Ash disposal

We burn our paper trash (in the same barrel in which we burn wood for barbecues) and we had to do something with the accumulated ashes. My wife had our son go through this elaborate process of mixing the ash with specific proportions of regular dirt (mostly clay in our not-so-arable area) and sand, saying that the ashes can provide useful nutrients to the garden but in high concentrations can be destructive.
I asked for details on what amounts of ash are good for the garden (or, for that matter, the water lines running under the garden from the well to our house) and what amounts are corrosive, and she couldn't be more specific.
A quick google turns up nothing useful, only discussions about what kinds of paper are good for composting unburned. What with food wrappers, computer printouts (I work out of a home office), and junk mail we generate way too much paper trash to be able to compost it directly even with the help of our worm colony. So no matter what, we're going to be burning most of this stuff and need to do something with the ashes.
So... what is and isn't safe to do with a big pile of ashes that includes crispy shreds of what used to be white paper, colored paper, cardboard, wood scraps, and bits of cellophane from windowed envelopes? I should probably mention that we live on 8 acres outside city limits and there are no applicable covenants in this neighborhood.
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Peter B. Steiger
Cheyenne, WY
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Only burn low print paper. Stay away from high color ink paper always. Cellophane is oil based, don't burn it. Wood and described paper is okay.
Usenet is free. No need to subscribe to something that doesn't use a newsreader. Dave
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On Wed, 01 Aug 2007 19:55:51 -0500, Dave sez:

Well, that's a whole different topic - whether it's worth our time and effort to individually cut out the cellophane windows that represent (WAG) 0.1% of the paper trash we burn, or go ahead and throw it in with the paper on the hopes that it's too small an amount to do any damage, or just give up and throw the envelopes in the landfill - paper, plastic, and all.
My question was not whether we should or shouldn't burn the various items described (although I'm open to improving my priorities on that subject as well) but whether it's safe to put the resulting ashes in our garden or if they should be disposed of some other way.
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Peter B. Steiger
Cheyenne, WY
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Okay, point taken. You can burn your pet cat and throw him in the garden. Best to just bury as is. Dave
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I wonder what will grow first: Cat's Ears Pussy Paws Cat's Claws Cat Tails ???? * ? ) *
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On 01 Aug 2007 23:14:10 GMT, "Peter B. Steiger"

Ashes are a good addition to acidic soil. But if your soil is neutral, adding ashes can make the soil alkaline (many plants prefer slightly acidic or neutral soil). Test your pH then add ashes sparingly. Ashes, when mixed with grease, make soap.
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That's a good rule of thumb for a lot of things you are tempted to add to a garden.
The more "scientific" way would actually involve measuring what your particular ash is like, what your soil is like, etc. Not necessarily a bad idea. But at some point one usually ends up with a certain amount of guesswork and "well, things seemed to grow when we did it".
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