Will charcoal ashes have an effect on the ground?
Ashes from charcoal grills should not be added to gardens because of chemicals used in processing charcoal. Wood ashes, on the other hand, are safer for garden use. They have fertilizer value-generally less than 10 percent potash, 1 percent phosphate, and trace amounts of micronutrients-but their main effect is to raise the pH, or alkalinity, of the soil, and they can do it rather quickly. A soil pH above the optimum level limits a plant's uptake of important soil nutrients. If you live in an area with alkaline soils, adding wood ashes to the garden soil could cause nutrient deficiencies. In areas where the soil is more acidic (generally areas east of the Mississippi), the best way to take advantage of wood ashes is to add them to the compost pile. That avoids the hassle of scattering the ashes in your gardens, and you lessen the risk of applying too much of a good thing, which can actually harm your plants.
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