Composting with fireplace ashes

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If they are ashes from wood, especially wood which was not treated with CCA (never use that for any reason, particularly don't ever burn it) you can put a very small smathering of ashes in the compost pile. It will add some potash, but is highly base and cannot be used in high amounts.
On Fri, 07 Nov 2003 10:41:12 -0700, Grandpa <jsdebooATcomcast.net> opined:

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On Fri, 07 Nov 2003 10:41:12 -0700, Grandpa <jsdebooATcomcast.net> wrote:

It depends on your soil. If it's alkaline, forget the ashes. If it's acid, go ahead.
As you've probably deduced, ashes are alkaline. We don't put them on our alkaline soil in the CA desert for that reason.
Mary
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Mary Shafer wrote:

Thanks Mary, I'm in Albuquerque so I have plenty of alkalinity already.
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I wouldn't put anymore than a little 1 gallon pail full into a large compost heap. It will slow down the composting process. If you put in too much you run the risk of killing off some of the little microbes and worms that you want to live there. Particularly here where the composting season is very short and takes longer in spring for microbes to repopulate again. May not have as bad of an effect on warm climate composting - quicker recovery if you have a very active compost. Still would add sparingly over time and see how it goes.Mix it well with some grass cuttings or other high nitro organic material.
I also have a woodstove. I have spread some sparingly in some flower beds - but only do it maybe every few yrs. We also have alkaline soil here. Before I moved into this house my husband lived here on his own and would dump ashes freely into the existing tulip and lettuce beds - it took a lot of amelioration to get these beds back into shape to be able to grow anything else decently (a lot of stunted plants).
Luckily I have other uses for the ashes. 1. 90 acres in the country where I can dump it in many places to discourage grass growth - gravel road, pathways, etc. or some back in the forest the trees came from. 2. An outhouse where we use it mixed with peat moss and dump it down the hole! Keeps the smell down. Note: our outhouse is not over any ground water reservoirs. 3. City friends who take it for their gardens. 4. When lacking any options, a very large city compost site that I can take it to.
Sure would like to here anyone elses uses for it!!
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I doubt I'd ever put them in my compost pile, but I spread them about the beds of my lilacs. They absolutely love it -- seems like they grow higher and higher ever time I cook out. :)
An important item to note -- if we're talking about normal wood, i.e. the kind you collect in the forest and such, then you should be fine. If you're talking about processed stuff (like you would buy in a lumber yard for example) then you may wish to reconsider. If the wood has been treated in any way then definitely do NOT burn it. Same goes for woods like poison ivy and the like -- gives off noxious fumes (toxic in some cases).
We typically burn maple, walnut, and occasionally a few other junk trees in the yard that lose branches. We'll be burning even more if I ever get that firepit dug in. :)
James
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JNJ wrote:

Having a dozen lilac bushes around the yard I may give this a shot on one or two. They love the soil they are in now and grow pretty quick too, although it is quite alkaline. I'll add a shovel full to a couple and watch what happens. Worst it can do is probably nothing, or I can dump manure on them to counteract<G>.

Yup, cut it myself for burning, me and my trusty Husqvarna Rancher 55 chainsaw.

The only lumberyard stuff I use is the tiny bit for kindling, then its split logs.
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I read some time ago that it is OK as a small proportion. However, some wood sources can contain a lot of heavy metal...hence the precaution. At least that is what I read, and I cannot remember the source.
Also, since it is very alkaline, you wouldn't want so much that it could significantly alter the pH of your compost/garden.
On the plus side, it is a great source of potassium. I know some local market gardeners who sware by dusting their garlic beds with wood ash they improve their results considerably.
good luck "Grandpa" <jsdebooATcomcast.net> wrote in message

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