Is Ash Good For Plants? ― Easy Gardening Tips
A common question that most gardeners try to answer about composting: “Is ash good for plants?” You may wonder if you can use ashes as fertilizer in your garden. Understanding if it will help or hurt your plants is important. How will it affect your garden? Like most new gardeners seeking an alternative organic solution for their garden, wood ash could be the thing that they’re looking for. So, keep reading to understand more about using wood ashes in the garden.
What is Wood Ashes?
Wood ashes, unlike coal ashes, can be a major improvement to the garden. Wood ashes include potassium or potash that is a critical plant nutrient.
Much as in humans, potassium controls the water content in plants (so tissue is solid and juicy) and has a role to play in moving food inside the plant and generating sugars and starches. Vegetables are more susceptible to fire, freezing, pests, and diseases without enough potassium.
I assume you’re moving to reach for the matches by now. Bonfires aren’t the only source of ash. You can also use wood-burning stoves to generate more ashes. A wood cord, like the regular firewood package in Canada and the USA, is likely to yield around 25lbs of wood ashes. Is ash good for plants? Yes, but you might have so much wood ashes, so you have to consider where you’re going to place them.
Where Not To Place Wood Ashes In The Garden
To help you, if ash is good for plants: Wood ashes have alkaline, which is not a suitable addition if the soil has a pH of 7.5 or higher already. Spreading it to acid-loving plants such as blueberries doesn't make sense. It is not recommended for areas where you expect to grow potatoes, although they enjoy potassium because increased alkalinity can attract the potato scab fungus.
It’s always worth noting that potash is highly soluble, so hold it dry until you use it. You can include the wood before you apply it to the compost heap. Place the ashes in the rain to wash away the potash, and you’ll be left with a gritty and useless sludge.
If you pile a massive amount of ash in one pace, you are risking over-lime your garden and destroying plants nearby.
Is Ash Good for Plants?
If you’re wondering if it’s safe to use wood ashes as fertilizer to your garden, the short answer is ‘yes.’ But you need to consider how and where you should use wood ashes in the garden while composting ashes is a great idea.
Add Ash to the Compost Heap
Wood ashes are a perfect addition to the compost heap, where they can support productivity (most plants need nutrients to some degree). When you have an adequate amount of ashes, we recommend not applying them all at once because they contain alkaline. That content will impact the bacteria and worms due to the increasing pH scale. It’s safer to keep ashes in a storage container and spread on a layer as much as possible.
If you choose to compost acidic fruit waste, the ashes can keep the fertilizer at a lower pH and minimize the need to lime the vegetable plots.
Wood ashes are also useful pest control. The salt in wood ashes kills pesky insects like slugs, snails, and other invertebrates. You need to spread the ashes around the base of the plants attacked by slow-moving pests. If the ashes get wet, you need to spray the wood ashes to eliminate the salt and make it effective pest control.
Adding Ash to the Soil
Spreading ash directly to the soil deters slugs and snails, but this impact vanishes as soon as it gets wet. But if you have vegetables, others suggest sprinkling ash in the drills, when sowing carrots to avoid vegetables and turnip moving down.
Throughout spring and autumn, you can apply ashes to the ground. Although it will scatter out, you may consider the drying up the area. Potash is enjoyed by root vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, peas, and beans. Some pods that have high weight and color benefits from the nutrients brought by wood ashes.
As far as fruit is concerned, if you have a little potash, it will go to dessert apples, redcurrants, and gooseberries. Then you can spread wood ashes to bananas, pears, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Plums, apricots, cherries, and blackcurrants love a daily sprinkle of wood ashes, and it’s nutrients, but they don’t require it badly.
Things to Consider Before Applying Wood Ash to Plants
Wood ashes are an excellent source of potassium and lime for your garden. Using ashes in the garden provides trace elements that most plants require to thrive.
Keep in mind that wood ash fertilizer is used either loosely spread or composted first along with the rest of the organic wastes. If it gets treated, wood ash can create lye and salts. The lye and salt do not trigger problems in small amounts, but they will burn your plants in larger quantities. Composting ashes from the fireplace enables leaching away the lye and salts. Not all fertilizers derived from wood ash are the same. The nutrients and minerals in your wood ash would be better because the fireplace ashes in your compost are produced from hardwoods, such as maples and oaks. If the ashes in your compost are created from the fireplace mainly by burning softwoods like pine or firs, the ashes will have fewer nutrients and minerals.
Keep exercising safety caution when implementing wood ashes to your garden. You must not use wood ashes if the soil has 7.0 pH or higher, as it will increase the soil pH. While some plants need alkaline but over alkalinity to your garden soils will cause damage to other plants. We recommend not using wood ashes if the potassium in the soil ranges higher amount. Hopefully, you’ve learned as much as you need about this article: “Is ash good for plants?”
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