Posts tagged "bonfire"

Perk up your garden with ash from Bonfire Night fires

Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night in the UK – also known as Bonfire Night. Up and down the country, people will be setting fire to stacks of wood and sending millions of £££s up in smoke in firework form, just getting a short “ooh” and “aah” (and occasionally “arrgh!!”) in return.

It’s not all waste-waste-waste though – tomorrow morning, you’ll probably have a substantial pile of ashes left over from your bonfire – and they’re great for the garden:

Ash can be a slug deterrent

The dry, rough surface of ash particles can act as a deterrent for slugs and snails. Chances are, you’re not growing much at the moment but you can scoop up the ash into a bucket, cover it/keep it somewhere dry so it doesn’t get wet over winter, then bring it out again for use next spring for use around your delicate seedlings.

It also has the advantage of being…

A word of warning
If your bonfire contained a lot of painted, varnished or chemically treated wood, or included plastic waste, don’t use it on your garden – the chemicals may contaminate your soil.

A soil neutraliser & fertiliser

Wood ash is alkaline so can help level out acid soils – some people dig it straight into their beds at this time of year so it will start to break down over winter while others cycle it through their compost bins first.

It’s also great for balancing “green”-heavy compost heaps (for example, those which contain a lot of fresh green garden matter, scraps or manure – things that are said to be “nitrogen rich”). Balanced compost heaps rot down quicker and produce better compost in the long run.

As well as a neutraliser, wood ash from bonfires is often also rich in calcium and potassium, so help fertilise the soil as well as neutralise it.

How can I reuse or recycle bonfire ashes?

Ashes of a fireIt’s Guy Fawkes Night in the UK today and so all over the country people will be eating toffee apples, warming their hands on the glow of a bonfire and making things go BOOM.

I’m not a great fan of Bonfire Night – I don’t like apples, I have a (what I consider to be healthy) fear of fire and we’ve had fireworks going off on our estate for the last month (mostly in daylight… I … don’t understand) so the novelty has somewhat worn off – but most people seem to dig it so come tomorrow morning there will be lots of left over ashes in gardens up and down the land.

So what can you do with them?

If you’re reasonably sure the wood (etc) burned in the fire was untreated/unpainted then the ashes can be composted – but too many will turn the heap too alkaline. It can also be used as a fertiliser – but with the same precaution.

Any other ideas?

(Photo by ma_makki)