I just read an article about applying ashes in the garden, sounds like a good deal to me considering how my soil is acidic anyway.
anyone got any success stories or negatives to applying wood and leaf ashes?
I apply it, but in moderation. We have a wood stove and a couple of times in late winter/early spring I will sprinkle some on the snow on top of the lawn. Sometimes I'll add a small bucketful to the compost too.
Most is used in the driveway instead of salt to provide traction and melt the ice throughout the winter. We also live on a hill on a deadend road and the neighbours love it when I throw it on the road to do the same. :O)
It can depend on from where the wood ashes come from.
Ashes from wood used in building---if treated, would not be the ideal ashes to use.
Ashes should not be used around vegetables or other foods that are digested.
Nor should they be put into a compost that ends up being used in a vegetable garden. The harmful metals usually associated with such ashes should be avoided.
Twenty pounds per 1000 sq. ft is the most one should plan on using on the lawn. The amount of 10 lbs of lime would amount to the same thing.
Acid soils can be helped with the adding of wood ashes.
Normally eastern soils can benefit. Western soils, being already heavily alkaline, would not.
There are plants that can be given wood ashes. Peony, clematis, iris among them.
Any time you use ashes though, water it in well.
Ashes are great for killing of slugs and snails. Acts like diatomaceous earth, dries them out.
Ashes, used with a damp newspaper, are great for cleaning windows.
During ice storms, when the shrubbery threatens to crack under the weight, wood ashes thrown over the shrub will draw the sun and save the shrub from major damage.
Same for trees whose limbs are bending. Throw ashes over the limb and the sun will do the rest.
As the excess falls to the snow below, it melts that and often, until a major fall follows, the snow area there will remain bare.
That's alright tho, ashes are great for the lawn.
Snow-melt will take it down.
Burning leaves produces large amounts of air pollutution and is largely a waste of a good resource because the combustion process destroys many of the valuable nutrients leaves have. Use the leaves in the garden as they come off the tree, or shred them, but don't burn them.
Wood ash is a very alkaline product, that can cause a large swing in soil pH and because it is very soluble that may raise your soils pH quickly but only for a short time. If you have a wood burning stove/furnace and your soil is acidic using wood ash could be something that is needed, but burning a pile of wood that would be better chipped up is a waste of valuable material.
I agree with Kimmsr on the leaves. Leaves 'mine' the soil with deep roots, and bring up a lot of minor nutrients, which they shed in leaves. Why not shred and compost them, and then you can add the compost to the lawn?
A slight correction to Jeannie's post... western soil isn't all alkaline, but DESERT-TYPE western soil does tend to be so. Areas of higher rainfall lean more toward acidic, some aggressively so, with a pH of 5 or so.
I'd also like to correct Jennie's post a bit, COAL ashes are high in heavy metals and shouldn't be used on eatables (spelled it that way on purpose!) wood ashes aren't.
I was going to say something like "people have spread wood ashes on gardens for years and years" and then I remembered my dad filling the garden with coal ashes. They did break up the clay soil but... *shiver*