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Wood ash and charcoal from stove what next. Help ???  RSS feed

 
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     Hi there
I have  been reading up on the benifits of wood ash on the acid soil , ours is acid here.
So we,ve never saved any till now , two years on and we,ve been scattering it about the vegetable beds . Now i,m thinking if i seperate the ash from the wood charcoal thats also left over what do i do with the charcoal pieces . Are they of any use anywhere else ? other than cave dwelling artist tools for drawing !!!.
I,m thinking of bagging the fine ash now and holding fire, no pun intended,  on the liberal scattering on the vege plots . I wish to clear other land for use in vege growing , at the moment its bush scrub land and thinking of saving the wood ash for that use if the soil is acid .
     Anyone here have any pointers please
    
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Hi Malcolm.

I would suggest you refer to your soil test. If you haven't gotten one yet, that really should be your first step.

There is far more to soil than its pH. A soil test will tell you that, and having that information will also help those of us on this site make suggestions better suited to your situation.

As to the wood ash, do be aware that this is the same stuff that was leached to produce lye for soapmaking. You want to be careful, if storing it in quantity, to make sure it's not going to get wet and leach into something you'd rather not have soaked in lye.

The charcoal is something else. If you were making biochar, I would inspect the little pieces to check the porosity, especially if I had a microscope or suitably powerful hand magnifier. If they don't smell, and/or if they clink almost musically when you knock pieces together, you could probably put those pieces, whole or crushed, in a healthy, active compost pile, where they will act as little mobile homes for soil microbiota.

Bryant RedHawk has no fewer than two excellent threads on soil building and soil science on this site. If you have some time, read over them. They are a wealth of information, but presented in a very comprehensible manner.

So let us know how it goes. Good luck!

-CK
 
pollinator
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Location: Maine, zone 5
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Hi Malcolm.  Yeah, the charcoal is very desirable in your garden.  Look up Biochar to find out a lot more.  I would suggest that you add the charcoal to your compost pile mix for better results, but if you just spread it along with the ash that's ok too.  I add several cubic yards of Biochar to my gardens every year, mostly either through adding it to my compost piles at about 20% of the pile volume or else spread thinly onto the ground before sheet mulching over it. 
 
Malcolm Thomas
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Thanks for the info i will look into the suggestions.
 
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If you are trying to produce charcoal, that's fine. If you are trying to heat your house, charcoal is the result of the incomplete burning of the wood in your stove. You might want to adjust your wood burning in the stove so it burns everything and leaves just ash. If you keep producing charcoal, depending on its type and quality, you could also keep it for possible use for blacksmithing.
 
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Chris Kott wrote:Hi Malcolm.

The charcoal is something else. If you were making biochar, I would inspect the little pieces to check the porosity, especially if I had a microscope or suitably powerful hand magnifier. If they don't smell, and/or if they clink almost musically when you knock pieces together, you could probably put those pieces, whole or crushed, in a healthy, active compost pile, where they will act as little mobile homes for soil microbiota.
-CK



Even poorly charred charcoal is safe to be added to the soil. It may not be as effective as well made biochar, but given a few years I find roots colonising even partly charred timbers. Since seeing that I have decided not to over think biochar. If it is black, and made from clean wood, it goes in the garden (usually via a few months in the compost).
 
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You could sift the ashes apart from the charcoal. The ashes mixed with urine and diluted with tap water is good for acidic soil and will increase the ph while adding nitrogen. You can crush the charcoal as you would biochar and mix it into your compost pile.
 
Malcolm Thomas
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Thanks for the info and advice .
Well we mainly burn dry pine and some oak with a bit of beech as well as dry scrub wood , most times theres only ash left over .
I have some acid alkaline test strips and i did the urine water mix and the colour of the strip went very acid color , then i added the ash dust and it swung it to alkaline colour so i know the ash addition works well .
The rainfall here is quite heavy at times in winter , in summer its almost always sunny . So the soil has leached the alkaline content out and summer dries out the soil.

 
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