Ashes in the GardenFireplace ashes are high is potassium and are an excellent addition to yards and gardens. Fireplace ashes are alkaline and will raise the soil's pH if used continually over many years. Avoid using ashes from wood treated with insecticides.
Ashes of both hard and soft coal are too little appreciated in gardening. They have wonderful effects upon soils of all kinds not so much because of their plant food content (usually only five to ten pounds to the ton) as because of their physical effects. Obviously an application increases the depth of the soil in proportion to the amount added but not so obviously does it increase the bulk! This it does be- cause the ash particles wedge themselves between those of the soil which they keep separated more than when not present.
Bulk increased in this way as well as by adding humus increases the capacity of the soil to hold water and as both ash and humus act like sponges they have the double power of doing this by the wedging to enable the original soil to increase its productive power. These effects are most in clay and other heavy soils which have a tendency to condense.
During winter the ashes may be spread on the snow to the total depth
of an inch. This may be repeated during two or three winters without danger
of applying too much. Before application it is an advantage to dampen
the ashes and pass them over a screen of half inch or smaller mesh
to remove clinkers for these have no value.
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