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Ashes to Ashes

COMMUNITY CENTERRecycling & ReusingYard & LandscapingFeb 11, 2014Elizabeth Vaughn

Author: Elizabeth Vaughn

Love snuggling up by the fire during the winter?   Did you know that while you’re enjoying the roaring flames you could also be making fertilizer?!

Ashes from untreated wood can help raise the pH in your soil which is a good thing if you have acidic soil.  Here are a few things to consider before using ashes as fertilizer:

  • The ashes must come from untreated wood only – no cardboard, coal or treated/stained wood.
  • Your soil must be acidic.  You can find out if your soil is acidic or alkaline by using a soil test kit or by conducting this fun little experiment!  Scoop some soil into a container and add half a cup of vinegar.  If the soil bubbles and fizzes, it’s alkaline.  If there’s no reaction, scoop a fresh soil sample into a different container, add half a cup of water and half a cup of baking soda.  If the soil bubbles or fizzes, it is acidic.
  • Do not use ashes on acid-loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
  • Don’t use it on newly germinated seeds who won’t like all the added salts.
  • Don’t use too much and be sure to spread it evenly.  A suggested application rate is 20 pounds per 100 square feet annually (if you have a small garden that breaks down to 1 pound for every 5 square feet annually.)

Experiment and see what works best for you!

*A note to help out our local waste management folks:  If you choose not to put ashes in your garden, please be careful of how you dispose of them.  Always soak the ashes and burnt logs in water until completely cooled before placing them in your garbage cans.  Even though a fire may appear to be out, embers and ash are still capable of causing fires accidentally and we don’t want that to happen in the garbage can or truck!