lets talk wood ashes. . .

babera(5a (Montana))April 17, 2014

Hi, I have a 50 gallon barrel full of wood ashes from the stove in the garage. Hubby wants to get rid of them, I want to try to use them. I did some research and came up needing a degree in science in order to do it right. . .

What are the pros/cons. . . what to avoid. . . what to set the spreader on. . . I did a kit test on my soil, all three were in the green zone, meaning no amendments needed. . . is it good for flower beds or just the lawn?
Thanks for the help. . .

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lazy_gardens

You say you did a "KIT TEST". It says you don't need amendments, so why are you asking how to spread amendments?

The pros - wood ashes are a good way to lower raise pH and add minerals (varies according to what kind of wood you burned).

The cons - wood ashes will lower raise the pH and you might not need it lowersd raised, and unless you have a chemical analysis done on the ashes you have no clue what you are adding.

DUH: brain fart on the direction they push the pH.

This post was edited by lazygardens on Fri, Apr 18, 14 at 12:52

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 11:05PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Uh oh. Let's correct that.

wood ashes are a good way to *increase* pH.

So what is the native pH of the soil in your region?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 11:24PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Wood ashes plus water equal lye, a caustic chemical. Wood Ashes in soil will raise that soils pH, quickly but for a short time. Montana State University no longer does soil testing for the home gardener, but does have a list of commercial labs that will do that.
I would not use those wood ashes in the garden, but maybe they could be spread on the lawn if done with care. There is no spreader that will do that, however, although a drop spreader would be a better choice then a broadcast spreader if only so you are not covered with ashes.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 7:07AM
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Slimy_Okra(2b)

Dry parts of the western US and Canada generally have alkaline soil, where application of wood ashes is strongly discouraged. I'm not sure what your soil pH is where you live, but I would wager that it is above 7.0. Don't apply wood ashes to a soil that has a pH of 6.5 or above.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:26AM
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babera(5a (Montana))

OK. . . that's what I wanted to know. . . my sweet hubby wins this battle. . . thanks for all the advice. . .

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 12:29PM
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lazy_gardens

wood ashes are a good way to *increase* pH. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 12:55PM
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mckenziek(9CA)

I was just reading about this today. Wood ash has a lot of calcium and potassium and many trace nutrients. As already mentioned several times, it will raise the pH of almost any soil. So if your pH is low and you need potassium and/or calcium I guess you can add it.

The sources I found mentioned quantities like 10 or 20 lbs per 1000 square feet.

I have about as much ash as you. I will probably spread it over a very large field area before a rain. Where I live, rain is basically done until the fall.

--McKenzie

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 3:56AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

How much wood ash to apply depends on what type of soil you have and what the needs of that soil are. Purdue has an article about wood ash that says 20 pounds per 100 square feet probably won't adversely affect a soil with a pH below 6.0, however, sources that recommend a set amount without knowing the soil pH are not very reliable sources of information.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 7:10AM
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mckenziek(9CA)

I think it is established that the OP is not going to add any ash. So there is no basis to make a specific recommendation.

I Just wanted to give a rough idea of how much you would add, if you were to add. My apologies.

--McKenzie

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 11:28PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

I come back two years later, just to find out "Terrets" is still at it. Anyone who would imply that one "might try" liming an alkaline soil is a real Knucklehead, as it may take YEARS for anything to grow there again.

(Purdue doesn't make ANY claim that an alkaline soil will quickly leach out inorganic salts, such as wood ashes)... Happy Easter, Kimmy. M

This post was edited by Mackel-in-DFW on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 1:14

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 12:47AM
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toxcrusadr

I really don't know what the previous post is about, I don't see anything in this thread recommending adding it to alkaline soil.

Often these threads are searched and found by others asking the same question, so it does help to include some general info about the question.

I have tried to spread ashes with a Scotts drop spreader but they are so fine they get compacted in the mechanism after a few minutes and don't dispense well. I've been trying to figure out a better way, like a towable drum with small holes that would dispense a small amount evenly.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 1:28PM
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david52_gw

A windy day and just heave 'em as high as you can.

/works for me :-)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:13PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

Sir Toxalot-

Michigan acidic soil guy to Montana alkaline soil gal, re: wood ashes-

" maybe they could be spread on the lawn if done with care". There is no maybe, Tox, if you care about this woman's front yard.

Michigan guy, who is a Master Gardener, addresses causticity. Texas guy, who is a biologist, Master Debater (and Cunning Linguist) addresses soil properties (west of the Mississippi River).and liming.

Missouri guy who might have struggled with reading comprehension earlier in life, maybe needs to hook up with Texas guy next Mardi Gras, somewhere near Bourbon Street, and discuss the meaning of what "is" is.

Glad to know you're still around, T. M

This post was edited by Mackel-in-DFW on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 15:49

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:33PM
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toxcrusadr

There is abundant discussion in this thread about knowing pH first. I interpreted 'with care' to mean exactly that. He and I don't always agree but he is certainly knowledgeable of pH issues.

You, however, are adding little except rudeness.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:06PM
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david52_gw

This is a subject upon which I generally chime in. I live on alkaline soils - pH 7.5. I burn 8 cords of wood every year, and I throw the ash all over the place. As did the person I bought the place from. For years, the only noticeable effect is the grass greens up earlier in the year.

However, if you put down a 2 inch deep layer of ash on shallow soil with sandstone 4 inches down, you'll kill the grass. It grows back by the end of summer.

I have very well draining soil and lots of irrigation water, so YMMV.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:24PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

Yeah, you're right, nothing really to add. LOL. Sayanora, Tox. M

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:40PM
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Slimy_Okra(2b)

I guess the impact would also depend on how well-buffered the soil is, but buffering works both ways. I moved to a new place with very well-buffered, high OM clay loam with a pH of around 7.2. Good soil for planting except that the previous owner dumped ashes on it all over the place and raised the pH to 8.3. Now I've broken the bank in sulfur and iron sulfate to get the pH back down. Unfortunately it just happened to be the only good spot for a garden as it was sunny and near an irrigation source.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:30PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

Many of the regulars here on this forum put their ego far and above other peoples' time, money, efforts, and dreams of a beautiful garden. It's a friggin' cult-like atmosphere at times, and often the main prostheletyzers (you know who I'm talking about) seem to care little whether dozens of lurkers misinterpret their assinine discussions, and right-out fraudulent advice on "dirt".

When you point out how narcissistic people can be on an anonymous discussion board, always having to interject with their goofy, personalized, anecdotal advice, the guilty, or the guilty's confederates, will sometimes freak out. They simply don't want to be exposed for the "rude person" they are by not attempting to control their non-stop, low-value lip service.

These types of folks seem to have different needs than others, and ought to be schooled, whenever and wherever they cause, or potentially cause, other less-aquainted folks unnecessary troubles, and often, very real heartache and pain (in the form of wasted time, money, efforts; and dreams....), M.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 7:25PM
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