How to use wood ashes in the garden? 5 smart uses

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Do you love to start a small fireplace or enjoy the warmth of the wood stove in autumn or winter? In this case, it did not escape you: we end up with a lot of ashes which we do not know what to do with. The good news is that these ashes are great for the garden. Gardeners of all generations have been using them for a long time to provide their plants with all the good nutrients they provide. And the same principle as with coffee grounds or newspaper: it allows for very clever recycling! Also, you have everything to gain by keeping them in a bucket or waterproof bag to spread them in the garden and serve many uses after a simple passage through a sieve. Here’s how to use wood ashes in the garden.

Remember to keep ashes to do the laundry with ashes and to do the maintenance of the house (in particular to make the silverware shine or to clean the glass of the insert!).

1) Ashes are a good natural fertilizer for the garden

Ash ash gardening garden fertilizer
Credit: iStock

Ashes are rich in potash, calcium, potassium, magnesium, silica and phosphorus. It’s this rich in mineral elements that make it such a powerful natural fertilizer. These mineral salts and trace elements help to promote the flowering of shrubs and fruit trees in the orchard that the flowering and development of flowers, fruits and vegetables from the garden and vegetable patch. It doesn’t just help fruiting. By correcting the acidity of the soil, it also allows any planting of develop strong roots. This amendment appeals to roses, bamboo, citrus and berry plants, fruit vegetables (eggplant, cucumber, beans, tomatoes, etc.), flowering vegetables (artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) and root vegetables ( carrot, turnip, potato…) whose development is stimulated.

2) Ashes against harmful garden pests

slugs
Credit: Michel_van_der_Vegt / Pixabay

Using ashes to repel gastropods in the garden is a well-known process. It is indeed a good slug and snail repellent to protect seedlings from attack. To do this, we spread it around the plants to create protection. However, this protection withers with dew or rain. Therefore, consider dispersing it again or supplementing with other natural repellents against these undesirable. Sprinkled in a furrow, they can also keep flea beetles away from radishes and cabbages. Finally, a gardener can also use it occasionally and locally to dislodge some aphids on large leaves like cabbage leaves.

3) Ashes to correct the acidity of the soil in the garden

Very calcareous, ash is very often used for rectify acidic soils. For logical reasons, on the other hand, it is to be banned on already very calcareous soils of which it worsens the alkalinization! You should also know that earthworms and other beneficial soil microorganisms love wood ash. Spreading ash thus improves water infiltration. Note, however, that contrary to popular belief, ash does not destroy moss on a lawn ! However, by correcting the acidity of the soil, it limits the appearance of moss.

4) Add to the compost

ashes garden compost composting
Credit: iStock

Ashes are quite compostable within your green and brown waste, but in small quantities. In fact, to abuse it would risk hampering the good aeration necessary for effective decomposition of the composting elements. In addition, it could then slow down bacterial activity in the compost. Better to limit yourself to a small handful every now and then in your humus to help limit bad odors.

5) other gardening tips

Ashes are not only good for being used at the base of plants to fertilize them! Wood ash handily replaces salt, for example or baking soda to clear a snowy driveway. Its texture is indeed the same, which helps to melt the snow with it. You can also roll your bulbs in wood ash to limit attack by slugs and the proliferation of fungi.

Precautions to know before using your ashes in the garden

ash lye
Credits: iStock – Edit: ADGM

Before using wood ash, make sure that it is cold and extinct. This avoids burning the plants and starting a fire. In addition, it can only be handled with protective gloves when spreading in the garden, because it is slightly caustic. When spreading, parsimony is required, because we want to avoid at all costs suffocating the soil. A carefully sifted handle to avoid large pieces will be more than enough. Then, briefly bury it with a hook to prevent it from becoming encrusted.

Moreover, even in small doses, the ashes remain incompatible with the garden in some cases. For example, it is poor in nitrogen, but rich in limestone. So she is little appreciated by acid-loving plants (azaleas, camellias, Japanese maples, rhododendrons, etc.). Finally, we do not recommend the use of certain ashes:

-Do not use varnished, painted or treated wood ash so as not to pollute the floors with residues of chemicals. Also be careful not to burn plastic! Use only untreated wood.
-Ban the use of mineral charcoal ash, which is very toxic in the garden.
-Finally, absolutely avoid plywood, composite wood or OSB panels rich in glues and chemical resins.

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