Question of the Week – Number 2

“Neil, can we put fireplace ashes into our compost and garden?”

This is a question that thousands are asking this week after fireplaces have been a main source of heat in electricity-strapped Texas.

Fireplace ashes are highly alkaline, so they will have a marked effect on your garden soil when you apply them.

In East Texas they would act to neutralize the acidic soils in much the same way that adding lime would do.

The Land Resources Map from the Texas Almanac shows the many soils types of Texas. They’re names you hear often, and most of those from the I‑35 corridor of Blackland clays and westward are highly alkaline. Click image for larger view.

However, for most of the western 80 or 85 percent of the state, where soils are neutral or already alkaline, they would merely add insult to injury. Along the I-35 corridor and westward they should be sent to the landfill. Of course, wait until they have cooled completely before putting them into trash bags.

Continued Below

If you have no option but to distribute them over rural property in an area with alkaline soil, do so over a very large area to minimize their adverse impact.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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