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Excerpt from page 7-8 - Wood Ashes
Unless you heat a large house with wood, it's hard to generate enough wood ashes. When I first learned of the value of ashes, I gathered every piece of dry wood I could find on our property and made a little bonfire. I was dismayed at the small heap of ashes that resulted.
But it's worth some trouble to get them. Ashes provide potash and phosphorus to the garden and their texture helps keep clay loose. The usual application is about 5 to 10 pounds of ashes per 100 square feet of garden, applied well before planting time. Spreading ashes in the fall works well, but most of us need a winter of burning to acquire any significant volume, which means we have to spread them in early spring.
Wood ashes will also help sweeten the soil, though the effect is much slower than with limestone. It's important to keep wood ashes covered and dry until you use them because rain leaches out the nutrients. Also, don't use wood ashes where new seeds are germinating or young plants are just putting out roots, nor should you spread them in areas where acid-loving plants grow.
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