Benefits of wood ash in the garden

Wood ash is an excellent raw resource that has many benefits and uses.

Below are the benefits of using wood ash in the garden – practical ways of using it for plants and in soil.

  1. Natural Fertiliser
    Plants need a variety of essential nutrients to thrive and grow. Some of these can be found within wood ash.
    Early spring is the best time to use ask in the garden. Preferably when the soil is dry and plant life has not started to grow.
  2. Add to compost
    The addition of small amounts of ashes will make a difference in compost.
    The smell of it becomes a deterrent to wildlife who would otherwise consider the compost a free buffet.
    If you check the middle of the compost before adding it, and again a month later, you should find the center contains greater numbers of worms and insects working hard.
  3. Lime substitute
    You can use it as a substitute for lime, which is used to raise soil pH. It is also good for your grass.
  4. Slug repellant
    Insects like snails and slugs move around underground with greater ease when the soil contains more moisture.
    When the slime and fluid that allows them to easily navigate surfaces absorb, it makes free movement difficult.
    Ashes will soak up moisture when applied to a damp surface, so the theory is that slugs and snails will be repelled from plants and soil treated with it. As a result, they’ll have to look somewhere else for their next meal.
  5. Raises soil pH levels
    The calcium carbonate in ash raises soil pH, which you need to replenish after heavy rain.
  6. Prevents blossom end rot
    Blossom end rot occurs while fruits are still green or when ripening begins and often shows on crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other fruit crops.
    Plants with visible signs of it require higher levels of calcium to prevent the problem from recurring.
    Mixing in some ashes after soil testing could be beneficial in this case as it contains calcium carbonate.
  7. Prevent frost damage
    Certain crops are not ready for harvest until the time is getting close for frost. Depending on the area you live in, early frosts may be a concern.
    If you want to protect your plants and give them the additional time they need to mature, try applying a light dusting of the powdery residue over them.
    The mineral salts in this remedy help lower the freezing point of water without causing additional damage to the plant’s tissues.
  8. Ant repellent
    Many people are looking for non-toxic ways to get rid of ants from their gardens and homes. Ash can help.
    Place a thick layer over the opening to any hills in your yard and garden an near cracks they use to enter the house. Check daily to make sure the holes are still covered. If not, simply reapply.
    The ants will get tired of digging out their hole daily and will move on to easier quarters.

Plants that like wood ashes

Some plants thrive with this amendment to the soil, while others do not do well when the pH of the soil is too high.

Crops like artichokes, cauliflower, chives, and greens like arugula, spinach, lettuce and collard do well with garden ashes.

However, acid-loving plants such as strawberries, radishes, rhubarb, blueberries, onions, potatoes, peppers and parsley will not thank you for your efforts.

When it comes to stunning flower gardens, especially those planted for bees, here are some plants that would not mind a helping hand:

  • Lavender
  • Maltese Cross
  • Phlox
  • Lenten Rose
  • Wild Red Columbine
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Clematis
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Italian Bugloss
  • Foxglove
  • Bearded Iris
  • Autumn Joy

Plants are unable to flourish without certain minerals. When mineral deficiencies exist, plants suffer.

Common signs that your plants are mineral deficient include yellowing and curling of the leaves, stunted growth and eventual death.

Before adding it to plants or the surrounding soil, purchase an inexpensive soil test kit and check the pH.

Do not use it on rhododendrons, marigolds, nasturtiums, azaleas and other flowers that thrive will in acidic soil.

Essential nutrients it contains

Most people would be surprised to learn just how many nutrients are contained in wood ash.

Far from being a waste product that needs disposal, it has true value around the home and garden.

When referring to plants, ashes contain four important and needed minerals:

  • Phosphorous
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

Some soils naturally lack these minerals in abundance, while others need fortification.

Calcium compounds account for a good portion of fire ash. Also found in it are minerals like potassium, sodium, magnesium, aluminium and phosphorus.

In much smaller amounts you will also find copper, boron, sulphur, zinc and molybdenum.

While it seems to have a bit of everything, one item it lacks is nitrogen. Areas that have consistently nitrogen-poor soil, a speciality supplement, or fertilizer could be needed.

Even though this substance is rich in many trace and secondary minerals, geography plays a large part in determining which nutrients your particular type contains.


This powdery residue makes a great addition to your gardening endeavours. However, the type of wood matters, as softwoods do not produce as much of it as hardwoods.

Find a storage spot to keep your firewood ask dry during the winter so there is no nutrient loss. By the time spring arrives, you should have a decent supply set aside to use in and around the garden area.


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