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wood ash in compost?  RSS feed

 
Annah Rachel
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good or bad?
 
Jahnavi Veronica
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Location: Vancouver, WA
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I don't think it's really either good or bad.  From what I've read, it would be better to just add it straight to your soil, not into a compost pile.  I just read in the Humanure Handbook yesterday that it's best to add to the compost pile what the micro-organisms would like to eat, not what your soil wants.  The micro-organisms in your pile don't need or want to eat wood ashes.  My partner and I mix wood ashes with diluted urine and give that to plants, or you could sprinkle it on the soil?
 
Peter Ingot
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Good as long as it is from wood, not from rubbish. Watch what people put in fires when you aren't looking, and be  careful what you use to light the fire. I use pine cones. Coloured paper, candles, parafin, plastics (especially blue plastic) are all possible sources  of heavy metals



wood ash contains (I think) all the minerals that were in the wood except nitrogen which volatilises. It certainly contains a lot of potassium. As ash is soluble I use it to feed the most barren bits of scrub and grass  on our land, which are also the highest parts so hopefully the minerals will wash down. It seems to have dramatically encouraged the growth of legumes in these places which were not there before. I have also used it in the garden. It is alkaline so theoretically a substitute for lime, but I haven't noticed any big response from the vegetables.

It is not organic so I don't compost it (although organic regulations say you should). Compost heaps lose a lot of potassium, (as do vegetable gardens) and soluble mineral fertilisers will very likely end up in the nearest water course if not used carefully. Best around perennial vegetation in the growing season.
 
                              
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I don't put it in the compost because it just sits there and nothing happens to it (you can see it when you empty the bin). I probably would if I was making turning composts again. I do use it in the garden though.
 
Peter Ingot
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Pignut wrote:
Watch what people put in fires when you aren't looking,


Sorry that made no sense at all doh! ops:
 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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But maybe add compost with the wood ash if you have a soil low in organics, since the ash is alkaline, the compost will provide a buffer, and both the biological activity in the compost and its chemical properties will tie up the potassium.

I have not heard about loosing potassium in compost (except if it was exposed to leaching, but that is bad for multiple reasons... I would assume it would become assimilated in the organic complex.  Tell more.
 
Peter Ingot
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Potassium leaches from compost when it is too wet or exposed to rain......but you are clearly an enlightened soul who covers his compost heap so this shouldn't be a big problem for you

Potassium has no organic chemical form, it doesn't get locked up in humus which is why it is so easily leached out of compost . It attaches itself to clay particles so there might  be advantages to adding a little clay to  the ash but it won't really do anything mixed with compost
 
Annah Rachel
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Thanks everyone!
 
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