Wood Ashes And Tomatoes

Is there any harm to vegetable growing to dig sufficient of wood ashes

in for mellowing heavy soil? My tomato plants grew splendidly this year,

but the fruits were all rough and wrinkled. I gave them plenty of horse

and poultry manure at planting and plenty of wood ashes and falling

leaves of cypress later.

Wood ashes do not mellow a heavy soil. The effect of the potash is to

overcome the granular structure and increase compactness. Coal ashes,

because they are coarser in particles and devoid of potash, do promote

mellowness, and are valuable mechanically on a heavy soil although they

do not contain appreciable amounts of plant food. You are overfeeding

your tomato plants, probably. The chances are that you had poor seed.

There is no best tomato, because you ought to grow early and late kinds:

there is also some difference in the behavior of varieties in different


Was It the Potash or the Water?

Last year the lye from the prune dipper was turned on the ground near

two almond trees which seemed to be dying, and to my surprise they have

taken a new lease of life. Hence my conclusion that potash was good for

our soil.

Your experience seems to justify the application of potash, surely, but

the question still remains, how much good the potash did the trees, and

how much they needed the extra water which the waste dips supplied. It

would be desirable for you to make another experiment with other trees,

applying wood ashes, if you have them, or about four pounds per tree of

the potash which you use for dipping, scattering well and working it

into the soil after it is moistened by the rains, and not using any more

water than the trees ordinarily received from rainfall. After this trial

you will be in a position to know whether your trees need potash or

irrigation - by comparing with other trees adjacent. Besides are you

sure that your lye dip was caustic potash and not caustic soda? The

latter has no fertilizing value.

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