I read a couple of years ago that wood ashes should be scattered on the ground in plots as it acts similar to lime. Is this true?
I don't know how effective wood ashes are at lowering the PH of your soil like lime. It does add Potash to your soil which is one of the components of fertilizer (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potash) as labeled on the bags.
I thought I had heard where too much wood ashes actually raises the PH of your soil (more acidic)...
On the Banks of the Ocmulgee River near Abbeville, GA
The Ogre's Home
this past winter we cleared a fence row of all russion olive, choke cherry and piled up everything every 200 ft or so. We burned the piles so there wasn't even a dump truck of stumps left. then prepared the ground to plant. where the piles were, the grass came back 5-6 times faster and grew at leasst three times thicker and greener. I always toook out my ashes rom the fireplace and put them into the garden. It helps!
I usually throw wood ashes out in the garden or food plots too but I've read in garden books that the people who should know are up in the air about it. What I read said small quantities shouldn't hurt anything and they said it might even help? Odd they gave such an iffy response, u'd think in this modern age there'd be less guess work on this.
One thing to watch far, at least in my opinion is bulky piles of it. In the old days, when the woman folk needed to make their lye soap but were out of lye, they'd fill a vertical, hollow log with wood ashes then pour water onto the ashes. They'd catch the drippings which could be used in place of the lye. (actually, this is lye, just weaker)
Lye is the reverse of acid and is a strong alkaline. It looks like it'd help with acid soils to me too
Tinhorn's 2¢ worth
On my soil report I got from Michigan State University it had a paper showing the different ways to get fertilizer from more natural things. They showed that wood ashes would be the same as a bag of 0-1-5. Which means no nitrogen (per 100lbs), 1lb of P2O5 Phosphate, 5lbs of K2O Potash.
Nitrogen is a primary nutrient that really makes plants "grow." When you put fertilizer on your lawn, most of the "green-up and grow" comes from the nitrogen.
Phosphorus is a primary nutrient that encourages rooting, blooming and fruit production in plants.
Potassium helps plants resist disease and aids in winter hardiness.("K" is the symbol for "kalium" or potash, and is commonly used to represent potassium)
Hope this helpes.