John Richer wrote:Does anyone know what to do with wood ashes? I read some where it is the same as adding lime to your soil. What's it good for?
goes well with sackcloth...
not quite the same as lime, though it has similarities. it does raise pH like lime does, and it's largely calcium carbonate (same as limestone). there's a fair bit of potassium in there, too, and some other odds and ends including heavy metals. it also has in common with lime that over-application can cause troubles. and over-application is pretty easy to do.
other uses include high-temperature insulation (think wood stoves) and soap-making. for soap, water is passed through the ashes to obtain potassium hydroxide, which is then reacted with lipids to make soap. not a quick or easy endeavor.
I dump ashes along with charcoal in a corner of the chicken coop being careful not to send any airborne where it could damage chicken eyes and lungs. the birds chew up the charcoal occasionally, and slowly spread the ashes out into the rest of the bedding. that way it's all nice and composted by the time any earthworms or plants interact with it after I clean out the coop.
I made a thick slurry and put it down in my garden path under wood chips. I was warned so much about over application that I figured I would purposefully over-apply to keep the path clear. It worked well.
John Richer wrote:oops- Looks like I should have searched this topic before posting.. http://www.permies.com/t/6013/homestead/uses-wood-ash thanks for all the great responses! I'm going to figure out a good way to sift out the nails, etc. and then use it for the garden & compost
As I started reading this I was thinking "There's a thread on this somewhere" - glad you found it A big magnet is good for getting out lots of the nails. Someone did tell me that it kills spiders so I no longer scatter it so freely. And just very thin layers in the compost heap - I learned that by bitter experience after dumping loads in mine and mucking up the whole process.
And John, welcome to permies - hope you find lots to talk about here