Ash has gardening benefits

12 months ago

To the editor:

I would like to express my concern in regard to fighting inflation through gardening.

Last year, when the price of fertilizer went through the roof and inflation for everything flew off the handle, I decided to promote gardening. I have a small orchard and grow vegetables for myself and some I sell at my apple stand. I have somewhat of a farm background and Peace Corps experience, so i know a little about gardening.

I wrote a four-page paper about gardening in northern Maine that I gave away to several people. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of gardening in this inflationary time.  The first thing one might assume is that they won’t be able to afford fertilizer, which is so important for gardening.

We in Maine have access to a very cheap fertilizer: wood ashes. To many, the idea of  using them might seem strange, but they’ve been used for a long time. Webster’s Dictionary defines potash as “potassium carbonate, especially from wood ashes.” Potassium carbonate is a key ingredient in major commercial fertilizers. Wood ashes also contain key elements needed for proper plant growth. Remember, wood ashes were once live trees. They are not only a fertilizer, but a neutralizer and can help neutralize Maine’s acid soil.

Except for crops like blueberries, most crops will do well with wood ashes. if you don’t have wood ashes, there are a lot of people out there who throw theirs out and would be happy to give you some. After tilling the soil, apply a heavy dusting of wood ashes on the area where you will plant seeds or crops, then mix them in. Then tell the commercial fertilizer producers that you will not be using their product.

Phillip McIntyre