Gardening: Pests & Pot Ash

January 24th, 2013 8 Comments


I’m sure, for any of you that have at least a handful of plants, that you’ve run across little bugs that find them just as enjoyable to eat, as you find them to look at. Some, so called pests, can be a great thing for the garden. While others see it as a free buffet with all the trimmings.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m one to let nature run its course, but sometimes nature forgets that you have a plan for your plants. In these instances most people turn to insecticides or other nasty chemical laden fare to solve the problem. Now I’m not saying that these items can’t work, just that in the end they do more harm than good, in my opinion.

For one thing they can sometimes affect the health of the plant. These chemicals can seep into the soil from which the plant gets a good portion of its nutrition. If you have edible yummies, they can be left on the exposed portions. In some case (like the plant) gather up these chemicals in the growth process, and be left in the fruit once picked. 😛


Another worry is that most pesticides are indiscriminate. They will kill all the little bugs that happen into the garden, including beneficial insects. Things like ladybugs, praying mantis, and so on. It’s for these reasons, and others, that I try my best to find natural, non-harmful ways to deal with those that deem my garden worthy to feast upon. Which brings us to pot/fire ash.

Believe it or not, potash is a very beneficial substance. It can be used in soaps, filters, shampoos, and many other things, but that’s for a different post. In this instance we are using it to ward off hungry bugs. In our gardens (of which we have several) it’s usually the grubs of a small white moth, grasshoppers and locust. Thankfully we also have a few fire pits where we burn pulled weeds and leaves.



The ash that works for this is ash that comes from leaves, weeds and plants, not from wood burning. The ash will have a white or greyish colour, not dark black.


What you’ll need:

  • White ash from a fire
  • A container to put the ash in
  • A scooper of some kind
  • A shifter of some kind (smaller holed is better)

What to do:

  • Gather up your fire ash, using your scoop, and place it into your container.
  • Take your container of ash, your scoop, and your sifter over to the problem area.
  • Scoop some ash into your sifter and sift it over your plants, onto their leaves, in a thin layer.
  • That’s it.

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Things like grubs don’t like the taste of the ash and will move on. This will last between one to six months, depending on rain and such.  If the ash is allowed to sit on the leaves for at least a day or two the effects will last longer.  If it is washed off quickly it will shorten the effects time.  Generally, I’d recommend reapplying the ash every three months just to be sure. Once the ash has been washed away the effects will still remain. Not to mention your plants will get a healthy dose of the ash at their roots. They will love this stuff as it is potassium, one of the main nutrients that your plants feed off of!


NOTE: This is a crude form of “Potash” and is not a pure form, but still works very well.


About the author

I’m a Goth/Hippie who loves to try new things and dabbles in anything and everything that I find enjoyment in. That can include but is not limited to, cooking, art, digital design, jewellery making, photography, gardening, nature, animals and whatever else strikes my fancy. I’m an optimistic (occasionally) perfectionist (constantly), who can be very sarcastic (incessantly), but all in good humour. :)

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Interesting (and new to me)! The ash doesn’t affect the plant’s ability to get sunlight or exchange gas, I take it?


    Nope it doesn’t. The ash only lasts on the leaves for a day or two and in a thin layer. The plant benefits from it and so far I have seen no adverse effects from this. It’s a technique that’s been used for ages.


      I guess I had in my head volcanic ash. Just saw a very cool Nova thing about volcanoes in Iceland. (Nova: one of the only science programs left worth a damn.)

      It lead to some reading about ‘canoes, and that led to learning about Tambora, one of the biggest, a super-volcano. Article mentioned some small amount of ash that was enough to kill plant life. I guess Tambora basically buried India in the stuff. (This was pre-human times.)

      Anyway… don’t read about those ones in Iceland. It’ll keep you up nights. Yet Another Way All Life Ends Horribly! (YAWALEH)


        Yeah I’ve seen docs and read up on volcanoes and such. It did keep me up many times. Along with a number of other natural doomsday events. 😛

        The ash that’s used for this is a thin layer, and white ash, which is highly nutritious for the plants. Obviously if you buried the plants in ash, any kind of ash, it can be problematic. 😛


          I don’t imagine the hot lava is much fun for them, either!


            Oh the lava’s fine. It’s like a spa day for them. But who wants to leave the spa covered in ash?! 😉


Great advice I’m going to give it a go.


    No worries. 😀 I’m glad you liked it. Let me know how it goes.