What should I do with my wood burner ash? I get about a 2 gallon volume every week and if I throw it all in my 400 square foot garden what will be the result? Better fertility? PH imbalance? Imbalance of nutrients? Many Thanks for your advice.
For some reason, I once decided that onions would benefit from the ashes from my wood-burning stove. But, just to test this idea, I put the ashes on only one side of a bed and planted onion sets.
I really should have gotten some idea of the potassium available to the plants before I did this. Extra was really unnecessary and, probably because the pH was too high, the onions in the ash-treated soil grew much less than those on the other side of the bed.
Not only is the soil somewhat alkaline here but even the irrigation water has a fairly high pH .
What I did after that was to allow the ashes to cool for about a week and then threw them on the compost. That was the procedure until I no longer lived with that wood stove.
All that organic material in the compost tends to be acidic. And, the ashes ended up distributed over several thousand square feet.
Now, if your soil is acidic . . . you could probably throw wood ashes most anywhere and gain some benefit from them.
I agree with digits, wood ashes tend to be alkaline. I add wood ashes from wood burning BBQ in my garden all the time it does contain certain elements or minerals that are good for the garden but depending what crops your growing. Definitely check on the pH first don't just add the ashes right away.
Thanks for all the replies. Looks like "everything in moderation" might be the simplest approach here. Put some ashes in the garden and throw the rest elsewhere, at least until I get around to doing a pH test.
Riverman, my Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening tells me that wood ashes are 10% potash and 1.5% phosphorus. It shows that lime is up to 65% phosphate and bone meal is listed as 21%. Manures are about the same as wood ashes. I am sure that the type of wood burned makes a difference.
The encyclopedia also says to apply wood ashes at a rate of 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet. If you've got 20 pounds of ashes after a couple cleanings of your stove - you've got enuf for 200 square feet at the high end and 400 square feet at the low.
Probably for most people with a well-used wood stove and coming thru a zone 4 or 5 winter, there's enuf ashes for a 1,000 square foot garden - evenly spread. I am just guessing.
Potassium, but not much else and risky if loaded on for some of our soils because what is in ashes, leaches out of it quickly.
Thanks for posting this question, and love the replies. I end up with some wood ash too, and really thought good to such sandy soil as I have. But it's already alkaline. Aren't there enough trace nutrients in it to go ahead and cause me benefit to use on my soil? I need ANYthing to help build this 'sugar sand,' and have been saving wood ash for some time for this purpose. My wood is pine and palm frond mixture.