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Thread: Another ash/garden question

  1. #1
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    Default Another ash/garden question

    Here's the deal. We bought 16 acres in northeastern California last spring. There are some pines but lots of sage brush. I've cleared an area for a garden and was wondering if I were to burn all the brush in the garden area would that be to much ash? The current soil has lots of heavy grit sand mixed in it. Garden won't be planted until next year. Wanted to have a bonfire this spring. Was thinking that the winter rain and snow would thin it out some. Would appreciate any opinions.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Ash from burning the weeds and brush won't hurt a garden....
    Many places do controlled burns to clear it and add nutrients.

    I rotated tilling and burning leaves and brush every other ....till the city mad a no burn ban.
    Ash tends to be alkaline Ph...so a lot will depend on your soils' Ph ...found out by testing.

    If you have a lot of sand...and pine trees....I gonna guess it will be somewhat acidic ....You want a balance.
    Some plants like acid, some alkaline....so this is good to know whether you burn of not.

    THAT SAID...
    I would consult the local Forest Service, DNR, Forest Rangers, Fire department.....as it seems that you live in forest fire central?
    I may be wrong.....but ASK before doing this.....You may be in a permit and notification only area.


    You may be better off tilling in the small stuff, cutting and shredding the big stuff.....
    Add rotted manure or let lay over winter, leaves, composted kitchen stuff......(Look up composting)
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  3. #3
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    No matter what you do in the garden area the very last thing before planting will be to have your soil analyzed. Then you will know what amendments if any it needs. I would not be worried about burning brush. There probably won't be enough ash to worry about. What Hunter said about permission.

  4. #4

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    Depends on how big an area you cleared and how concentrated the burn will be.
    When doing a controlled burn, it is a quick moving fire that does not concentrate heat in one place very long. Not likely to kill the crowns of the grass and forbs that live in a natural burn area.

    If you have that stuff piled in one place, and if it is dry and burns hot, you will kill anything good in the soil below it (worms, mycorhyza, etc.), not to mention baking the soil into brick. Plus you don't want all the ash centralized.
    Spread it out. Keep it low and under control. Yeah, not as much fun, but better for the garden-to-be.
    Till the ash under mixing it with some good compost. Probably goes without saying that you want to wet down the ash a bit before trying to till it, otherwise you'll be breathing the stuff.

    Be sure do do a pH test before you do it.
    And a couple weeks after. You want to get the soil fairly neutral (depending on what you are growing) before you over winter it. Test it again before you get ready to plant.

    I'd highly recommend you put in a cover crop or two after the burn to keep the soil in place. Till under the cover crop before it sets seed. Territorial Seed company has good cover mixes for your area.

    I'm not 100% convinced that sage isn't a bad plant when it comes to the oils in its leaves. Carrots absolutely hate growing anywhere within the root radius of the sage I have planted on my garden fence line. I can't find any info to corroborate that. It may not be an issue where you are going to wait a year to plant.
    Last edited by LowKey; 03-19-2017 at 08:24 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks guys. What you have said is what I figured just need to hear it from others. And yes it is a high fire danger area, but I have talked to the fire department and know the laws. Our property is only about 12 miles from our house in town so I am familiar with the area. My son has a PH tester guess we'll start there. I know rick said he wouldn't worry but we have a big pile, 17' long, 5' high 5' wide. That's quit a bit, but I figured rain and snow would wash much of it away by next spring. Lowkey think I will spread it some. I haven't measured yet, it's not fenced yet, but I'm thinking the garden will be 25' X 35' give or take.
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