I grew up with a proper fire pit in the backyard, but it wasn't until much later that I learned how the leftover blacken bits of wood ash could be used as fertilizer. If you still enjoy a classic bonfire every now and then, here is how you can recycle the remnants and help your garden grow!
Wood ash contains nutrient rich potash and raises the soil pH level, otherwise known as "Sweetening the Soil." It makes a wonderful fertilizer for plants that would suffer in more acidic soil such as Lavender, Lilac, and Rosemary, and veggies like Cauliflower, Beets, and Spinach. Simply search "alkaline-loving plants" to see what else makes the list.
In terms of application every 2nd Fall is sufficient. Sprinkle a 1/4 cup around established plants, or rake lightly into the top layer of fresh soil before planting (about 1 lb per 50 square feet). You can also add the ashes directly to your compost bin; just make sure to keep the ratios low—about 5 percent of the overall mix.
(Image: MaryAnne Petrella)