Fireplace Ash: Good or Bad For Gardens? (Expert Guide)
Is fireplace good or bad for your garden?
For a long time, mixed reactions have been put across on whether fireplace ash is safe for use in gardens or not. A good number of folks confess the benefits their lawns have gained from the ash.
And a handful of users complain that the white powder that collects in your fireplace has done more damage to their crops than ever.
These reactions might leave you confused on whether you should use in your garden or avoid it altogether.
In our discussion below, we’ll discuss in details the good and the bad sides of your fireplace ash.
The Good of Fireplace Ash in Your Garden
As you know, the use of ash from your fireplace in the gardens has existed there for hundreds of years. If you research widely, you’ll also discover that this messy stuff created in your fireplace was also used to manufacture the first ash fertilizer.
But what benefits does it introduce t your lawn? They’re many. And we’ll just cover the main ones below.
Neutralizing Acidic Soil
Unless you’re growing plants that love acid (e.g. blueberries, pepper, azaleas, etc.), you would want to maintain the pH of your soil to the ideal value- 6 to 7.5.
This pH range is considered perfect for your garden soil, given that the nutrients in the fertilizer you use will be readily dissolved in the water and actually absorbed by your plants’ roots.
If your soil proves to be too much acidic (with pH below 6), it means that our plants won’t be able to enjoy enough nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.
Also, too much alkaline soil (with a pH value above 7.5) means that your plants won’t be able to receive adequate manganese, iron, and phosphorous.
The fact that wood ash carries up to 70% calcium carbonate makes it an excellent alternative to lime.
Unlike the traditional limestone- which acts at a slow rate- fireplace ash neutralizes your soil acidity faster, probably due to the small size of its particles.
Beware: As a rule of thumb, never apply more than25 pounds of wood ash for every 1000 square feet of soil. And after you’ve used the ash, always make sure you re-test the soil.
Wood Ash is Great for Calcium Loving Plants
If you’re an experienced farmer, you might argue that crushed eggplants are the best sources of calcium in a garden.
But sometimes it’s good to look for alternatives. And in this case, your fireplace works best. It’s another natural substance packed with loads of calcium carbonate that all calcium loving plants will love.
Examples of such plants include lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, Brussels, tomatoes, potatoes, apple trees, carrots, and celery.
Just take the ash produced in your fireplace and sprinkle it sparingly on your lawn. Work it into the soil- around the calcium-loving plants mentioned above.
Then relax and wait for your fireplace ash to do its magic!
Ever Heard of Ash Tea?
Well, this is an excellent tea that you can brew from your fireplace ash to help prevent or correct any potassium deficiencies.
Have you spotted some brown spots, yellowing between the eat veins, stunted plant growth, curling leaf tips, and reduced crop yield in your plants? These are surefire signs that your plants are lacking adequate potassium.
Plants such as tomatoes, currants, sugar beets, raspberries, and potatoes are more prone to the deficiency.
Luckily, you can save them from their misery by feeding them with ash tea.
To make this tea:
- Put around 5 pounds of ash in an old pillow case (or any other cloth bag), then tie it closed
- Place the bag in a fifty-gallon garbage bin
- Fill the container with water and let the bag steep there for a few days
- After the tea ash has perfectly brewed, pour about a cup around your plants on a weekly basis
Fireplace Ash is a Key Component for Compost Pile
And compost pile is ideal for your garden. It’s an organic, all-purpose fertilizer that promotes flowering in fruiting in your plants by boosting their potassium levels.
However, it’s always advisable to avoid putting too much ash in your compost heap as this might ruin the pH of your soil and give the acid loving plants a hard time to adopt.
The Downside of Fireplace Ash in Your Garden
And now the bad side of using the fireplace ash in your garden.
There isn’t anything bad about using wood ash in your garden. The only problem is how you use it. You use it wisely, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits we have outlined above. You use it without caution, and you’ll be in for a rude shock.
Practice the caution tips explained below to make the best out of fireplace ash in your garden.
1. Avoid using contaminated wood ash
What is contaminated wood ash?
You might ask. Right, this is wood ash that contains chemicals and results from the burning of pressure treated wood, stained or painted wood, briquettes, charcoals, or the commercial products such as wood logs that burn slowly.
Ash resulting from such substance contains trace elements which will introduce harmful effects to your plants if you apply it in excessive amounts.
For instance, cardboard boxes have glue that contains boron-a toxic element that significantly affects plants growth.
2. DON’T use ash on any acid loving plants
3. Avoid applying wood ash to potato patch. Ash might lead to development of potato scabs
4. Avoid using wood ash to the newly germinated seeds. The salt in this product is way too much for your seedlings to bear
5. Avoid Adding Ash with Nitrogen Fertilizers
Some good examples of nitrogen fertilizers include urea (46-0-0), ammonium sulfate (21-0-0-24S), or ammonium nitrate (34-0-0). The reason for this caution is that wood ash is highly alkaline and would promote the production of ammonia gas when putting into contact with such fertilizers.
Bringing it All Together
Hopefully, you now have an idea what benefits your garden soil can gain from wood ash. When used wisely, it can help fertilize your lawn, benefit the calcium-loving plants, neutralize acidic soils, and enrich your compost heap with potassium and so much more.
Wood ash from hardwoods- like maple and oak- has proved dot carry up to 5 times more nutrients compared to the softwoods.
You can keep off the ugly effects of wood ash on your lawn by applying it in the right manner. Follow our caution tip above when using your fireplace ash.
When handling your fireplace ash, remember to wear protective clothing such as gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask. Remember that you’re handling a strong alkali.