I recently had a large tree removed from my yard and it brought back some memories of my dad and I cutting firewood. Growing up, we heated by wood stove at my house. It was either too cold or too hot most of the time but that is another topic! So, we had a steady supply of wood ashes to dispose of. My dad would just put them in the garden because he thought it would help the vegetables grow. This isn’t really true. Though ashes do contain significant amounts of potash, they contain little phosphate and no nitrogen. Most Kansas soils are naturally high in potash and do not need more. Also, wood ashes will raise the pH of our soils, often a drawback in Kansas where soils tend toward high pH anyway. Plants struggle to grow where the pH is too high. Therefore, wood ashes add little benefit, and may harm, many Kansas soils. In most cases it is best to get rid of them.
By: Scott Eckert, Harvey County Extension Agent, Horticulture