soil test

Well happy day.

I mentioned a few posts back that I had ignorantly been dumping wood stove ashes on my garden, thinking that they would provide concentrated nutrients for my soil.  They were natural, what harm could there be?  And then the Extension agent talked to me about the soil sample I had sent in, and it turned out that my assumption was wrong.  Too many ashes aren’t good for the soil, just like too much manure.  My soil tested pretty alkaline.

I spent a while actually researching what to do to organically lower soil pH and found that elemental sulfur would be my best bet.  So at the end of the season this year, I added the recommended amount of sulfur.

Yesterday I completed a home soil test.  It shouldn’t have made me so happy, but I’m simple.  The pH reading was in the neutral range.  I know most vegetables like a slightly acidic soil, but I’ll take neutral.

soil test

wood ashes + logic = lesson

I’ve heated with the same wood stove for as long as I’ve gardened. Each piece of dead wood from the property warms many times; when it’s cut, when it’s hauled, when it’s split, when it’s stacked and when it’s burned.

So let’s get more out of each piece, I reason. Trees pull nutrients from the ground, and burning must concentrate those goodies in the ashes. Concentrated nutrition for the garden? Awesome. Dump it on.

Fast forward.

Soil test a few years later. I talk to the extension agent about why my soil is so alkaline.

Yep. You guessed it.

I learned a few of the best lessons of my gardening career:  assumption can be arrogance, nature loves balance, and too many wood ashes can jangle your soil’s pH for years.

wood ashes