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Have a 30 gallon can of wood ash. Need to do something with it. Winter's coming again.  RSS feed

 
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So, last year, I got a 30 gallon steel trash can and filled it up over the winter with ash from our wood furnace. It's been sitting in our garage since then and I need to do something with it as I'm going to end up filling it up again this winter. I've read a couple of threads on this subject, but I'm not making soap and I haven't started my garden yet (hopefully next year. Have tons of room for one). Any suggestions? We moved here a year ago and there are a couple of areas that used to be gardens. One is something like 50'x100'.

Thanks,
Dave
from Maine
 
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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spread it in the area you want the garden to be.

mix it with wood chips and/or leaves to start a compost pile for next year. You will need a dumptruck load sized pile for that many ashes.
 
Dave Candage
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I kind of have a compost pile started. A summer's worth of grass clippings (over an acre of grass). I've never turned it and it hasn't gotten a lot of water.

I don't know what the PH of the soil is. Will spreading it out give me any problems? Will it all wash away before next spring? There's WAAAAYY too much to learn!
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Some will wash and fertilize the lawn. You would have to put them really thick to move the pH too far.

Good excuse to turn the compost pile and water it.

I have a small metal can (maybe 3-5 gallon) that I use and dump them throughout the winter. It gets spread on the driveway when I need to de-ice, on the gardens (that aren't tarped) or in the top-most swale so it will wash downstream onto the property.
 
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Dave Candage : You can should use a metal pail every time to take your ashes from your wood stove away and to a dry safe spot outdoors ! Good! !!!

However, leaving the ashes in the metal pail Bad, the lye in the wood ash is fine as long as it stays dry, but the wood ash actively sucks moisture out of the air,
the lye gets wet and attacks the metal pail, all soap making was done in wooden pails, most of the damage is done by the time you get this ! Your short term
goal here is to investigate the pail for its condition and make a plan where to dump it , an inclosed space with overhead cover and lots of pine spruce tree needles
seems like it would work. A further tip from one who knows conventional fertilizers are hard on metal buckets too ! For the Good of the Crafts! Big AL
 
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Dave
wood ash is really alkaline. I'd be a bit nervous about using it without a soil test or evidence.
here's a few ways:
a) I think even the crappy home test kits will give you an idea.
b) You can often get a pretty good general picture by just googling for regional soil info.
c) Heavy, waterlogged soil is almost always quite acidic, sandy soil in a dry climate is nearly always alkaline
d) Check out the weeds: docks, plantain, buttercups etc favour acid soil. Chickweed, thistles, wild carrots etc prefer alkaline.

If your soil is alkaline and you want to avoid pushing up the ph, you can still use the ashes:
I don't know the science, but as has been mentioned if the ashes get wet they lose their strength.
I know people that tip them onto paths-they seem to be good for weed suppression.

If you decide to use them in the soil,
I've always learned that putting ashes through the compost is by far the best way to make the high levels of phosphorus available.

Ashes make great chicken dust baths, just make sure it's under cover as the ashes go really hard if they get wet.
You can use it to Nixtamalize corn
There's always soap as a winter project
 
Dave Candage
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So, if I want to toss them onto the bed (<... term used loosely. It hasn't been used in years and are overgrown with weeds and grass and packed pretty tight compared to the rest of the yard), should I do anything to it first? I have nothing to put on it and I don't want to dig/plow it. I suppose it won't hurt anything and it may help. At least I'll have the can emptied to fill up again this winter.
 
R Scott
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Exactly. You will want to do any mowing or cutting off the weeds first to keep the dust down, if you are going to. But if not, just put it out and let nature work it in.
 
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