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Wood Ashes Can help Your Tomatoes From Master Gardener David Wall

January 29, 2024 – By saving fireplace or wood stove ashes this winter, you can use them in April to help grow bigger, better, and more productive tomato plants. Actually, wood ashes are very beneficial all over the vegetable garden. Besides raising the pH in overly acidic soils, wood ashes contain large amounts of calcium and potassium (potash), two nutrients tomato plants need in large quantities plus numerous other nutrients.

Calcium, for example, helps young tomato plants develop healthy cells and wall structure for strong stems and branches, and it also aids in successful germination of its blooms. Nearly 20% of a pile of ashes is made up of calcium.

Potassium, sometimes called potash. helps tomato plants absorb water, and a tomato is nearly 95% water. Potassium also aids photosynthesis, which helps tomato plants turn light into energy, that aid strong, healthy growth and more blooms. Wood ash also happens to contain magnesium, phosphorous and other trace nutrients that tomato plants love as well. Finally, ashes increase the soil’s ability to retain moisture.

The success is using ashes comes down to knowing when to apply them and in what quantity. One of the best times to use ashes is on planting day. Put 1.5 cups directly in your planting holes.

Placing your transplant deeper in the ground allow a better, faster root system to develop. Sprinkle some more around the planting hole. If you’ve ground your egg shells into powder, add two tablespoons to each hole. Finish by adding mulch around the plant.

To top dress, scatter about ½ a cup of ashes lightly around the base of each plant. Finish by mulching your tomato plants as you normally would with straw, shredded leaves or grass clippings. By putting the ash under the mulch, it will stay in place and do its job perfectly.

Author: Matt Janson

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