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July 2012
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What are different characteristics of Wood Ash? – Part 2

What is Wood Ash?

• 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.

How does wood ash improve garden?

Wood ashes improve gardens 3 ways:
• acting as an organic fertilizer
• a soil amendment or soil conditioner
• work as an organic pesticide.

How to use wood ashes as an organic fertilizer?

• Scatter a layer of wood ashes over your garden before you till the garden soil in the spring, then till the soil as normal.
• The wood ashes will add phosphorus, potassium and several trace elements to the garden soil.
• Free, organic fertilizer in the form of wood ashes will already be in the soil.
• It is ready for the garden plants root’s to uptake their nourishment.
• The wood ashes help to loosen up dirt clods and help the soil retain more air.
• The organic matter of wood ashes helps increase the good bacteria action in the garden soil.
• This promotes healthy plant root growth.
• To use wood ashes as a garden soil amendment, you can also add them to your compost pile.
• Spreading wood ashes between layers of compost will help neutralize over-acidic compost.
• It will speed up the decomposition of the compost.
• It will introduce helpful bacteria to the compost, plus wood ashes will help keep down any odors emanating from your compost pile.
• Set aside some wood ashes for use as an organic pesticide on your garden.
• Wood ashes scattered around on top of your garden mulch will deter slugs, snails and cutworms, these garden pests hate to crawl across the crunchy wood ashes.
• Sprinkling a light circle of wood ashes around cauliflower, onions, beets, peas and turnips will repel root maggots, aphids and red spiders that attack these garden vegetables.
• Wood ashes around a garden also repel bigger pests like rabbits and deer.
• Wood ashes will need to be replenished after each rain throughout the garden growing season.
• This is for maximum pesticide effectiveness.
• Wood ashes do contain a large amount of lye.
• It should not be spread close to young, tender garden plant growth or on tender roots.
• Wood ashes also contain lime.
• They are not good to use around acid loving plants like azaleas, Dogwoods, blueberries, etc.

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