We all enjoy burning wood in our fireplaces, but what do you do with all the ashes? Many of our customers ask for the ashes we collected from sweeping their chimney so they can use the ashes in their gardens. But it’s amazing how many other practical uses around the house and garden there are.
Ashes are extremely beneficial in a vegetable garden. Tomato plants benefit the most from ash-mixed soil but never use ashes on the soil where potatoes are grown because the potatoes may get “potato scab,” creating lesions on the skin of the potatoes. Fruit trees, root vegetables, bulbs, and annual perennials also benefit from wood ash. Keep the ashes away from acid-loving plants like blueberries, rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas, junipers and conifers.
The ashes used for gardening should only be used from wood and not from burning other materials like coal, paper, cardboard or painted/treated wood. Don’t ever use the ashes from prefabricated logs, such as Duraflame, due to the extra chemicals in these products.
If you have any questions about the use of wood ash for gardening, contact a gardening expert so that you don’t make a mistake and over-ash your garden or lawn.
Enrich compost by sprinkling fireplace and wood stove ash between each layer to enhance the nutrients. Don’t put in too much ash or it will ruin the mix. The ash is used to keep the compost in a neutral condition to break down the organic materials but a little bit of ash goes a long way.
Fireplace ashes repel snails and slugs because it draws the water out of these insects. Sprinkle around the base of the plants to act as a repellant but note that once the ash gets wet, it loses the ability to repel the pests. Adding too much ash in this case may also increase pH levels too high which will be harmful to the plants.
Other beneficial uses for fireplace ashes
In addition to fireplace ashes being used in gardens, lawns and composting containers, ashes have a myriad of other uses, such as “deskunking” a pet, shining up your silver, controlling pond algae, melting ice, hiding stains on pavement, cleaning the glass on fireplace doors, and even making soap.
If you don’t have a garden or lawn, be sure to safely dispose of your ashes by placing them in a covered metal container away from the house and never place the metal container on a wood deck or patio while the ashes are still warm.
So in the future, put those ashes to good use!