Ask a Question forum: Is wood ash okay for clay soil.

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Name: Julie
Strasburg, CO (Zone 5a)
I live on the eastern plains of CO.
jftengel
Aug 20, 2015 2:29 PM CST
I live in CO and our soil here is very clayie! We also have a wood stove for the winter so we have a lot of wood ash. I like to spread it around our yard in the compost and garden area. My husband says that clay soils don't need wood ash and that I should throw it away. What do you think?
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 20, 2015 3:05 PM CST
Wood ashes are alkaline, so have a "liming" effect. My understanding is that CO soils are often already alkaline in which case it may not be a good idea to add to that, especially if you wish to grow plants that don't do well when the soil pH gets too high for them. It would also depend on how much you use - it is harder to change the pH of clay compared to sand so would require a larger amount. Do you have any problems with plant leaves turning yellowish while the veins stay green? I don't think wood ashes would do much if anything to improve the structure of clay, usually compost is the best thing for that.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
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Shadegardener
Aug 20, 2015 3:37 PM CST
Wood ash in any quantity is not necessarily a good thing (although I hear that some veggies like it). It's not a matter of breaking up clay as it is about pH getting too high. Just a little bit is all that's needed if a soil test indicates you need to raise pH. You could add it to a compost pile but only if it's a large pile.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Aug 20, 2015 3:58 PM CST
Moderation is what I aim for, from the widest variety of materials possible. Too much of any 1 thing could be detrimental, but hardly anything would be harmful if spread around in trace amounts though, over time, if it's something of an extreme PH and is used alone repeatedly, results could eventually be disappointing.

Whatever organic matter your home/property generates can be composted, either in a pile or bin, or by other methods, or spread around as you described regarding the ashes. A well-varied mix of organic matter will help dramatically improve any kind of soil, from clay to sand, adding tilth and fertility, moderating moisture levels. Any plant can only be as good as the soil in which it is growing, so whatever one can do to improve it is worthwhile, very rewarding. Don't think you will always have clay soil if you want to change it to "black gold" garden soil.

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http://permaculturenews.org/2013/09/20/soil-not-dirt-dr-elai...

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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Aug 20, 2015 7:48 PM CST
Simple, to the point, and from a reputable source:
https://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/woodash.html
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Aug 21, 2015 6:26 AM CST
I'm late to the party and see that your question has already been answered.
So what to do with the wood ashes? If you burn only hardwood, you can use the ashes to make soap.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/ho...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"

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