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Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by Daisy6582, Feb 5, 2007.
Does anyone know if fireplace ashes have a benefit to plants, if so, what can I do with them?
Depends on what was burnt in the fireplace.
From coal, and from preservative-treated timber, definitely no. Also no, if the fire was used to dispose of household rubbish (plastic, glossy magazine paper, etc).
If the fire was only with natural wood, then yes, in small amounts scattered thinly on the ground.
Clematis seem to like it. We burn very old applewood...(about all our orchard was good for).
They are an excellent source of potassium and some micronutrients. As the others noted, only ashes of untreated, natural wood should be used in a garden. I remember reading some use of ash as an organic pest control but not the specific applications -- sprinkling about the base of a tree to keep ants or something else off, I think. It effectively raises soil pH if used in any quantity. Here is a relevant webpage: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/woodash.html
Be careful not to get any on the plants themselves as it will tend to burn, and I would put it between plants as opposed to right underneath, it can burn root also. Janet
A friend of mine had some fireplace ashes in a bucket that was exposed to rain water. Unknowingly, her young daughter got into this mixture and burned her hands. It was later revealed by the attending physician that this will burn your skin, like lye.
When I planted my berry bushes, I put generous amounts of fireplace ashes around them , and it took me several years to get the soil healthy.
Of course I did not know then that ashes from West Coast trees such as cedar, fir, hemlock, were bad bad bad.... (I had read books written on the East Coast ...)
Alder ashes may be ok, though, do you think ? I have not dared using them !!!
I can't understand why ashes from any particular tree would be any different from one another. After burning the wood down your removing all organics and water leaving only what the tree took up as minerals from the soil. I have been putting ashes from my fireplace on the garden for years with no apparent ill effects. Lightly sprinkled over an area should not change the ph drastically. My cowslips seem to love it and my soil needs sweetening ever so often and the trace elements in ash can't harm the soil.
Our lilacs seem to relish a bit of ash scattered lightly around the base of the plant from time to time. Ashes contain many nutrients that can be beneficial to certain plant and tends to raise the pH of the soil.
Check out this link for more info on using fireplace ashes in your garden:
Good luck with your garden,
I use maple wood ash sparingly mostly for flea beetle control on my radishes. A light sprinkling in the seed bed, and a light sprinkling on the newly emerged seedlings sort of discourages these pests, but the above ground application must be continued afer a rain. The results are mixed, since I always have flea beetles to some degree.