Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners

Ashes in the Garden

Fireplace 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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