Ashes to...?
February 26, 2012 5:18 PM   Subscribe

What is best to do about a large pile of wood ashes in the corner of my yard?

I bought a house (ohgodohgodohgod) in August. The previous owners heated with wood heat, and left a large pile of wood ashes in one corner of the back yard. The pile is probably 2'+x2'+, and about knee high. What should I do about these?

I've read that you can spread them on your yard to fertilize it, but I have a small yard and don't know how thin is thin enough for that. I have a tumbling composter, but probably way too much ash to add to it. Is my best choice going to be to shovel the ashes into a trash bag and throw them away? If it is, how far down is the soil likely to be affected and how, and what should I do about it? I'd like to be able to plant things in that corner soon.
posted by dilettante to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Make lye for soap?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:30 PM on February 26, 2012

Do you have a co-op or farmers' market nearby? Post a notice on the community board and someone will want it. Someone reading your local craigslist, freecycle, etc. will want it too.
posted by headnsouth at 5:40 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Right--headnsouth is weirdly totally right. We had a similar dilemma at one time, was also told to post to our local city freecycle and some one was there inside of an hour. Ours were even all wet and leafy.
posted by rumposinc at 5:53 PM on February 26, 2012

Keep it and use it for fertilizer over time. Add to the compost, mix into beds etc. it is a great fertilizer!
posted by fshgrl at 6:26 PM on February 26, 2012

I've been told not to fertilize food gardens with wood ash because trees draw toxins from the deep soil and those toxins become concentrated in the ash.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:39 PM on February 26, 2012

Do you have oak trees? Their lifestyle was dependent on forest fires keeping the soil alkali, and in its absence adding wood ash helps them a lot. I scatter it around inside the dripline, and throw it on the trunk, and my special oak has thrived ever since.
posted by anadem at 7:43 PM on February 26, 2012

I've also heard not to use ash too much in gardens. The two reasons I was given was that since it was completely burned, ash had very little to offer in terns of nutrients, and it is also very alkaline, and can throw off your soil's pH.
My suggestion would be to put a little in your compost, then figure out how to slowly throw out the rest.
posted by Gilbert at 10:35 PM on February 26, 2012

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