It’s that time of year. If you’re using a fireplace or a wood burning stove, you will end up with ashes. It’s the end of the log, but not the end of its usefulness. During the burn, the log lost its sulfur and nitrogen as gases, and what remains are the ashes, which are still plant material and an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Using the Ashes Around Your Yard
Spread this natural wood ash fertilizer on your garden beds, your lawn, and your compost bin during the winter months. Be mindful, though, that the carbonates and oxides in the ash act as a liming agent and can raise the pH and neutralize acid soils. Therefore, keep it away from your acid-loving plants, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, and blueberries. It should also not be applied to a bed that will be used to grow potatoes, as this could promote potato scab, an unsightly skin lesion on the potato.
A Word About Potassium
Potassium provides energy for plants to grow properly. It creates sugars and starches, and plays a part in transporting food within the plant. If plants lack potassium, they won’t grow big and strong, but instead will produce weak roots, stems, and stalks. They’re also more vulnerable to anything, including diseases, pests, droughts, and frost.
What a Beautiful Cycle
So, the next time you’re relaxing under the shade of that nice Maple tree, staying cool, think about how many cords of firewood it would provide to keep you warm all winter. Then, think about all the vegetables and fruit trees that will benefit from it, once it has done its cooling job in the summer, heating job in the winter, and then starts working on its growing job in the garden.
Fun Facts about Trees
- Wood is made up of a combination of living, dying, and dead cells.
- Trees never die of old age. Insects, diseases, and people are usually the killers.
- City trees tend to live for an average of 13 years less than country trees.
- Just one tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year and can sequester a ton of CO2 safely by the time it’s 40 years old.
- The Osage Orange tree’s wood generates the most heat when burned.
- Wet wood, unlike dry wood, can conduct electricity.
- Hardwood is denser than softwood, and burns longer, with more heat, as long as it’s properly seasoned.
- Trees get 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10% from soil.
- Trees grow from the top, not the bottom. Watch for 100 years and you’ll notice the branches only move a few inches up the trunk as the tree grows.
- Some trees talk to one another. When willows are threatened by insect pests, they emit a chemical warning to nearby trees, who secrete more tannin to warn the invaders off.
Here are a few more of our yard & garden articles you may enjoy:
- DIY Mason Bee Hotel
- Building a Bird House
- Your Best Garden Buddy – The Earthworm
- Leave the Leaves
- Make a Coconut Birdfeeder
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