Wood ashes

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Simple Sam, Dec 7, 2003.

  1. Simple Sam

    Simple Sam Member

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    This is my first year of using a woodstove full time, and I'm amazed at how much ash it produces! I store it in a covered metal can until cooled, and I've been adding it to my compost piles as the can gets full. Does anyone know, 'how much is enough, or too much, I should say, to add to the piles?' I mean, it's only early December, and I will have ashes till spring. I'm worried about making my compost too alkaline or something. Any ideas or help would be appreciated. I mean, I know I can always just bury the ashes in my woods somewhere, but that's a pain...
    Thanks,
    Sam
     
  2. luvbritts

    luvbritts Member

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    Spread them around on your lawn. It will make it thick and green in the spring....
     

  3. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    Leach the lye out of them for soapmaking before scattering them.
     
  4. Ana Bluebird

    Ana Bluebird Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wow, I never have enough ashes. Besides the garden, the compost pile, the flower beds, the chickens love wood ashes to bathe in, it's really good in the barn yard to counter the "fertilizer" that is deposited there. Then if you have more, scatter it anywhere, good for grass, fields, trees, just don't make it too thick. Ask your neighbors if they want some.
     
  5. Don't put it in compost you're going to use around potato plants, though. Wood ashes cause the potatoes to get scabs.
    If you have an outhouse, dump the ashes into the holes once in awhile and add a little water to dissolve the material.
     
  6. Swampdweller

    Swampdweller Well-Known Member

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    Never put wood ash or lime into your compost pile. Alkaline material drives nitrogen off into the atmosphere. Also, never spread compost and ash/lime at the same time. Till compost in during spring, ash/lime in during the fall to be sure no nitrogen is unnecessarily lost.

    Do spread wood ash around your fruit trees and bushes. Legumes also benefit greatly from ash or lime.

    Swampdweller
     
  7. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Do we love wood ashes......let me count the ways!!! :haha:

    Chickens, leeching for lye, orchard, flower beds.......my daylilies absolutely love to be dusted all winter and I have some of the prettiest daylilies.

    Never too many ashes!!!
     
  8. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    How do you leach the lye out of it?
     
  9. Simple Sam

    Simple Sam Member

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    OK guys, thanks ya'll for your replies. Although I'm still a bit confused since Swampdweller says to never apply the ash to the compost pile! Does the nitrogen problem not occur when you apply the ashes to lawns, orchards and lillies too?
    Sorry to keep this thread going, but I have gardening books that I swear by, that tell me that applying the ashes to the compost is a good thing. Others feel that you can never apply too much of it. Maybe the answer is 'apply freely EXCEPT to a compost pile"?
    Still wondering fer sure,
    Sam
     
  10. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    If you had very acidic soil, ashes would help balance it, if you have very alkaline soil, ashes could push it too far (as in the potatoes) plants that like alkaline soil like ashes, but plants that like acid soil (such as blueberries) don't like it.

    So, it all depends on what you are growing, if it is good or your compost or not, and thus good for your plants or not.

    P.S. It is good for threads to go as long as someone is interested, so no apology needed.
     
  11. Swampdweller

    Swampdweller Well-Known Member

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    You got it.....
     
  12. Deena in GA

    Deena in GA Well-Known Member

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    We've been spreading our ashes directly onto the garden plot for years now. Haven't had any problem with it. I did ask my brother who is a master gardener whether it would be harmful or not and he said we would have to dump massive amounts, much more than could be produced by one family's heater, to be harmful.
     
  13. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    "How do you leach the lye out of it?"

    Lye can only be produced from hardwood ashes. Old timers built a V trough with the bottom sealed except for a hole at one end and it was lower at that end. Ashes would be put in it and kept moistened to where water would just drip from them. What drips out will have a high lye content.

    If you burn egg shells in your wood stove they will help add calcium to the ashes.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  14. Swampdweller

    Swampdweller Well-Known Member

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    "If you burn egg shells in your wood stove they will help add calcium to the ashes."

    True. However, we give the shells back to the birds. They need the calcium put back into their cycle. We had trouble with eggshells in the chicken feed tempting the birds to peck the whole eggs in the nest. Now we crush the shells to grit so that the birds don't recognize them.
     
  15. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    How do you use the ashes for the chickens? Give then a little pile of sifted ashes to bathe in?
     
  16. myark

    myark Active Member

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    After you're certain no live coals are left, pour a line (about 4 inches wide and half inch deep) around your house or garden to help control slugs. Works very well.