wood ashes in the garden or compost

carress(z6 NY)April 16, 2009

I've read that ashes are fine, but only in small amounts...

WHAT is a small amount? 1:100, a cup in a garden, 10 gallons in a compost pile...what?

are pellet stove ashes any different from other wood ash?

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wood ashes don't need to be composted becasuse ther is no living thing in it. so then you just put it in the garden.
if you put too much, it can get muddy like. so work it into soil. There is no "too much wood ash". since it will not harm anything. but it can make your soil more alkaline.
Wood ash is the best organic source of POTASIUM(potash).,
wich is good for plants root system. That is why it is very good for potatoes.

After all, You cannot have too much wood ash. You have to burn tones of wood to get couple of buckets full.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 10:31PM
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I am not sure but I know I added too much this last winter. I dumped my entire collection from about 8 fires into my Earth Machine and it is now a soggy mess. I am trying to add more leaves and the usual fruit/vegetable scraps to see if I can salvage this mess.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 10:35PM
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I have read that it's safe to use about a cupful of wood ashes on a compost pile. That's very little tho so might as well forget it if you are trying to use up a lot of ashes. Some people also sprinkle a few on grassy areas but it depends on the pH of your soil whether this helps or hurts.

I have to disagree about using wood ashes for potatoes. That is one place one should not use ashes as an alkaline soil promotes scab. Potatoes grown on slightly acidic soil are less likely to have scab.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 11:10PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was said "You cannot have too much wood ash."

I'm sorry, but how much wood ash can be used definitely depends upon one's soil. All university guidelines I've seen caution about using excess.

Hereabouts, it's suggested one use half the amount you would if it were lime.

Further, potatoes will have problems -- scab -- if pH is elevated.

Oh yes. Please, no wood ash in the compost. It "upsets" the conditions the microbes require.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 2:08AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree with Jean - just as with lime you most definitely CAN use too much wood ash. It can easily make the soil alkaline.

As with lime, one of the most commonly seen recommendations is no more than 1 lb. per 100 sq.' - and only after you do a soil test to determine your soil pH. Screw up the pH and you screw up all the available nutrients in the soil.

It may be a source of potassium but the damage done to the soil pH outweighs any gain IMO. There are better sources of potassium available that don't affect the pH.

Compost piles revert to neutral all on their own and wood ash added to compost in any large amount only complicates the pile process - stockpile the wood ash somewhere all on its own if you wish abd use it in moderate amounts if needed and if you know for sure that you have very acidic soil.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 11:08AM
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Wood ash is 25 percent calcium carbonate, the stuff that helps raise a soils pH, so what your soils pH is should determine how much, if any, you use. Raising a soils pH too much inhibits the uptake of esential nutrients and because of that CACO3 it adversly affects what happens in the compost pile and is not anything that needs to be added to compost.

Here is a link that might be useful: About wood ash

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 11:36AM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

Experience from the trenches:

A few years back I got a woodstove and I was going a lot of hot composting. I'd mix leaves/grass/sawdust and put about a gallon or so of ashes in a cubic yard of material. That was too much. How did I know? The ammonia coming off those piles was prodigious. The high pH created by the ash caused nitrogen to be given off as gaseous ammonia. I quit doing it and now my 5 gal. of ash a week goes into the landfill. The garden is already at pH 7 so I can't put it there.

In the olden days they'd make a big hopper and filter water real slow through the ash and get concentrated lye solution out the bottom. That and some tallow and you could make a halfway decent soap. I've thought of actually doing this, because the ash would then be devoid of its alkalinity and safe for the garden. Haven't got around tuit.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 5:46PM
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