Well all the snow is gone now from the fields but it’s still there on the mountains in Snowdonia. Makes you cold just looking at them! I’m not getting much done outside except for the odd trip to the compost bin. Even that’s not doing much in this weather.
Smokeless Fuel Ash & Wood Ash
One thing I am adding is the ash from our multi-fuel stove. Basically it’s a mix of wood ash and a small amount of smokeless fuel ash. Now I’ve done a little research on this subject and this is what I’ve found out.
The official line on adding coal or smokeless fuel ash to the garden and particularly the vegetable plot, is don’t do it. Apparently the ash can contain trace elements of arsenic and metals such as cadmium, iron, lead, zinc, aluminium and so forth.
Official Line versus Reality
Now this brings us to the ‘official line’ versus reality. If I was a scientist or the representative of the solid fuel association, I’d take the safe line that it’s not good for the garden. That way, nobody sues me and I can’t be blamed.
Now in reality, the soil already contains traces of those elements and should do so. A little zinc or iron is needed by plants and by us for that matter. However, too much of anything is a problem and can be dangerous.
So will a small amount of coal ashes cause a problem in the garden?
I’ve found a reference to a scientist who says not but refuses to be quoted (it’s that blame game again) and my feeling is that he’s right. We have had a couple of mainly coal fires and the ashes from those were used to grit the path. Very effective they were too. My Grandad used soot on his onion bed and soil, ashes to lighten and break up clay and it didn’t seem to do him or the family any harm.
Our normal wood and bit of coal ash, is going into the compost bin. Wood ash is definitely safe and good for everything from trees to tomatoes. That assumes the wood was ‘clean’ i.e. untreated or not painted. It can go directly around fruit trees or be stored in an air-tight tin until needed for the tomatoes.
Adding it to the compost is just more convenient and hopefully the nutrients contained in it will still be available when required next year.
They refused my repeated offers of payment or at least a contribution to their petrol costs for transporting it and we unloaded half a pick-up truck round to the cow shed. Some is a little damp, but it’s drying out. Incidentally, there’s a big difference between dry timber that has gotten damp and unseasoned timber that still contains high levels of sap and moisture. Even damp ‘dry’ timber will burn far better than unseasoned timber.
Most of wood is clean, there are a few bits of painted or stained wood. Some of it is actually good enough to use for something. That’s the allotment attitude in me coming out. See a skip? Dive into it as there’s bound to be something useful. Even old net curtains make good horticultural fleece in an emergency.
Missing the Allotment
Had an email from Crewe the other day from a chap asking about the allotment association there. Must admit it made me realise I’m missing the allotment. Not so much the actual plot as the people on the site.
Mind you, this is a depressing time of year. You get up and it’s dark and you’ve hardly finished lunch and it’s going dark again. Not long to the winter solstice now, the shortest day, on the 21st December and then the days will slowly lengthen again.