Did you know that instead of throwing away the ash from your fireplace or wood oven, can you use it to take care of your plants? Ash is very useful for the garden, as is the case with other household materials that we use in gardening. We refer, for example, to ground coffee, green soap, milk, baking soda, vinegar, cayenne pepper and cinnamon.
Depending on the needs of our plants and the amount available, the ash can be applied for the ecological fertilization of trees, flowers and vegetablesfor the improvement of the soil, as well as for the ecological protection of plants.
It is important to mention that the ash we use in our garden is clean of impurities and free of materials such as metal, glass and plastic. And, of course, it does not come from wood that has been painted or treated with chemicals.
In today’s article we will see in detail what ash offers to plants and how we can use it in the garden or on our balcony to care for them and improve the soil.
1. Use the ash as a totally natural fertilizer for your garden
The exact composition of the ash depends on the type of plant it came from, the soil, the burning temperature, as well as the harvest season of the wood. For example, wood cut during the summer months generates ashes richer in potassium and phosphorus.
Burning plant materials at lower temperatures gives us more nutrient-rich ash. In general, ash is rich in nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, sodium and silicon. It also contains trace elements of copper, boron, cobalt, molybdenum, and manganese.
The ash is very useful in crops that need calcium, potassium and phosphorus such as tomato, bean, spinach, pea, garlic, potato, avocado, beet and cereal crops.
It is important to point out that the ash contains a small amount of nitrogen, so in organic farming the addition of ash is combined with the fertilization of legumes or with the incorporation of manure and compost. The appropriate time to incorporate ash into the garden is the winter period, and should be spread on the surface to a depth of 10-20 cm.
2. Ash can be used to condition and improve the soil
Adding ash to the soil makes the soil spongier and improves its aeration, which results in better development of the plant’s root system. The use of ashes can be done in combination with other materials to improve the soil, such as compost, manure, perlite, zeolite and attapulgite.
The ash can also be used to correct problematic acid soils. Acidic soils have a low pH that limits plant growth as they have difficulty absorbing nutrients from the soil.
At the same time, ash has the property of raising the pH of the soil and this greatly helps plants to better absorb various trace elements, such as iron, zinc, boron and magnesium. Therefore, we avoid the use of ashes in acidophilic plants and trees that love acid soils such as gardenia, camellia, hydrangea, fern, azalea, heather, chestnut and oak.
Also, ash should not be placed under any circumstances in soils that are already alkaline because the availability of soil nutrients is further reduced.
3. Ash for phytosanitary
The ash has a wide application in the ecological protection of plants in various ways that we will analyze below and therefore can be used by amateur and professional organic growers.
Ash to repel snails
The ash works as a very good repellent for snails and slugs. Specifically, to protect our plants from snails, ash must be added at a distance of 10 cm around the plant or parallel to the planting line.
Ash to repel insects
We can sprinkle wet plants with ash to repel insects, such as mealybugs, as well as to repel ants. Coating the trunks of fruit trees such as lemon, orange, olive and mandarin trees with an ash paste offers protection against insects and diseasesas well as the strong rays of the sun during the summer season.
Ash for protection in seed storage
Another interesting traditional use of ash in the garden is to save the seeds of our favorite varieties. For this we place our seeds in a jar and then cover them with a layer of ash to protect them from insects, as well as to preserve their germination capacity.
Also, in potato cultivation, cut potato seed can be protected from rot by dusting it with ash on the cut side before planting in the ground.
Ash for weed control
Another traditional use of ash is in the cultivation of onion and garlic cultivation. Specifically, after planting them in the ground, ash must be added superficially which, among other things, helps prevent unwanted weeds from growing.
4. And a secret about the use of ash
The ash can also be used as a material in the compost, since it improves and accelerates the composting process. By placing layers of ash on the compost, we achieve an increase in pH and maintain a balanced environment for the faster growth of microorganisms that contribute to the decomposition of organic materials.