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What are different characteristics of Wood Ash? – Part 1




What is a Wood Ash and When and Where it is used?

• Ashes from fireplaces and wood burning stoves are a good source of potassium.
• It is a lesser source of phosphorus and some micro-nutrients.
• The nutrients depend on the type of wood burned.
• If your soil has a potassium deficiency, wood ashes can be a good amendment.
• They can also be a source of heavy metals that you don’t necessarily want in your garden.
• They contain a good percentage, about 25%, calcium carbonate, an ingredient in garden lime.
• If your soil is very acidic (5.5 of lower), wood ash can improve the soil pH.
• If your soil is neutral or alkaline to begin with, adding wood ash could raise the pH high which is enough to interfere with plants ability to take in nutrients.
• Wood ash should also be avoided around acid loving plants like rhododendrons and blueberries.
• Bottom line is that a small amount of wood ash will add some nutrients and be beneficial to most soils.
• Large amounts should be avoided.
• Wood ashes will raise soil pH because the largest component of wood ash (about 25 percent) is calcium carbonate which is a common liming material that increases soil alkalinity.
• Use them only if your soil pH is under 7.0 based on a soil test.
• The safe rate of wood ash application to lawn or gardens is 15 to 20 lbs. (7 to 9 kg) per 1000 square feet (93 square meters) per year, which is about a 5 gallon (19 l) pail.
• A little wood ash is beneficial. A lot is not because increasing the alkalinity of the soil does affect plant nutrition.
• Nutrients are most readily available to plants when the soil is slightly acidic.
• As soil alkalinity increases and the pH rises above 7.0, nutrients such as phosphorus, iron, boron, manganese, copper, zinc and potassium become chemically tied to the soil and less available for plant use.
• Wood ash does have some fertilizer value.
• The amount varying somewhat with the species of wood being used.
• Wood ash contains less than 10 percent potash, 1 percent phosphate and trace amounts of micro-nutrients such as iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc.
• Trace amounts of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, nickel and chromium also may be present.
• Wood ash does not contain nitrogen.
• Applying small amounts of wood ash to most soils will not adversely affect your garden crops.
• The ash does help replenish some nutrients.
• Crop tolerance to alkaline soil also should be considered.
• Some plants, such as asparagus and juniper, are more tolerant of slightly alkaline conditions than “acid-loving” plants.
• Acid loving plants are like potatoes, rhododendrons and blueberries.
• Wood ash should never be used on acid-loving plants.
• The best thing with wood ash is to use it sparingly.
• Test your soil pH regularly to make sure you are not causing any problems.
• Wood ashes from a fireplace or a wood burning stove are an organic treasure for your garden.
• Save the wood ashes in a fireproof or waterproof container to be used on your garden.





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