I wouldn't just dump the ashes. Wood ash is very alkaline and unless you
have very acidic soil you will be disturbing the PH considerably. A light
dusing if you need to lower the PH could be tried and may have some benefit
since the ash contains lots of trace elements and mineral.
I throw my wood ash into my compost so it can get mixed in with everything
else and add a balanced compost. provided my compost mix is correct I don't
have to worry about acidity/alkalinity. Don't used ash from treated wood or,
I have been told, coal ash.
I use a trash can full of wood ash every year (some 40lbs), in my two
vegetable gardens. Half a brazier will not change the pH appreciably
but will eliminate any possible K, Ca, Mn, B, Mg deficiency. If you
used wood, fine. You can compute it yourself. My garden natural pH is
5.5, which is acid, and wood ash is 10.4. It will take approximately
2lb of wood ash to change the pH of 10 square yds by one unit.
If you used charcoal, if it was derived from wood, it will be fine
also. I am not up to date as to how they make briquettes these days. In
the old day, it was wood slow burned in a kiln. Also, you ought to know
your pH. If you are in the East, you will be fine most of the time. If
you have alkaline soil, it is a bad idea.
I'm with you here-- I always spread wood ash on my garden back when I
burned wood. [Actually on the 50 feet where I planted a double row
of peas. Rotated around the garden. The peas liked the sweetness &
the whole garden got done eventually.]
I have seen repeated warnings *not* to use charcoal ashes as there are
chemicals in the briquettes that kill plants. That might be true,
but I've been dumping mine in a flower bed for 3 years [since we got
rid of the propane grill] and it hasn't hurt the flowers any. I
only go through about 100 pounds of charcoal per season, and I use
Kingsford hickory flavored briquets exclusively. More ash or a
different brand might harm something.
I just found this....
Differences in Ashes
If the ashes are from wood, they make an excellent addition for
gardens because they are high in potassium, calcium, sodium,
magnesium, and phosphorus. In areas where there is high rainfall, the
soils there are typically high in acid. Wood ash can actually help
decrease that acid level. Dry areas, however, tend to be more alkaline
in nature. Wood ash in dry areas can exacerbate that problem. Since
regions will vary, it's best to have your soil tested through a local
extension agent or garden center to see if wood ash can be helpful to
your soil prior to applying.
If the ashes are from burning coal, then you must be more aware of
proper removal for many reasons. First, you will have much more ash to
remove versus wood. Second, coal ash is not beneficial to a garden
because its potassium and phosphorus content are very low compared to
wood. Third, coal ash also contains a great deal of other elements,
such as cobalt, boron, and arsenic among others, which are toxic to
plants, animals, and people. You must be careful when burning coal
because ash can trap unburned carbon which means that more unburned
fuel is tossed away with coal ash versus wood. What else can you do
with the ashes once removed from the appliance? In more rural areas,
people will place them on their driveway to help overcome a slick
surface during winter. With coal ashes, you may do the same, but coal
ashes can affect springtime vegetation as it washes away during the
late winter. After a period of time when you feel that there are no
longer any potentially "live" coals, you should bag and dispose of
coal ashes at a transfer station or the local landfill.
I bung my wood ash on the compost heap thereby adding all the benefits of
the ash to a balanced piles of nutrients. Mixed in with everything else it
should not be too deterimental to alkaline soils though not as effective for
acid soils by the sounds of it.
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