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Northamptonshire, United Kingdom Gb

Can someone solve a dispute thats bothering me. A neighbour on the allotments reckons that land underneath a bonfire is more nuitritious and supports better plant life. To my thinking its burnt and without plant nutrients, but she says "No !". We havent fallen out over it, but I cant understand the logic of it.



I presume your neighbour's thinking is that the residue from the bonfire will add nutrients to the soil. The soil around the bonfire area will also be sterile...especially from weed seeds but all bacteria and bugs...both good and bad, will of been killed off although they won't take long to return.

Personally, i would've said it would be more benificial than not and an old bonfire site would be an ideal place to grow plants. My fire ash from the open fire in the living room always goes on the garden.

Obviously you need to make sure the bonfire is actually out before you plant though ;-) lol

18 Nov, 2011


Your neighbour's argument supports the practice of firing large tracts of wild areas. I don't know exactly what it's called - forest management? I've seen its use here and in Canada where an area - for whatever purpose - is carefully burned possibly to eradicate certain infections. The land, as Andy says above, is then sterile but is soon populated by seeds that have survived underground or then blown in and germinated.

18 Nov, 2011


Wild areas are cleared with a 'Slash and Burn' technique, but I can't see any advantage with using this on an allotment. As for cleansing the soil, the heat will not penetrate that deep anyway. The residue of the bonfire may contain a little potash, but this will quickly be lost with the rain and the fact that there is nothing growing there to use it. Unless your neighbour is burning perennial weeds, she will be better off composting it.

18 Nov, 2011


The ash is useful for adding potash for good flowers and fruit, with two caveats - keep it dry until you want to use it or the potash will soon leach out in the rain as Jimmy says, and unless your soil is fairly acid don't put too much on the raspberries as it tends raise the pH.

18 Nov, 2011


Hello! Steragram is right, wood ash contains potash or in other words, potassium, which is very good for flowers and fruit. My parent's generation always put their potash on the garden. Even if the content is low, it will still help. Keep it dry and dig it in anywhere and everywhere, including your compost pile. Will also improve drainage. My query is that I thought potash would lower PH slightly, which raspberries do like - slightly acid that is? My crop was huge this year. Also good for roses but not lime (alkaline) loving plants.

18 Nov, 2011


Avkg47 - the potash from woodash story is quite complicated - you're right in that it must be dry, never have got wet at all to be of any use. And whether it raises or lowers the ph of the soil depends on the ph of the soil you place it on - if the ph is already 6.5, then likely there will be no change to the level - if the ph was, say, 3 or 4, then it may head towards neutral/alkaline after wood ash is applied. But the potash content, and how its formulated, varies depending on what exactly has been burnt to produce the ashes, so its hard to know really. Safer to pop off and buy sulphate of potash to shove round your raspberries - at least you know what you're getting, lol! Use the wood ash by spreading thinly and lightly in various areas on open soil, or letting it get wet and then disposing of it in a similar way.

19 Nov, 2011


Thanks Bamboo

20 Nov, 2011


Interesting Bamboo. My pH is actually 6.5, so perhaps I can stop worrying about it.

21 Nov, 2011

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