Compost or Burn?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by rocket, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. rocket

    rocket Well-Known Member

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    I've seen a number of people mentioning burning garden waste instead of composting it and using the ash as a soil amendment. It seems like a good way to keep from putting pests and diseases back in the garden, but does anyone know how much of the nutrients (especially nitrogen) go up in smoke? And I hear that water can leach the ash out of the soil very quickly.

    I've also been reading lately about the use of charcoal as a soil amendment. It's supposed to help create dark, rich soil because charcoal pieces are too large to be leached out of the soil and it absorbs and holds onto nutrients but slowly releases them as plants need them.

    So I'm thinking of composting my leafy, green waste and then adding charcoal made from the sticks and branches. But I'd love to hear anyone's experiences or thoughts about it.
     
  2. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    Any wood we burn gets the ashes dumped in the compost. Everything else that will break down quickly goes straight into the compost...if you can burn it, then burn it...either way, if it goes into the compost, nothing is wasted.
     

  3. bretthunting

    bretthunting Well-Known Member

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    i tried putting my ashes from my wood burner in the garden and it worked well for a while but after a few years only a few types of plants did well and others did very poorly.i talked to a few garden centers and they believed that i had made my soil to alkline do to to much ash so be careful and not put to much ash to soon.i now compost, and add a little ash to the garden when i till in the fall.
     
  4. rocket

    rocket Well-Known Member

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    Good point. I forgot about ashes changing the soil Ph. But doesn't ash make it more acidic, not alkaline? Either way, I don't think that charcoal does the same thing.
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    wood ash raises the pH, thus making it more alkaline. Good for asparagus in particular, bad for potatos. Charcoal is nothing more than wood transformed by burning it, and would be much similar to ash as it broke down and be alkaline. I have usually tilled in garden residue to the soil and supplemented with some wood ash from burnt logs in the wood furnace. Composting is good to do throughout the growing season (adding green weeds, grass clippings, chicken manure/bedding waste, etc) or family food wastes year round (excluding bones and fats).
     
  6. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Some stuff I burn, some stuff I compost. If it's obviously diseased (like tomato plants) it goes to the burn pile. Other than that, though, I compost everything. I love feeding the pile!

    The way I remember that ash makes things alkaline is that you get lye from wood ash.

    Pony!
     
  7. Charleen

    Charleen www.HarperHillFarm.com Supporter

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    It's not just the benefit of nutrients that compost contributes, but think of all the earthworms and other beneficial insects put to work breaking down the garden waste. Compost has greatly improved the tilth of our soil; we started with clay spots in the gardens.

    We have 2 wood-burning stoves, so yes, the ashes to go out to the garden also, but our 3 compost bins are always busy.
     
  8. george darby

    george darby Well-Known Member

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    we use all our ashes in the garden or the corn fields i dont like to burn anything unless its for heat you would be suprised how large of a brach you can plow under with a moleboard plow and they rarely come back to the surface it is realy hard to raise the % of organic mater in a field , if its large enough it goes to the wood pile if its not it goes to one of the fields i have some acerage so i dont have to pile brush close by it can be scattered to plow under or to break down in the pasture i dont have a chipper yet but its a toy on the list that would speed things up