From the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed:
Fall is coming and the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed is collecting household wood ash again. The next ash collection date is on Saturday, September 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rosewarne Transfer Station in Bracebridge at 1062, Rosewarne Drive.
Why is Friends of the Muskoka Watershed collecting wood ash?
Early studies show that adding wood ash to our forests can make our trees stronger and healthier, which could in turn impact such things as climate change and seasonal flooding. The calcium in wood ash is a natural way to replenish the calcium lost over decades of acid rain.
Over 1,000 people have contributed 27,000 kilograms of ash to the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed (FOTMW) in the past three years to help protect Muskoka’s forests and watersheds.
These volunteers store their ash outdoors after regular cleaning of their woodstove or fireplace. Then on specified collection days, often a cold winter’s day, they put their ash into their car or truck and deliver to the Rosewarne Transfer Station in Bracebridge – talk about dedication!
Others are asking, why do I need to donate my wood ash to FOTMW?
For the last three years, FOTMW has been doing scientific research on the benefits of adding ash. We needed the donation of wood ash from homes heated by firewood so we could study the ash contents to determine the chemical makeup. The laboratory studies indicate that Muskoka ash is 25-30 percent calcium, and also contains other key plant nutrients including potassium, magnesium and phosphorous.
We also needed ash to put on test sites so, working with three universities, we could monitor the results. Thanks to our volunteers, we have spread about 9,000 kilograms of ash across test
forests in Muskoka, as part of our research. Early results show it is having a positive impact – with healthier, more storm-resistant trees that capture more carbon!
Now, we are working with Citizen Scientists to learn even more about the benefits of wood ash. The donated ash was filtered and mixed to create kits to expand the reach of our research across Muskoka. We have given over 80 Citizen Scientist kits to those participating in an ash spreading experiment on their own trees. They report back and help us learn.
My buckets (pails) are full and the next FOTMW ash collection day is not until September 24. What am I supposed to do?
Because of the regulations around ash, we are not permitted to pick up ash from a private residence and we can only accept it at Rosewarne Transfer Station in Bracebridge on specific days. We can arrange for an extra bucket or two for storage if that helps.
Can I spread my wood ash on my own property?
While we would prefer you to store the ash for us, some of you choose to put in on your own property. If so, there are some things you need to watch out for.
• First, only use cold, dry ash. Allow the ash to cool for several days. Hot ash is a real fire risk to homes, properties and forests.
• Clean ash is required, so only burn clean wood. Avoid pressure-treated wood, plastics, construction waste or wood treated with paint, glue, insecticide etc. Remove any staples or nails ahead of time and strain or rake your ash for metals before spreading.
• Through our research we’ve determined a ratio that we believe works best for our Muskoka forests. Spread one 750 ml yogurt container full of ash per one square metre. It is recommended that you wear gloves, long pants and a mask when spreading ash.
• Wood ash only needs to be applied once to replace the 50 years of calcium depletion due to acid rain. If you have more ash, spread it in a different area next time. Spread it in an area not frequented by people and pets.
• Please avoid lakes, wetlands and steep grades heading toward the water when spreading your ash.
And it you are adding it to your property, let us know. Tag us on social media or email
When September returns, please continue to share your collected wood ash at our Sept. 24 collection day. We will need more wood ash in the future. Thank you for supporting the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed and our ASHMuskoka project.
Friends of the Muskoka Watershed is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of protecting Muskoka Watersheds forever. Your donations are appreciated. Visit www.fotmw.org for more information.
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