One of the by-products if heating our farm with wood pellets is the contents of the ash draw.

Wood pellet ash is great for gardeners as it is a good source of lime and potassium and many other trace elements and can be used to enrich your soil. What better way to use a heating by-product than to grow your own vegetables? A win, win for sustainability all round.

However, while the wood pellet ash is great for the garden, you do need to mindful of how much and when you apply it to ensure that the maximum benefit is gained.

Wood pellet ash is alkaline and therefore you do need to be aware of your soil’s pH level and the pH preference of the plants you are growing to ensure that you get the right balance.  For example, use of wood pellet ash on acid loving plants such as azaleas, gardenias and blueberries can be detrimental, so be aware and check your acidity levels regularly.

Wood pellet ash can be added to your garden in a couple of different ways; firstly, it can be added to your compost heap. This works well with your pellet boiler as (depending on the ash content of your wood pellets) you will only need to empty it periodically which will provide you with a regular layer of ash to help reduce the pH of the compost heap as the decomposing materials can become acidic.  The compost can then be added to your garden as a natural fertilizer or green mulch.

Wood AshWood pellets ash used to make a garden mulch.

The second way of applying the ash is directly onto the soil in late winter at a rate of 50-70 g per sq m and then fork or rotavate it in.  Where it is applied regularly such as vegetable gardens, it can be beneficial to monitor the changes in pH to ensure it doesn’t become over acidic. However, wood pellet ash can be particularly useful in vegetable gardens where club root  in brassicas is an issue.

While on the whole wood pellet ash is great for the garden, you do need to be aware that over-use will cause alkalinity. Furthermore, avoid using ash that comes from treated timber or pellets that use binding agents as they may contain harmful residues.  Lastly, avoid using wood pellet ash on areas where potatoes are to be grown the following spring as the alkaline conditions can encourage potato scab.

Finally, an additional benefit to the use of dry wood pellet ash is that if it is sprinkled around the base of plants it will kill slugs and snails and other soft bodied pests.  It is the salts that it contains that make it an effective method of pest control, however, once the ash has become wet you need to refresh it as the salts will have leached out and it will become ineffective.

For more information on booking a family farm stay which doesn’t cost the earth visit us here Oaksbarnfarm.co.uk

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