wood ashes

i have some wood ashes available and have been reading up on the best ways to use them.
i'd be interested in hearing from people who use them and experiences or cautions.
what i have read so far says to not overdo it keeping the application rate for one time shot at 1/4 to 1/2 inch. they won't be in direct contact with plants at all, i'm mixing them in some shredded bark/wood and then putting several inches of heavy soil over them.
i can put plenty more down deeper if it would really help the soil conditions and nutrients, but i also don't want to waste them.
thanks! :)
songbird
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On Saturday, April 27, 2013 9:43:35 AM UTC-6, songbird wrote:
I have some wood ashes available and have been reading up on the best ways to use them.
I'd be interested in hearing from people who use them and experiences or cautions.
What I have read so far says to not overdo it keeping the application rate for one time shot at 1/4 to 1/2 inch. They won't be in direct contact with plants at all, I'm mixing them in some shredded bark/wood and then putting several inches of heavy soil over them.
I can put plenty more down deeper if it would really help the soil conditions and nutrients, but I also don't want to waste them.
Thanks! :)
songbird ============= Google listed this site which gives some really good advice.
http://www.weekendgardener.net/blog/2009/01/wood-ash-in-my-garden-as-fertilizer.htm
=============
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On 4/27/2013 12:19 PM, Roy wrote:

http://www.weekendgardener.net/blog/2009/01/wood-ash-in-my-garden-as-fertilizer.htm
Having acidic soil I had a 5 gallon metal bucket for them and when full would sprinkle them on the back lawn. Never caused any harm.
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Frank wrote: ...

thanks.
songbird
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On 4/27/2013 8:42 PM, songbird wrote:

I should have added that I don't put them on thick and scatter widely. Frank
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Frank wrote:

i read it as you meant it. sprinkle is much different than pour or dump. :)
songbird
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I'd say that is WAY too thick an application. I use wood ashes like I would icing sugar on a cake - it's a light dusting over the surface not a thick layer. I think 'icing sugar' is called soemthing llike 'confectioner's sugar int he US, if that is any help.
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Farm1 wrote:

...
how it turned out today the rate was probably about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch at the most. this isn't a surface application, this is mixed with six to eight inches of acidic clay, sand, and shredded bark. then repeat several times to get down about a foot. topped with four inches of plain soil (clay, sand, some organic material mixed in). 5-10% of the ashes are charcoal.
the nitrogen deficit is intentional. for select plantings there will be added worms/ worm poo. all that extra carbon is there to raise up the area, soak up extra water and soak up any extra nitrogen. i'll top dress through the season with green manures if it looks like things need a boost more than what the w/wp provides. last year i didn't need to add anything.
i think i gained about a foot and a half, but that will settle by around a third.

ok, you haven't ever used them by digging them in?

powdered sugar or confectioners sugar is the use i've always heard. :)
songbird
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No. I usually water after I've applied them though. It tends to be seasonal task here - mostly spring and autumn.

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Farm1 wrote:

...
ok. thanks.
how is your gardening season shaping up?
songbird
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At this time of the year we are deep into autumn so all the usual veg that is affected by frost is done and dusted. It wasn't a great year for tomatoes as it just didnt' get hot enough for long enough - we got aobut 1 week of really good hot stuff and then the temps bounced back and forth too much to give a decent result for the heat lovers. I did eventually get the rockmelons (cantaloup) to harvest but more heat would have been better there too.
But the autumn her is lovley - prolly not as good as some of the pics of parts of the US would indicate,b ut long balmy days whn it's chilly forst thign and then as the day warms up you wonder why you put on some of the thermals to wrok outside. Lucky we live in a place where no-one can see me as I strip off an outer layer sometimes to work in my vest/singlet/undershirt thermal thingo.
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Roy wrote: ...

http://www.weekendgardener.net/blog/2009/01/wood-ash-in-my-garden-as-fertilizer.htm
thanks *wanders off and looks at it*.
ok, i've read that. hmm, not really quite what i'm after, but the cautions are those i'm already familiar with.
songbird
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In many cases 1/2 inch might be overdoing it, I think. I usually just stand on the upwind side of the garden and toss ashes into the air for a thin broadcast layer (often on top of the snow in heating season - as opposed to storing the ashes...) and that will get mixed in in spring. In the orchard they are just spread around the trees and left on top of the soil to gradually soak in.
They can actually be useful right on the surface of the soil - just give a small buffer zone to plants, or use paper collars if you can stand that or need to for cutworms anyway. They can be offputting to some sorts of pesty bugs (not remembering exactly which at the moment.)
They are alkali (like lime) and therefore should not be put on or mixed with things intended for application to an acid bed, such as blueberries. It's also one reason not to overdo them. Presumably folks with alkaline soils might want to avoid them, I don't really know, our soils are generally acidic without treatment and do better for most plants with some lime or ashes added.
They are a good source of potassium (the alkaline factor is primarily KOH, IIRC) and trace minerals. If they happen to have some charcoal, all to the good.
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Ecnerwal wrote:

i'm digging them in, layers deep, mixing with an acidic clay and sand mix. as it turned out today i probably used about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of ashes per layer of about 8 inches of mixed dirt and woody stuff. topped by plain clay/sand mix with a few organic materials in there.
the harshest reaction happens fairly soon as there is contact with water. digging it in will spread the reaction across a greater volume.

not likely to happen as these are raised gardens for the most part and i would get hassles from the management if she saw them just sitting there on the surface.

got that, thanks. :)
the same here, our soil is fairly acidic clay. we have large areas of crushed limestone mulch that adjusts pH. the poppies take over if we let them.
the strawberry patches only get added organic materials. i haven't needed to sulfur them yet. they're raised up if they are in a flood prone area.
blueberries are on my "someday" wishlist.

about 5-10% charcoal. thanks,
songbird
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On Saturday, April 27, 2013 11:43:35 AM UTC-4, songbird wrote:

We use the wood stove regularly from October through April as there's no radiator in the living room. We cut and burn five or six trees each year, so we have a lot of ash. During the winter we scatter the ashes over the garden and let the rain and melting snow work it into the soil. After the spring tilling, we empty the ashes onto the compost pile.
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As we all know, Potassium (potash) is necessary for the development of chlorophyll, that almost magical substance in green plants that makes the miracle of photosynthesis possible. Potassium also strengthens plant tissue and makes plants more disease resistant. Plants that receive too little potassium look stunted. Potassium washes out of compost quite easily. You can restore it to the garden by adding wood ashes, greensand, or muriate of potash.
The late Bernard G. Wesenberg, a former Washington State University Extension horticulturist, recommended using one gallon of ashes per square yard on loam to clay-loam soil, and half as much on sandier soils.
If you are top dressing the lawn or flowerbeds use only about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ashes per year.
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