Webs, weeds and wisdom: Out of the fire and into the garden with uses for wood ash | August 9

Lisa Walmsley.

Lisa Walmsley.

All of us with wood fires and wood-burning stoves know the perils of dealing with the ash in the winter. 

When you clean out the ash, don't just throw it away, as that powdery residue left when combustible material is thoroughly burned is a natural and valuable resource.

There are a number of ways to use it productively in the garden.

(1) Ash strengthens plants that love calcium, which include tomatoes, vineyards, beans, spinach, peas, garlic and roses.

Spread handfuls around your veg garden and add a quarter of a cupful when planting.

Please note, however, that potatoes do not thrive with ash.

(2) One tablespoon of ash per/1000 litres of water, strengthens underwater plants.

(3) I have read, but not tested, that it helps prevent plant frost bite in winter if you add a layer of ash over them 

(4) Ash is also a brilliant deterrent for various insects and various parasites, such as slugs and snails.

Ants cannot tolerate ash, so a few handfuls of ash over a nest or in pavers will send them on their way.

If you are having trouble in your garden with mice, rats and/or possums, try a few handfuls of ash in spots where you find evidence of their activity.

And (5): Ash recycles its natural nutrients back into the soil.

It can be used as compost, although it doesn't contain nitrogen.

Ash will neutralise the pH of the soil, aiding in plant growth.

- LISA WALMSLEY (pictured)