Essentially, this is a free resource for you as a byproduct of those delightful fires you love having so much. Once review this list, you’ll be going out of your way to stock up on as much of this fantastic resource as possible. Piles of wood ashes in the backyard can be unsightly, and throwing them away can feel wasteful. What can you do with all of those ashes, though? Cathe' Fish over at peakprosperity.com share some amazing uses for wood ashes.
Before we begin our discussion of the uses of ash, a special note of caution needs to be mentioned. Take wood ash away from the woodstove or fireplace in a metal bucket. Never store it in plastic, at least not until the ash is absolutely cool. This way, you avoid burning down buildings (a potentially devastating risk) or damaging surfaces in your house.
Use only high-quality wood ash. No ashes from BBQ grills, cardboard, plywood, painted, or pressure-treated wood. Hardwood ash (oak) is superior to softwood (pine) ash.
Using Ash in the Garden – Three Caveats
1. DO NOT USE ASH IF YOUR SOIL HAS AN ALKALINE pH of 7.5 or higher. It will make the soil too alkaline or salty. Alkaline soils are found in low rainfall areas in the Western U.S. Use wood ash only in locations where soils are acidic, like forest soils and mountain soils, or places where there is adequate rainfall in the warm season…not in alkaline soils like the desert.
If you have been farming or gardening with chemicals, check your soil pH. Most chemicals increase the pH and will eventually salt the soil
On the pH scale, 7 is neutral (like pure water), below 7 is acidic with 1 being the most acidic (like battery acid); and above 7 is alkaline with 14 being the most alkaline (like liquid drain cleaner). Normal garden soil is typically 5.5 to 7.5 pH. Wood ash is typically 10.4 pH
Use Wood Ashes To:
1. Spread finely on the soil on your property. Use a large coffee can or a box with nail holes punched into the bottom. Spread so that it looks like fine baby powder on the soil.
2. Enrich compost. Enhance compost nutrients by sprinkling in a few ashes so that it looks like a fine powder. Adding too much, though, ruins compost.
3. Composting citrus rinds. In a bucket of wood ash, place rinds of citrus or anything that is hard to break down. Make sure to cover the bucket.
4. Calcium loving plants. For calcium-loving plants like tomatoes, sprinkle and spread out 1/4 to 1/8 cup (NOT MORE) right in the hole when planting. More is not better. It should look like a powdered baby’s butt.
5. Block garden pests. Spread evenly around garden beds, ash repels slugs and snails.
6. Control pond algae. One tablespoon per 1,000 gallons adds enough potassium to strengthen other aquatic plants that compete with algae, slowing its growth.
7. De-skunk pets. A handful rubbed on your dog’s coat neutralizes that familiar lingering odor.