I always groan when I get this answer, but I have to say "it depends."
What did the ashes come from? How much ash do you have? What kind of soil do you have (clay, loam, sand, sandy loam, etc.) and what's its pH? Will the plants getting the composted ashes like the spike in pH and potassium?
Aggravating, I know. With that info, though, I think I can Google up some possible answers from various state university studies.
Thanks so much, although I dont want to be a burden so if you'd rather not check for me then thats alright. If you dont mind...
The ashes are from obnoxious desert weeds, wood (fence boards, old shake shingles, and trees), leaves, various paper and cardboard. I have a ton of ash literally, a pond size hole was dug in the backyard for the previous owners kids to ride their bikes in so we have been filling it up completely and burning.
I live in the desert, and honestly im not sure what type of soil I have. When I tested its ph it was near a 7.
My garden consists of 4 types of tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, and squash. Im still very new to the whole gardening thing and couldnt tell you if these plants like a spike in ph or more potassium. I give them fish emulsion every few weeks and thats it. I have quite the compost pile going near the garden but its taking its sweet time composting bc its just in a pile on the ground and its very dry here.
So, since half my answers arent really answered I dont blame you for just saying nevermind to this all :) If you do, thanks a million :)
Desert location? Safe bet that you've got sandy soil. Check.
As long as the wood you burned wasn't treated with arsenic or other nasty chemicals, your ashes are nice & safe. I'll check around to see how much wood ash it takes to raise the pH of a given amount of soil by 1. I've been meaning to look this up anyway, since I have a fire pit too.
Tomatoes & peppers are both members of the nightshade family, and they like similar conditions. They tend to be heavy feeders that like good drainage (which you definitely have), so the fish emulsion is great for them. I've never tried to grow squash, but I have books on veggie gardens, so I'll go read up.
I think I know where to look for info on ideal soil pH for toms & peppers, and maybe for squash. I'll let you know what I find.
How big's your compost pile, what's it made with, and how do you keep it moist? I have a sneaking suspicion that you might get more bang for your buck from compost than from ashes.
If it turns out that you have more ash than you need for the veggies, you can always plant ornamentals that love potassium (banana trees come to mind).
We grew bananas in South Florida and one thing we learned - you can never overwater them - which was just as well because although Florida is called the "Sunshine State" it rains A LOT there. Once you tast a home grown banana it is hard to go back to buying them from the store.
The only things I miss about South Florida are all the tropical fruit trees we had in our garden: mangoes, bananas, lychees, logans, carambola, and grapefruit. From neighbors' trees we picked: avocadoes, mulberries, and oranges.
Hmm... I have to keep reminding myself why I left South Florida - could no longer take the high humidy and bugs!
[quote]Eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes grow best in soil with pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Have your soil tested to determine your soilís pH and whether it should be amended. Incorporate well-rotted manure or compost, or a garden fertilizer before transplanting and sidedress after fruiting. Addition of manure or compost can add micronutrients and organic matter to soil.
Too much nitrogen can result in lots of leaf growth and low fruiting.[/quote]
[quote]Fertilizer and lime applications are best based on soil test results. Soil sample bags, forms, and instructions are available from your county Extension office. General recommendations, when using black plastic mulch, would be one pound of actual nitrogen, two pounds of phosphorus (P2O5) and three pounds of potash (K2O) per 1,000 square feet. On bare ground, increase the amount of nitrogen by 25 percent. This would best be done as a sidedress application when vines begin to run. Lime should be applied only if indicated by a soil test so as to maintain a pH between 6.5 and 6.8. [/quote]
Sorry its taken me a few days to get back to you, our poor little one is teething so I have been a bit occupied to say the least. haha! Not sure if your still wondering, but my compost pile is made of grass, leaves, weeds, veggies, and fruit. I just water everyday. Its slowly doing its thing haha!
Banana trees...sigh. Living in the desert sure does make my dream list rather large ;) HONEYBEE NC- your list of trees in your old garden is pretty much my list haha!!
Thanks for those links too. The squash one is especially helpful. Bummer that the ash is a no go, but I guess it works out either way. My dad thinks that shake shingles were treated with some heavy duty stuff, so I guess its better to be safe then sorry.
I really appreciate your researching for me! Thanks again!!
It would be a waste not too, been composting for years and in fact I have 3 neighbors who are composting now. I compost evrything including outdates stuff from the freezer. Problems with maggots?. I put baking soda to deter the smell.. Happy composting. !!! bellie
"Problems with maggots?. I put baking soda to deter the smell.. Happy composting. !!! bellie"
bellie (and others) you shouldn't have maggots in your compost unless you are throwing meat in there which is a definite no-no. Best to only use vegetation.
Googlie, "leaf curl" doesn't necessarily mean disease, it is often an environmental result. However, if it is a disease causing it I'm in the camp that says get rid of it, bag it up and put it elsewhere.
As for using ashes, good idea to nix it since you don't know what was in those shingles. On a good note, regular wood ash from fireplaces and such are fine. You should feel safe using up to a wheelbarrow full per 100 sq ft, tilling it into the soil. Keep in mind, as Puddle Pirate said, you beginning pH. If you're soil is five or six using ashes would be fine (I'd even go with soil that is 6.5 and feel comfortable).
I have 3 composters and one has meats and other stuff from the freezer and after few months they are composted. I then use it in the garden with out any problem. Been doing this for years. Bellie
Bellie, I can only assume you have a tight compost bin, keeping out rodents and such. Although, I must admit, I think nothing of composting fish parts (meat), burying it deeply and it's never been attacked by my local coons, possums, etc. As for red meat, it is so few and far between here I seldom let any go to waste. (*Yummy!)
Shoe (hoping for a nice steak for Fathers Day meal tonight! :>)
All my composters are covered with weight so no animals can get in. They are located way at the back behind the storage shed. I also have a big pile of clippings and and shredded leaves.Dh does not like anything unsightly at5 the back yard. LOL!!! Bellie