Seasonal Gardening: Wood Ashes, Christmas Tree Thieves and Organic Deer Repellent

The Seasons of the Garden column shares seasonal gardening news briefs on wood ashes for plant nutrition, keeping Christmas tree thieves out of your garden and an organic deer repellent using deodorant soap.

| November/December 1985

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    Frase's data indicate that the manner in which wood ashes are used in gardens should be based on the kinds of ashes available and on the pH of the soil.

  • 096-118-01

The Seasons of the Garden column shares seasonal gardening information and tips with MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers, including wood ashes for plant nutrition, deterring Christmas tree thieves from the garden and an organic deer repellent.  

Wood Ashes in the Garden

It has long been thought that wood ashes are a good source of potassium for plant nutrition, but recent research has shown that you should use a great deal of caution in adding them to your garden.

Charles Frase, of Tennessee Technological University, analyzed ashes from seven tree species for potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sodium; he also estimated the extent to which the ashes could raise soil pH. His results show that ashes of various tree species can differ widely in their mineral content.

For example, shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) and white oak (Quercus alba) ashes have much less potassium (K) and phosphorus (P) than does hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ), while ashes of white ash (Fraxinus americana) and silver maple (Acer saccharinum) have intermediate levels of K and P. On the other hand, the shagbark hickory and white oak ashes have the same liming potential—pound for pound—as high-quality ground limestone!

Frase's data indicate that the manner in which wood ashes are used in gardens should be based on the kinds of ashes available and on the pH of the soil. Although detailed information about the mineral composition of most tree species is not available, some tentative generalizations can be made.

It appears that slow-growing, dense hardwoods yield ashes that are best used as liming materials. Based on Frase's research, such ashes can be expected to contain about 2% K, 0.3% P, and 30% calcium (Ca). Their soil-neutralizing value relative to pure calcite (NV/CaC03 ) should approximate 100%.

Lucinda Rath iii_2
1/12/2010 10:44:52 AM

I use wood ash that I buy on amazon for melting ice and it works just right for me. The sun melts the snow way waster where I sprinkle ashes. This way I protect my shoes, my animals paws, and prevent an early rust on my car. You can get 10 pounds for 29.95 plus shipping. 10 Pounds of Oak Wood Ash (Environmentally Earth Eco-friendly Ice Melt Snow Melter, Anti/de-icing, Salt Replacement, Change Ph Levels in Soil, Natural Fertilizer, Control Pond Algae, Organic Tomato Plants, Compost, Make Soap, Shine Silver)

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