread when damp. Covered in a hole probably you won't lose a lot of the nutrients, and the edges will get clumpy while the inner part will stay dry - if it's well covered. If you garden area is small you can simply spread the ash at planting time by mixing it in water and pouring into the rows.

I keep mine in those galvanized metal trashcans. You can probably find a container free at recycling center, I would think.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If the wood ash gets wet, it will slowly release leachate to the surrounding soil, and the leachate will be very alkaline. The advantage of storing and applying wet ashes, as opposed to dry ashes, is that there will be little or no dust generated, so one could argue that keeping them wet is a good thing. I would not put down ashes on our garden, because the soil here in Madison, Wisconsin, is already high in pH, around 7.6, and ashes would raise the pH even higher.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Wood ash is an excellent source of potassium and other nutrients/elements. So if your soil pH is under 7, you can use it safely and benefit from it.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 10:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Natures_Nature(5 OH)

I use any metal container with a lid. I never really apply a lot at a time, Just a light dusting on the entire garden. I just carry the tin can, walk the garden, throwing a thin dusting by hand.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 10:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Before your do this, are you sure they will be good for the soil? Have you had a soil test that indicates the ash will make up for a deficit?

(I ask because it's an unquestioned assumption that all soils can benefit from wood ash, and they don't.)

If you store them in a pile or pit they will leach out into the surrounding dirt and make a very alkaline dead spot.

And they will solidify and turn into clumps.

Why don't you want to apply them as soon as you clean the fireplace or stove - work your way around the garden with the application, one small area at a time.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

thanks for all the replies.
@lazygardens I thought if I applied it now that it would leach away with the heavy rain we get and that by the time growth started it would have sunk below root level.

I always throw them around the base of the fruit plants I have -like the currants and the apples.

I never considered I could be overdoing it.To tell the truth I have never noticed any benefit from the practice seeing as I don't get around to treating them all -I cannot tell which ones have been treated from which haven't. .

But it is such an accepted advice to throw the wood ash around the base of fruit trees that I do it practically automatically .

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There is a good chance that you have typical soil for Ireland, and that you can find out more about the native soil by visiting an appropriate web site, such as a university soil test lab. There are soils that benefit from applications of wood ash, and soils that are already high in pH, and will likely not benefit.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 8:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

If you're sprinkling and not dumping, it may not change the pH much at all. The alkaline part will dissolve and leach away rather fast, leaving insoluble minerals behind. Some useful minerals like P will stay around longer - P tends to bind to the soil. So putting it on in the winter is not a bad thing, it gives a chance for rain and snow to leach out the alkali.

People have sprinkled ash for centuries, so as long as you do it in moderation, it's probably just fine. It is good to know about your soil conditions though - if your pH was already high or you had excessive phosphorus, cutting out the ash would actually be a positive.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 11:02AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Is non-organic compost OK?
Hello, I am wondering if buying compost from a small,...
Lawn fertilizer to increase nitrogen in flower beds?
For several years now my lawn and beds have been fed...
Animal Bedding Pellets for mulch?
I use white pine bedding pellets in my horse's stall....
Hate new GW
I hate the new Garden Web! I cannot figure it out!
Compost is wet and soggy. Can I use it? It's not done yet..
Hi there. My first compost is almost a year old now....
Mikkel Nielsen
Sponsored Products
Suede Black 42-Inch x 84-Inch Blackout Window Curtain Panel
$20.95 | Bellacor
Into the Sunset Convertible Lounge Chair
$449.99 | Dot & Bo
Novello Wall Sconce by Eurofase
$356.00 | Lumens
Boxwood Energy Star White Finish One Light Outdoor Hanging Pendant with Frosted
$59.99 | Bellacor
Set of Two 12-in. Extensions
$15.50 | FRONTGATE
Pilot Office Chair in Black
$99.00 | LexMod
Good Ideas Rain Wizard 300 Gallon Rain Barrel - RW300-KHA
$587.89 | Hayneedle
Ryli Oval Chandelier/Flushmount by Eurofase
$848.00 | Lumens
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™