best use for ashes from garden burn pile

jollyrd(Richmond VA)August 10, 2012

We have accumulated a large pile of garden trash to burn - weeds, wood branches, cardboard. It's been piling up since early winter. Since it has been in the pile for a long time, I do not plan to take it apart or add to compost. I prefer to burn it as is. As soon as we burn it and they cool off, - what is a best use for those ashes? Should we mix the ashes in:

a) the compost pile

b) raised garden bed (we were going to spread seeds of compost crop for the fall)

c) spread/mix into flower bed soil

d) spread at the bottom of fruit trees

e) spread around grape vines

f) other?

In the past, the ashes would remain on the ground and get washed away by the rain.


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What is your current soil PH? Just how big of a pile are you talking about?

I know that the answer for me would not be A. I dusted a pile once (wasn't about to try again) when turning it in layers, and thought that it definitely hindered the process.

The amount of ash that you could spread would be somewhat related to the amount of liming that your soil needs. Check out the link at the bottom of this post. Also check out the Fruit forum here at gardenweb there are very helpful people there who will not see your post here.

The best use for the pile IMHO would be to just let it rot or compost it - if you gain anything from the ash it will be a small in comparison to what you could have gained. If there is enough room to burn the pile, perhaps there is enough room to let it be.

I have two large piles of brush on my property from the previous owner (who hired a hack to improve the property) within three years they have reduced by half (they are now the size of half a bus). Smaller piles that would have been the size of a refrigerator could now be raked apart to completely disappear in a couple of years - but why do that?- rotted wood is a prized compost ingredient.

I like a good burn too, but they do cost.

Best of Luck!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 4:48AM
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As noted in the Purdue article ash from a wood pile can be as much as 25 percent Calcium Carbonate, lime, so always test your soil to see if it needs that much CaCo3, but never add wood ash to a compost pile.
Be sure to check to see if you need a permit to burn that pile. Many places have bans on this because of the extremly dry conditions.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 7:20AM
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I've added as much as a quart or two of ash to a cubic yard compost pile with no ill effects. The composting process can neutralize a certain amount of lime, and the minerals (not only Ca but also K and P and many trace elements) will be incorporated into the compost.

Unless your soil is very alkaline, and you are in VA so I suspect not, you should be able to spread it far and wide on the lawn and gardens and not see any effect. But kimmsr's advice is spot on, you should know your pH first.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 1:17PM
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