Woodburner ash – don’t waste it – use it to grow cauliflowers that will be the envy of Mr Sainsbury.

This is a bit of a woodburner ‘confidential’ – it’s rather like camper vans in that if you have one it is all consuming, obsessive and yet totally boring for everyone else! Thus it is with woodburners. How I adore ours. It’s a bit like having a blast furnace in the sitting room – it is so very industrial revolution. Open up the air turn wheel and whoosh, I could be smelting iron! Visiting aficionados sigh and say ‘Oh, it’s a Clearview’. We discuss how many Kilowatts – the conversations are totally predictable.

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The ash tray

Anyway, the least glamorous bit about having a woodburner is clearing out the ash tray. Cinders does it, and at first I took it outside the front door where the wind blew it straight into my face. Now I carefully parcel up the ashes in newspaper (when cold – do not do this with hot ash!). The tipping technique is to slide it out inside a newspaper fold so that the ash does not escape and use the rolling technique as seen in the fish and chip shop. First wrap it up in one sheet and then another. Don’t forget to keep buying newpapers –  it doesn’t matter if you read them or not.

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The tipping out technique

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The parcel rolling technique

Now it’s ready for the garden and onto something that’s going to feed me with flowers. Wood ash is rich in potassium (potash), which stimulates flowering and fruiting. But it is a very soluble mineral and gets washed away fast. So I am thinking that my parcels of potash which I place round the base of cauliflowers are slow release. In time the damp newspaper will deliver potash to the cauliflowers, purple sprouting broccoli, the wok broc, the nine star perennial broccoli and so on. And a teeny bit of mulching with newspaper gets  thrown in too.

No mess, no fuss ash disposal, that puts the potash right where you want it.

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Parcels of wood ash around the cauliflowers

Another option is to stick the ash parcels straight in the compost bin, where much of it will get locked up by the living micro-organisms and find its way eventually to feeding your edible flowers via your wonderful compost.

Eat more ash I say.


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