Fireplace Ashes

marc00(6 Boston)February 2, 2003

Does anyone know a good use for fireplace ashes. I have been saving it all winter and am curious if could be put to good us in a garden.

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Although I have heard of people using them in gardens, I would recommend not using them in the garden, based on what I was taught in my Master Gardener classes from the University of CT extension. They said that the ashes tend to be quite alkaline, and can raise the pH as high as 13 by using very little ash. You probably want a pH closer to 6.5 , depending on what you are growing.

Also, depending on what you are burning, there could be toxins in your ash that you wouldn't want to contaminate the soil. It's a good question to ask your state's cooperative extension hot line. They may have some written info on it, too.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2003 at 11:12PM
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John_Paul(Zone 7 to 8)

Put them in the garbage. They will ruin or kill most plants.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2003 at 1:08AM
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naaa and nope....think, what were you burning in your fireplace that was toxic? Nothing, right? Those people were talking about a garbage burn not your fireplace in your house. Study up on it there is minerals in a fire. That is why forests come back so nice after a fire. I use ash once in awhile every season out of my firepit outside, not the rubbish pit. I don't go nuts with it but it works and doesn't kill anything. ohhh and 'they' should have said to cover the widest range of nutrient uptake you should use a ph of 5.8 to 6.2 not 6.5....ohh and haha@ruin most plants that means all the burned forests are ruined???

    Bookmark   March 17, 2003 at 12:18PM
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I spread it over my garden when we had a wood stove, and it didn't hurt the plants.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2003 at 10:28PM
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david52 Zone 6

We heat all winter with a wood stove, and I carry out a 3 gal bucket of ash every two weeks. I just chuck it anywhere, veggie garden, grass, flower beds. We also have alkali soil, and everyone warns against this, but it has not had any noticable effect. I wouldn't worry about it, just don't make a big pile some where.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2003 at 4:17PM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

No way could wood ashes raise the pH to 13. Even strong bases would not raise it that high. You better strigten out those Master Gardeners.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2003 at 3:13PM
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daviddmc(z6 NJ)

You could also add it sparingly to the compost piles, a little to each successive pile - until it's used up. That's what I do. Does no harm at all. Just don't load it up in the pile.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2003 at 1:55PM
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I just put it all over my asparagus bed. My husband read that it's good for them....(it's all from a woodstove). Hopefully, he read correctly. I've also just thrown them in the compost pile. We have slightly acidic soil, so I'm not really worried.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2003 at 4:34PM
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wolfpirate(zn 7)

Makes sense that fireplace ashes would not hurt the soil. A forest burns down and comes back even stronger. Mother Natures ways of creation. So why not in our gardens? It's just burnt wood and in the spring I mix my soil w/ compost manure and peat moss to give a good soil mixture. Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2003 at 1:33PM
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Hi, i put some wood ash in the garden and the rest i put in compost and spread out back over the drain feild , i also put bones from meals in the wood stove in winter and in the firepit outside the rest of the year.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2003 at 2:23PM
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Pond(Portsmouth, UK)

Ok, you're all getting het up about using WOOD ash in the garden. Sure, that's OK, but anything else, eg COAL ash is really harmful! I hope Marc hasn't just spread coal ash all over his garden

    Bookmark   June 1, 2003 at 10:51AM
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microfarmer(z9 Sac-o-tomato)

I too use wood ashes in the garden. I spread thin and mix with a tiller. Oh yea, at the same time I spread the compost pile and add composted horse manure (free from my neighbor).

A 10-20% ratio well mixed with other amendments ( blood or bone meal, manure, compost, peat,) should do just fine no matter where you put it (compost pile, garden, lawn, flower beds, etc.)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 1:58AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

If you use a 1 lb coffee can full per 100 sq ft per year you should be OK.

No coal or charcoal.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 5:09PM
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bungalow_mikee(z10 CA)

well I've read that manure will burn bamboo, so can you use the wood ash to neutralize the manure?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2003 at 5:17AM
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LanaN(Z8 Georgia)

I use the wood ash out of the wood burning stove in my rose garden. Quite alot also. They seem to be doing better since I started this. My glads seem to be happy with a little also. (that was a tip from my aunt who discovered this accidentally.
Like others above I also spread it in my lawn and use it in my compost.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2003 at 12:34PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Sorry but it does not follow that just because forests grow back strong when there is a fire that ash from burning wood in a fireplace is not harmful-especially in excess.

First, much nitrogen and other nutrients are made available in forest or prairies immediately after burning, but a very hot fire (Like the Hayman fire here in Colorado) is not going to grow back as the soils got so hot they are mineralized and in some cases sterile.

A little ash mixed in with other amendments and into the soil is not going to hurt. As others have cautioned, just don't make a big pile or over indulge-that will be harmful. I wouldn't personally add ash to MY soil here in Colorado but we did all the time on the east coat where soils were far less alkaline and threre was far more precip.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2003 at 8:03AM
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laa_laa(Sunset /8 or 9)

We use wood ash from the fireplace to spread around sections of newly planted vegetables as a sort of border. It is an organic barrier against snails. They will not crawl across it. It needs to be replenished from time to time. It sort absorbs slowly into the soil and has never hurt the soil.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2003 at 9:18PM
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hardy_transplant(z5a NY State)

I have accumulated a wheelbarrow or more of wood ashes from the wood stove.

I plan to use it as an organic herbicide and pH raiser when I apply it to a field of weeds with acidic soil I almost finished clearing when the snow covered everything.

My cooperative extension agent told me NOT to put it on the lawn or in the garden beds. She said it should work fine on the field of weeds.

I looked at a pioneer skills soapmaking web site which described a complicated method to extract lye from wood ashes and use the leftovers in the garden.

Apparently, leaving wood ashes out in the rain will leach out the potassium.

I wonder if there is a cheap and easy way to turn a lot of wood ashes into a safe pH neutral potassium source.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2004 at 9:04PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

Composting. I've read a lot about it lately, and apparently the beneficial bacteria in composting can even bind toxic and radioactive materials.

So, sprinkling ashes on your compost pile would be the way to neutralize the pH.

I don't have much ash left myself, since ash is even better than salt at melting ice on sidewalks. I always kept some in my van, in case of getting stuck. Sprinkle it on ice, and in a few minutes you can drive away.

The last batch of black dirt I bought for my garden containers turned out to be acidic. Carrots didn't grow. I amended the soil and will test the results this spring.

I'd think you could add wood ash, as you please, as long as you test the soil periodically. Potatoes like to be a little acid, as do blueberries, right? Carrots apparently don't.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2004 at 1:58PM
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bencelest(z9 CA)

But how can you make your soil acidic?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 8:48AM
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Of course you can! People have been doing this for years. Some indians would burn little piles of leaves and wood, then plant their three sisters on it later. Great fertilizer!

As said above, roses LOVE it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 9:57AM
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robyn_tx(8 Dallas)

In increase the soil acidity, add sulphur or sphagnum peat, or both. Sulphur works more quickly, but the peat is acidic and also is a good moisture retention material.

Wood ash is a great barrier for slugs and snails. They won't cross it. Won't cross egg shells either. That's what I use my wood ash for.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 3:04PM
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Laurie_z3_MB(sw MB)

My great aunt and uncle swore that spreading wood ashes on their vegetable garden and tilling it in kept their garden free of cutworms. I've been trying this out for the past couple of years and haven't seen a cutworm yet.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 4:40PM
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The forest will grow back eventually. It just won't be what you remember in your lifetime. In a few years underbrush will start to grow back, seeds blown in on the wind.
Wood ash in moderation is excellent. Yes, test your soil. If you use pine needles in your compost, it will neutralize the acidity. A sprinkle around alkaline loving plants will do wonders. If you dump a bucket on top of the grass, you might lose a spot. But a little in moderation won't hurt, just help. Just don't use it on your azaleas, rhododendrons & bluberries. But I hear that lilacs like it, going to try this spring.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2004 at 4:06PM
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Peter_in_Az(Sunset zone 10)

After wildland fires around here most of the ash is eather blown away by the wind or washed away by the (eventual) rain. I don't think mother nature tills much of it in.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2004 at 5:44PM
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spider(z5 IN)

I've used ashes from our stove every year for 10 years and it has not harmed anything and I have plant just about everything, the only thing that I know it can do is change the color of some flowers and I found out that was because
we use 2x4's or whatever and they would have nails in them.
But other than that it hasn't hurt a thing and we use egg shells too. Have a good one.
P.S. A weeping willow tree limb cut up in 1" to 2" and put in water is the best for watering your plants,leave it in there for about 24 hours before you use it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2004 at 10:12PM
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I tried firplace ashes on the sidewalk, once, to help the sun melt the ice and snow. The problem was the amount of material getting back into the house and carpet via the soles of shoes. If you try this, you will do it one time only and you'll feel like such an ash.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2004 at 11:25PM
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