Is Wood Ash Good For Fruit Trees?
In previous articles, we tackled wood ash, with regards to several things, such as the garden, the grass, and roses. In all these articles, wood ash has come out as a vital element that can be of positive impact to you, your soil and garden, and your roses and lawn. Caution has also been advised in each case, as the results can also be detrimental.
In this article, we seek to uncover the relationship between wood ash and fruit trees. Like in these part articles, some fruit trees could benefit from wood ash and some simply do not like wood ash at all. This article has all the details.
- Can Wood Ashes Be Put Around Fruit Trees?
- Benefits of Wood Ash For Fruit Trees
- Which Type of Fruit Trees Like Wood Ashes?
- Is Wood Ash Good For Tomatoes?
- Does Wood Ash Kill Weeds?
Can Wood Ashes Be Put Around Fruit Trees?
Absolutely, wood ash can be put around fruit trees. Wood ash is a perfect addition to fruit trees, because of its properties. For starters, wood ash contains about 3% of potassium. Potassium is a major plant nutrient associated with flowering and fruiting.
The potassium levels may vary, depending on the type of wood that was burnt, with young wood having a higher potassium content than older and thicker branches. Aside from healthy flowering and fruiting, potassium is also vital to fruit trees as it helps with the development of strong roots.
Secondly, wood ash provides an alkaline environment. Especially when composted, the resulting alkaline compost can be used as a mulch around some fruits, ornamental plants and vegetables. Most fruit trees can benefit from a little sprinkle of wood ash. They include fruits such as dessert apples, redcurrants, gooseberries, cooking apples, pears, raspberries, blackberries, citrus trees, strawberries, plums, apricots, cherries and blackcurrants.
Most of these fruits and others can benefit from the nutrients contained in the wood ash, without much concern for soil alkalinity. Research has affirmed that recycling wood ash is safe and practical when it comes to tending to fruit trees and other plants. While it only performs just as well as lime in higher quantities, research argues that wood ash “can increase plant growth up to 45% over traditional limestone.”
However, most fruits and fruit trees do not appreciate an alkaline environment and would fair poorly when wood ash is added in larger amounts. The majority of them prefer slightly acidic to neutral soils or at most moderately alkaline. Apples, peaches, pears and citrus trees thrive in slightly acidic to neutral pH levels.
Other fruit trees such as cherries and plums, however, grow best in a pH range from slightly acidic to moderately alkaline. Therefore, if you are to test the soil’s pH and find that it is overly acidic, wood ash would be great to alter the pH and make it less acidic, or neutral, providing the best soils for most of these fruits.
You should also avoid ashes from chemically-modified wood, pressure-treated wood, painted wood, stained wood, bonfires or fires that had trash, coal, or cardboards introduced. This is because these chemically-modified woods or trash, contain chemicals that will leech into the ash and subsequently into the garden.
Your soils and fruit trees will therefore be affected and even poisoned. Using tainted ash to treat your soil might actually do more harm than good to any plant there. Wood ash is readily available and can naturally, easily and conveniently be sourced, serving as the proper alternative to lime.
Benefits of Wood Ash For Fruit Trees
1. Regulating the Soil’s pH
wood ash is incredibly high in calcium carbonate, an essential too in regulating the pH of the soil. Being an alkaline substance, wood ash can therefore be used effortlessly to craft the perfect conditions for growing fruit trees. With that said, it is important to note that many kinds of fruit trees prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil levels.
Most plants grow best and are healthiest when their soil conditions fall somewhere between 6.0 and 7.5 on the scale–meaning slightly acidic to neutral–and fruit trees are no different. As such, if your soils call for a slightly alkaline environment, use wood ash to achieve the same.
Also, if your soil is too acidic, you can similarly use wood ash to change the situation and provide a more neutral or slightly less acidic environment for your crops and fruit trees in particular
2. Providing Nutrients as Fertilizer
Wood ash is also full of macronutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, all of which are essential to the growth and vigor of trees, as well as their overall well-being. Less vital but equally as beneficial to fruit trees, the micronutrients boron, chromium, molybdenum, and zinc found in wood ash help to ensure proper growth and higher yields
3. An Affordable Substitute to Lime
You’ll find in most times, lime being used to alter the pH levels of the soil. Both lime and wood ash, as previously noted, offer the same results with regards to altering the pH of the soil, to a more alkaline condition.
Wood ash is especially better than lime because it is widely available in most homes, making it a more affordable option. However, you will be forced to use nearly double the amount of ash in comparison to lime, to achieve the same effect. Regardless, the soil becomes more alkaline with the use.
4. Killing Pests and Eradicating Diseases
It is a common practice to sprinkle wood ash around vegetable crops to ward off pests. Fortunately, the same can be done for fruit trees to provide a similar result. The salt in the wood ash kills bothersome pests like snails, slugs and some kinds of soft-bodied invertebrates.
It also acts as a physical poison usually causing abrasion of epicuticular waxes and thus exposing pests to death through desiccation. Additionally, the wood ash interferes with the chemical signals emanating from the host plants thus obstructing the initial host location by pests.
The treated foliage further becomes unpalatable for foliage feeders like cutworms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and others. Using ash for pest control can go a long way in ensuring you have a fruitful harvest.
You might want to have your soils stay moist especially during the dry seasons. The most effective way to doing this is by mulching, which allows for the slow release of nutrients into the soil, as well as the prevention of evaporation of the moisture around the fruit tree.
You can easily use wood ash to mulch your garden plants and fruit trees without worries. However, avoid using ash for plants, such as raspberries and blueberries, which thrive in acidic soil.
6. Adding to the Compost Heap
If you love to compost, then this is for you. Whenever you compost a lot of fruits, the resulting compost is quite acidic and wood ash would be the best to reduce the acidity of the compost. Using the ash moderately will not immediately change the pH of the compost and will also not adversely affect the bacteria and worms.
It will therefore not affect fruit trees that thrive in acidic conditions. Just sprinkle some ash on every layer of the compost to ensure the acidity reduces just a bit. If you use the compost while it is dry and confirming that the soil and its pH require the compost, would do wonders to root vegetables, beans, peas and fruit trees like the apple tree.
Which Type of Fruit Trees Like Wood Ashes?
Almost all fruit trees can benefit from wood ashes. This is because with soil use, the soil might become more acidic and wood ash will be beneficial in slightly altering the pH of the soil. The list below shows fruit trees that thrive well in:
1. Slightly acidic to moderately alkaline pH levels
These are trees that can benefit from the changing of the pH levels if the soil was overly acidic. Fruit trees like cherries, plums and stone-fruit trees are best suited for these types of soils. They would therefore appreciate a dash of wood as fertilizer, for the provision of the optimum soil pH levels, as well as the nutrients in the wood ash.
2. Slightly acidic to neutral pH levels
These are fruit trees that cannot stand an alkaline condition and the use of the wood ash, apart from providing the requisite nutrients, would be to slightly alter the pH of the soil to slightly acidic or neutral. They include apples, citrus trees, peaches and pear trees. As such, if your soil is highly acidic, use the wood ash fertilizer in sparse amounts or not at all to achieve the necessary changes
3. Alkaline pH levels
Few fruit trees like alkaline soils. Figs are the most widely known fruit tree that thrives in alkaline soils, not because they prefer it, but because they have a higher tolerance.
4. Do Not Use Wood Ash On
You should never use or spread ashes around blueberries, strawberries, and holly fruits, as well as other plants or crops like azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, potatoes or parsley. These are acid-loving plants and cannot survive in the conditions created by wood ash in the soil
Is Wood Ash Good For Tomatoes?
Yes, wood ash is perfectly good for tomatoes. In fact, they love potassium, which is present in wood ashes. You can opt to either compost it first or spread it at the base of the tomato tree. However, the best way to feed wood ashes to tomatoes is by making ‘tea’ for the plants.
Put about 5 pounds of ashes in a permeable cloth or burlap bag, tie it shut and lower it into a 50-gallon garbage can filled with water as if it were a giant teabag. Let this sit for about four days, then dip the tea out with a watering can and pour a cupful around your tomato plants once a week, as soon as the plants begin to flower. This boost in potassium is beneficial to most crops but tomatoes especially, love it.
Does Wood Ash Kill Weeds?
Surprisingly, wood ashes can be used to kill weeds. In as much as wood ashes have been found effective in helping crops grow, they can also be used to tame one of the crops’ worst enemies, weeds. Too much wood ash has been found to change the pH of the soil to more alkaline. You can do this too to kill the plants living in the soil, including the weeds.
Unfortunately, if you have used too much wood ash to kill weeds, you might inadvertently make your garden barren, and as such, use the wood ash cautiously. To use the ash to kill weeds, pour a deep layer of the ash in spots where you want to inhibit weed growth, but do not mix it. This works great in places such as alongside structural walls or rock walls. It is a very effective way of using the ash, but remember to use just enough of it.