All good gardening starts with the soil and it is important to add organic materials to the soil in order to replenish the nutrients and trace elements growing plants use up. As well as adding food for plants enhancers can improve soil structure or bring some other benefits to the soil and the plants.
Woodash is a useful natural soil enhancer because it contains the mineral Potash in a water-soluble form, which many plants need in order to produce good roots, flowers and fruits. The remains of burn piles from winter pruning, ashes from wood burning stoves or open fires, are valued stuff in any garden. Woodash provides a small but useful source of potash, an alkaline which helps balance acidic soils. Collect woodash before the rains wash out its nutrients and sieve before using it on growing beds and in planting mixes.
Woodash Benefits & Uses
- A top dressing of woodash will darken the soil attracting more heat from the sun and help warm the soil.
- Woodash can be used as a sweetener to reduce the acidity in the soil, a compost pile or potting mix
- A top dressing of woodash benefits the allium family by deterring soil born pests and onion worms
- The potash in wood-ashes is slowly brought down through the soil to the plants as food by rain and irrigation
- A good dressing of woodash worked into the top soil will benefit some crops particularly; beans, onions, garlic, leeks, parsnip and carrots or any plants that will be in the ground for a long time.
- Woodash improves the quality of orchard fruit if spread round the base of fruit trees
- Woodash can be used to make a great liquid plant feed called ‘Black Jack’ see Making Organic Liquid Feeds
- Mix sieved woodash with linseed oil to make Savon Noir , used to spray & kill aphids.
- If you want to sow caorrots thinly mix sieved woodash with the seeds before sowing.
The following instructions come from the wikipedia
“To create potash, take an open-bottomed barrel, and place it on a stone base with a groove cut into it, which will direct the resulting liquid into another container. Then place a layer of straw at the bottom, covered by a layer of sticks. This filter layer will prevent the ashes from contaminating the solution. Then fill the barrel with wood-ashes and pour water over it. The water will leach out the potash into the receptacle. This product will be of variable quality. Historically, it was measured by seeing how high an egg would float in the solution. The liquid may be boiled away to give a black, impure potash.”