Wood ash use

Credit: Abel Leas/iStock

Q: I have a couple of buckets of wood ash from my fireplace, in Victoria. What can I put it on? I have a vegetable patch, many fruit trees, raspberries, vines and lawns. I know that it should not go on potatoes, blueberries, azelias. I don’t know my soil pH levels, and don’t know how to find out.

Wood ash is not a good soil additive unless you absolutely can tell a few things about the soil in the first place:

1) What is the source of wood ash? does it have any preservatives such as copper, arsenic or other products in it?
2) What is the pH of the soil you wish to add it to?
3) Is the soil depleted in things such as potash and other elements?
4) Is the wood all one source such as apple, maple or is it a mix of species.

Remember what we call a cedar here in the PNW is toxic to all plants. ( I really wish we would not call it a cedar!!) The prudent thing to do is to get a soil test done in the first place. A home soil kit for the 3 basic elements can run as little as $7.00 for a one time test to about $40 for a 10 test kit. That will tell you if there is a deficiency. Unless you have been intensively cropping the area with several years of heavy feeding plants, corn potassium and phosphorus will never be depleted in a normal garden bed. It would be silly to add more of what is not needed. The soil test will tell you what is deficient. If you need a good soil test done for minor nutrients as well as macro nutrients then the best place is:

Norwest Labs (soil elemental analysis only)
#104, 19575 – 55A Avenue, Surrey, BC V3S 8P8
Phone: (604) 514-3322 Fax: (604) 514-3323

Only after that would you add nutrients to the soils. Then there are better products for adding nutrients to the soil such as Gaia Green Products, Welcome Harvest Farms and Gardenworks fertilizers.

The wood ash is most probably best consigned to the recycling bags