The Benefits of Wood Ash in Your Garden and Compost

Bonfires are a salient way to get rid of perennial weeds, grass, diseased leaves, and twigs and branches that are too thick to put through a wood chipper. You can easily get rid of your garden debris if you are not one for a compost pit. And, the best part is after your bonfire dies and the embers fade into obscurity, you get a valuable byproduct that can be used in your garden. This byproduct is ash.

Importance of Wood Ash

Wood ash is replete with potassium and is an important nutrient for your plants, trees, and shrubs. It helps regulate water in the plant cells and plays a role in food transportation and creation of starch and sugar in plants. If plants don’t get sufficient potassium from the soil, they are more susceptible to diseases, pests, drought and frost.

Wood ash for gardening and composting

So, don’t dispose of the ash from your bonfire. You can put it to fantastic use in your garden.

Substituting Wood Ash for Lime

If you want to make the soil more alkaline, use wood ash instead of lime. However, the amount of alkalinity it causes will vary. Hardwood tends to have more nutrients compared to softwood. So, depending on the type of wood you burn, you can raise the soil pH. However, since the bonfire will have a mix of organic matter, the pH may not rise as much as you anticipate.

However, make sure you test the soil’s potassium content before you decide to use ash as a substitute for lime. Too much potassium can adversely affect your plants’ abilities to absorb other nutrients.

Makes Great Mulch

If you want to ensure the soil stays moist and weeds don’t crowd around a plant, you can use mulch, which also slowly releases its nutrients into the soil. You can easily use wood ash to mulch your garden plants without worries. However, avoid using ash for plants, such as raspberries and blueberries, which thrive in acidic soil.

Keeps Pests at Bay

As a gardener, you know how much damage slugs and snails can wreak. You can easily get rid of these common garden pests by sprinkling ash on the soil. Just make sure the ash does not get wet, as its pest deterring ability vanishes. Many gardeners also use wood ash to dust their freshly grown turnips after harvesting them. It acts as a deterrent to turnip flies.

Adding to Acidic Compost Heap

If you compost a lot of fruits, the resulting compost will be quite acidic. You can reduce the acidity of the compost by adding wood ash. The worms love ash, but be careful not to add a lot, as it will immediately change the pH of the compost, thereby adversely affecting the bacteria and worms in it. Sprinkle on every layer of compost as you add it to ensure the acidity reduces. This way when you use the compost, you will not have to add lime to the soil.

Wood ash can prove to be a valuable asset to a home gardener. Just make sure the ash is dry before use and don’t forget to check the soil’s pH before spreading large amounts of ash. It can work wonders for root vegetables, apple trees, beans, and peas.

For more garden tips go to

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Tips for Eco-Friendly Sustainable Gardening

Almost every gardener is interested in sustainability, especially given the sustainability that comes with growing all your food yourself. Some pose the question, why organic gardening? Growing food organically without chemicals has proven to be more sustainable than going the non-organic route.

Carrots growing in eco friendly organic sustainable garden

Sustainable gardening is about more than just growing organic food though. There are an endless number of ways to practice sustainable gardening, from conserving water and energy to sourcing seeds smartly.

Sustainable gardening also reduces your impact on the planet, boosts carbon storage, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to the biodiversity of plants and animals.

On we have compiled some simple tips for eco-friendly sustainable gardening.

The Importance of Composting and the Impact it Has

Composting remains the most impactful sustainable gardening practice there is. Composting recycles materials and enriches them. It boosts the overall health of soil and has health benefits for the whole family.

Composting for eco friendly organic sustainable garden

Composting waste from the garden reduces the waste in landfills and provides your soil with organic matter. Composting is simpler than it sounds too; it can just be something like raking leaves over the garden when preparing it for winter. It doesn’t matter if you’re growing flowers, shrubs, fruits, or vegetables; composting reduces waste and breathes new life into your garden.

Some composting techniques improve the friability of soil and conserve water. Planting cover crops such as oats, rye, and hairy vetch that will compost directly into the soil adds nutrients and nitrogen to soil that prevents erosion during the runoff of spring and fall.

For more tips on making your compost, go to

Test Soil Before Planting

It’s easy to test your soil using a cheap test kit. Get one online or at your local nursery. That way you can test the acidic or alkaline content of soil and add the fertilizer and compost needed to give soil the proper balance.

Make sure that any manure you use is 100% organic. Crops can be damaged by non-organic manure because it has trace amounts of the hormones and antibiotics the animals were given.

Companion Planting and Mulching Works Great

After choosing the fruits and vegetables you’re going to plant, do a little research and work out which plants work best when put together. Keep as much moisture as possible in your garden by covering the soil around plants with organic mulch or compost such as pea straw, manure, pine bark, sugar cane, and seaweed. Any inorganic mulches, like pebbles and sand, should be using sparingly in the sustainable garden.

Conserve Water

Never underestimate the preciousness of water. It must be protected and preserved and kept at a high quality. Sustainable gardeners use rain barrels and other collection systems to get water without having to use private or municipal sources of water.

Protect the quality of the water by avoiding herbicides and pesticides that can contaminate it as it spreads through the soil and returns to the water supply. Water is wasted if it drains away or enters a storm sewer, so use permeable soil to manage runoff.

Ground covers and mulch allow soil to keep hold of water, and you could design a “rain garden” using terraces, raised beds, and holding pools to collect rainwater. This allows the water to soak back into soil slowly.

Here’s how to create a rainwater collection system for your garden:

Growing Sustainable Gardens in Small Spaces

It can be tough to grow and maintain a sustainable garden in an urban environment. If you want to garden and have a small garden or are restricted to just a balcony, then you can get started with the above tips for eco-friendly gardening.

With some grit and determination your garden comes back stronger each year and you get plenty of experience. Plant your garden well, grow strong, make sure you eat well, and continue to recycle.

For more tips for the organic vegetable gardener an sustainable gardening, check out

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Prepping Your Garden For Winter

As winter draws close, I know the thought of ditching your garden throughout this season might have crossed your mind. Hello, this is actually a good time to carry out some real and thorough gardening and landscaping maintenance.

Flowers blooming in garden ready for fall maintenance

Why don’t you use the cold weather and the fact that there will be fewer insects to your own advantage and carry out some vital fall gardening. Remember, putting the garden to bed in the fall makes it far easier and better to awaken it when the spring season comes.

Hydration is Key for Plant Survival

Many regions were victims of a very dry summer, the soil obviously needs water before winter. Once the drought season passes, plants must be hydrated properly going into the winter season.

Garden and plant watering in fall

Ensure that the garden is watered properly, paying more attention to anything that was recently planted, before Dormancy kicks in. Dormancy usually begins as temperatures drop during the fall.

Be careful to not turn your garden into a swamp of a pool of water, water the soils until they are damp and moist enough.

The Ideal Period To Fertilize Your Garden

Fertilizing your garden in the beginning of the fall season isn’t a very good idea. Ideally, you do not want to encourage growth in a period where you should be focused on your plants growing roots and getting ready for dormancy.

Typically, fertilizing your plants after they go dormant (around November) is perfectly alright for more woody plants. However, early spring fertilization is more beneficial to perennials.

Time to Put Your Garden to Bed

Putting your garden to bed simply means tidying and cleaning up your garden, having all the tools and items that you wouldn’t need during the fall season away till spring and making sure that things are well prepared and organized for when they are needed.

Clearing out your garden, and ridding them of pests and debris is a good way to ensure that you wouldn’t be neck deep in tidying during when spring comes around.

Watch this video for more instruction on putting the garden to bed.

Good Preparations Equal Great Results

Setting aside time in the fall to make sure that your garden is well prepared to face the winter season is the single most important factor that will guarantee that your garden remains beautiful when spring finally arrives. While this list is concise and brief, it covers all the basic and important points for your complete garden work.

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Diseases that Ruin Trees, Plants, and Gardens

In a perfectly balanced, natural landscape, insects, bacteria, and other microorganisms help the process of recycling nutrients and plants, and decomposition. These insects and microorganisms coexist in your garden to create a perfectly balanced habitat. However, if the balance becomes disrupted or you introduce a foreign element, it doesn’t take long for problems to arise. Take a look at and follow their pruning and cutting advice to avoid emergency tree removal and disease in your garden.

We’ll be looking at some of the diseases that ruin trees, plants, and gardens below.

Fire Blight Disease is Hard to Control

Fire Blight is a disease caused by bacteria. It gets its name from the devastating effects that make trees look burned. The first symptoms of fire blight become noticeable during early spring.

Fire blight can affect many areas of plants including the leaves, stems, blossoms, and fruit. When the weather gets wet, it causes a bacteria-ridden translucent sticky liquid to ooze from the infected plant parts.

Fungus Infections Affect Trees and Shrubs

Fungi generally live on decaying and dead trees and shrubs. Even so, it can still infect living trees and speed up their rate of decay, killing them faster. If you can see fungus growing on the bark of the tree then it’s a sign the tree is very infected. That is why you must inspect trees for fungus regularly.

Fungus attached and growing on diseased and dying tree

For more tips on avoiding fungus and fire blight, see

Insect Infestations Devastate Trees

Some insects create nests in tree foliage and live out their lives by eating through the greenery. As leaves provide the tree with all the necessary nutrients and food it needs, parasites starve the tree by reducing food supply. Some insects burrow into a tree, which opens the door for disease and rot to infect the tree and destroy it.

Check for New Growth Around the Tree Base

You might feel that new growth around the tree base is a sign that the tree is healthy and growing strong. However, new growth is a sign that the roots of the tree are suffocating, or that your tree isn’t getting enough food as the leaves are too damaged. New growth is a problem that typically points to some deeper and larger problem.

To learn about roots and managing tree suckers, watch this video:

<h3Mushrooms on or Around the Tree

If you see mushrooms are growing on or around the tree then it’s likely that your tree is dying or is already dead inside. Mushrooms need to have decaying material in order to grow. That means if there are mushrooms growing on or around the tree then you should call a tree professional. They can assess the tree and look for any additional damage.

Take a look at this visual fungus guide to identify whether you have a problem

Treat Infestations and Diseases As Soon as Possible

Don’t forget that plenty of damage has been done to your tree by the time that you notice any of the above issues. You need to be aggressive and act quickly to get rid of infections and infestations from your garden and trees.

Given the potential large costs caused by an unhealthy tree collapsing on to your home – or worse, your neighbor’s – it just makes sense to bring in the professionals as soon as you notice any potential problems.

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Everything You Always Wanted To Learn About Pruning

tree pruning and proper trimming of flowering treeTo enhance your landscape potential, proper plant, tree, and shrub pruning is very important. It can enhance the beauty of the plants in your garden, if done properly. However, if you do not know how to do it, you might ruin the entire look of the garden as a whole. We advise to make a list of these important reminders when doing tree pruning because if not done properly, the healthy plants can be deformed or weakened and they may eventually die. If pruning is done in such a manner that the lower leaves of the plant or the shrub do not receive enough air, water, or sunlight, the leaves might wither and fall off. The branches will then drop off in wind or storm. If you want to make your garden beautiful, read on…

Importance of right pruning

You need to be skilled to be able to prune right. If you are in question, it’s best to speak with an arborist or qualified tree company. Not everyone is a landscape pruner and you may not be an expert in using a chain saw on trees and plants. Remember, every year there are hundreds of plants and trees are killed due to wrongful pruning. Pruning is not just randomly cutting down plants and shrubs, but removing unwanted parts of the plants that are not required, and if cut will lead to healthy growth of the shrubs. It is a part of gardening practice that leads to extra energy for the development of fruits, flowers, and branches. It improves the overall health of the plants and shrubs in the garden.

Moreover, there is an overall impact on the landscape effect and value of the plant. If you do not want to do extensive and regular pruning of your garden, you need to choose your plants and shrubs carefully. You need to be sure that plants and the shrubs that you are choosing is not growing too large for the area you are landscaping. You should also find out the plants that require less of pruning and maintenance.

Why do you need to prune?

Though there are more reasons, Gardening Info lists a few of the reasons for pruning:

  • It helps to train the plant to take the desired shape and enhance the beauty of the garden.
  • To be able to maintain a healthy plant growth.
  • Pruning helps to improve the quality of fruits, flowers, stems, and foliage of the plants and shrubs in your garden.
  • To be able to restrict the growth of the plants and to give them the desired height only.


What is the right time to prune?

Pruning can be done at almost any time of the year. However, different plants can be pruned at different times of the year. However, even if it is not the right time of the year to prune the trees, they will not die if pruning or cutting of the unwanted parts of the plants is not done properly. Do not prune too much or too little. If you are not too sure of the time you should prune the plants, it is safe to cut them just before the growth season or spring starts. Another important consideration is if you have taken up gardening as your hobby, you must make it a point to buy the right pruning equipment.

Performing trimming properly and at the right time is critical. Learn more on the right time to prune, and enjoy healthy trees, plants, and a beautiful garden.

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27 Tips From A Master Gardener

A few years ago, I attended a class taught by Marta Waddell, a Master Gardener in Arizona. I’ve referred to my class notes over and over again, and decided they were good enough to pass along to you!

February isn’t too early to think about gardening! It’s the perfect time to start planning, especially since some plants need to be started inside weeks before the final frost.

1. Practice eating what’s in season locally. This will get your family used to eating seasonal produce, and, therefore, what you can grow in your own garden.
2. Learn what herbs might help your family’s health issues.
3. Marta recommends Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman.
4. If you’re worried about too much shade in your garden area, plant dwarf trees rather than full-size trees.
5. All heirloom plants are open pollinated, but not all open pollinated plants are heirloom.

Read more: 27 Tips From A Master Gardener