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21 Natural Uses for Your Fire Pit Ash - By Fire Pit Art

21 Uses for Your Fire Pit Ash was originally 
Published and Written By Fire Pit Art -

21 Uses for Your Fire Pit Ash

Ever wonder what all of those fire pit ashes are good for – if anything? Well, so have a lot of people over the years and it turns out ashes are pretty useful for a lot of everyday problem solving!  Here are 21 common uses from our friends at Fire Pit Art.


If you spend hours enjoying your fire pit, you know that the ash can add up fast, but did you know that there are many versatile uses for wood ash? Not only can reconstituting your wood ash save you money, but it is also a fantastic tool in an emergency or survival situation. Curious about the many applications for this powerful byproduct? We have listed 21 uses for your fire pit wood ash.

1. Ice Melt

Yes, you read that right! Wood ash contains natural minerals that have the same impact on ice as salt does. This makes wood ash an excellent alternative to chemical de-icing salt, a potentially toxic compound to children and pets. A bonus is that this alternative will save you money!

2. De-Skunk

Phew-ew! Has a skunk ever sprayed your poor unsuspecting pet or unguarded house? That smell can be overwhelming and almost impossible to remove thoroughly! So instead of panicking, grab some wood ash and sprinkle a little on your pet or the area of your home/yard to rid yourself of the smell. The wood ash will quickly absorb the scent!

3. Cleaning Glass Stovetops/Woodstove glass

Is your stovetop in need of a little extra TLC? Try mixing a few tablespoons of water into a cup of wood ash to create a paste. This mildly abrasive concoction works as an abrasive and will remove stains and cloudy soot from your glass.

4. Cleaning Headlights

If you’ve been scrubbing with Windex and a towel for an hour and your headlights still won’t come clean, you might want to opt for some wood ash. Make a rubbing paste from wood ashes and water, scrub, rinse, and watch the cloudy road grit and grime wash away!

5. Cleaning Oil Spills

Time to retire that bag of kitty litter and replace it with all the extra wood ash you have! Wood ash easily and effectively absorbs oil spills and stains on concrete. A bonus? It’s free!

6. Good-Bye Algae

Are you tired of your poor pond, fountain, or water feature becoming overrun with algae? Consider adding a small amount (1 tablespoon per 1,000 gallons of water) of wood ash to your water. Wood ash is full of potassium, a compound that naturally slows algae growth and gives your other plants a fighting chance to grow and flourish.

7. Garden Fertilizer

What is wood ash? Well, essentially the essence of a tree. Wood ash holds all the valuable trace minerals found in a tree’s bark. While wood ash doesn’t contain carbon or nitrogen, you can get these compounds from compost. The University of Vermont recommends about 5 gallons of wood ash per 1,000 square feet of garden. However, keep in mind that wood ash will also raise the pH level of your soil; because of this, it is not the ideal choice for acid-loving crops like blueberries or potatoes.

8. Lye, Anyone?

Lye is an essential ingredient found in natural soaps. To make lye with wood ash, boil the ashes (softwoods, such as pine and spruce, are not ideal for lye making as they are too resinous to mix with fat) in a little soft water; rainwater is ideal, for 30 minutes. Give the ashes time to settle to the bottom of the pan and then skim the liquid lye off the top Take your wood ash and mix it with water. Finally, allow it to soak.

Please note: Lye is VERY alkaline and will burn your skin if it comes in contact with it. Please educate yourself on how to handle lye safely before making it.

9. Smelly Fridge?

Wood ash is an excellent absorber of smells and is a perfect substitute for baking soda in your fridge. Place some wood ash (ideally, with a few small pieces of charcoal) in a bowl and place it in your fridge. The ash will absorb any unpleasant smells.

10. Dehumidifier

Is the humidity level high in your area, or is an area of your home prone to moisture? Well, wood ash can be an excellent option to help absorb the excess water in a room. Simply place a cup of wood ash into a bowl and let it sit in your humid space. A cup of wood ash is an excellent way to prevent mold growth in a damp basement, cupboard, or bathroom.

11. Antibacterial

Activated charcoal has antibacterial properties making it an excellent option to apply as part of your daily skincare routine to help prevent breakouts. Additionally, activated charcoal might be beneficial to apply to cuts or scrapes as it has an antibacterial effect by absorbing harmful microbes to help prevent infection.

12. Removing Hair Dye from Skin

Dyeing your hands in the process of dyeing your hair can be very frustrating. No one enjoys scrubbing their hands for hours simply to walk around for days with dark stains lining their fingers. Luckily, wood ash can remove dye stains from the scalp or skin. Just dab a damp cloth in some wood ash, scrub at the dye spots, and watch them disappear!

13. Hair Removal

There is a rumor that wood ash can help remove unwanted hair. Women have been using it for years as a natural wax agent. An excellent area to try would be your nose hairs. Mix a small amount of wood ash with water, gently rub a thin layer around those pesky nose hairs, allow it to sit for several minutes before gently wiping away the ash with a damp cloth. Before testing this out, make sure to test a small patch of your skin to avoid any reactions. The best part? It’s pain-free!

14. Hasta La Vista Slugs!

Place a small circle of wood ash around your precious produce to prevent slugs and snails from invading your bounty. It is a non-toxic and effective solution and works especially well for leafy produce, such as lettuce and spinach. However, keep in mind that your blockade of wood ash only works until the ash becomes wet, so you will need to reapply the ash regularly to remain effective at keeping pesky slugs out! On the plus side, the wood ash is easy to wash away when you’re ready to pick and eat your produce.

15. Picture Perfect Tomatoes

Are you struggling to produce bright red, tasty tomatoes? Ugly black spots are often the result of a calcium deficiency. Yes, produce needs vitamins too! Wood ash is an excellent option for adding much-needed calcium to your tomatoes. Simply add 1/4 cup of wood ash to your tomato planting hole and rub it into the soil prior to placing your precious tomato plant in its new home!

16. Prevents Frost Damage to Plants

Did you plant early or are not quite finished harvesting, and a late or early out of season light frost is threatening the wellbeing of your plants? Dusting your plants with wood ash before a light frost can prevent damage. Due to its natural chemical composition, wood ash combats frost by lowering the freezing point of water without hurting the plant.

17. Natural Flea, Tick, and Lice Protectant

If fleas, ticks, and lice are prevalent in your area, you can deter these pests from making a home in your pets’ coats by sprinkling wood ash on their fur before letting them go outside.

18. Lawn Fertilizer

Wood ash is full of trace minerals that help keep your grass lush and green! Add a light dusting of wood ash to your lawn and water thoroughly to allow it to soak in. Then, sit back and watch your yard transform into a green oasis!

19. Scrub Those Dishes Clean!

Are you camping and forgot your dish soap? If you don’t have the option of traditional soap, you can sprinkle wood ash and water on your dirty dishes. Rub the ash onto your dirty plates, pots, pans, and forks to remove pieces of leftover food and grease.

20. Go Away, Mice!

Do you have a mice infestation? Pesky rodents are a challenge to remove. However, mice and roaches both hate wood ash. If you sprinkle a small amount in an area they frequent, they quickly move onto greener (less ashy) pastures leaving you pest-free!

21. Chicken Supplement

Have you heard about giving your chickens back the shells of their eggs to eat or providing oyster shells for an extra boost of calcium? Well, wood ash serves this purpose and won’t cost you a thing! High in calcium and potassium, wood ash makes an excellent supplement for helping your chickens stay healthy. Remember to remove any wood ash from bowls that could fill with water to avoid making lye.

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Going ‘Dutch’ with the ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ – By Vincent J. Zuzow

Going ‘Dutch’ for all of you young-ins out there in reader land was/is a term for paying your own way on a date.  This concept was invented by the male of the species for cheeping out on the cost of weekend fun, and sometimes even supported by the female of the species when she was uncomfortably making a connection with the male any closer than arm’s length… This aggressive climbing vine – ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ – lives up to ‘paying its own way’ by offering a lot of gardening qualities to the Earthen Gardener!


Dutchman s pipe 1




‘Dutchman’s pipe’ or “pipevine” – aka Aristolochia macrophylla or Aristolochia durior is a zone 4-8 climbing vine that is native to eastern North America. This shade-loving climber is a magnet  for butterflies due to the butterfly-eatable nature of the plant. Case in point; the  Pipevine is the primary food for Pipevine Swallowtail according to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA).


Up, up and away!

The ‘Dutchman’ is a quick-grower, and reaches a height of 20 feet to 30 feet tall under ideal conditions. The name “Dutchman’s pipe” is derived from the unique shape and look of the flower that resembles a meerschaum pipe – think Shercock-Holmes-ish smoke-ware.


Meerschaum pipe 2c


Flowers 1 :  Leaves 10

The flower which blooms in zone 5 in June is an eye-catcher, but, alas, the interesting-shaped flower is often times obscured by the large, dense heart-shaped foliage of the leaves. So, in mid-summer you will see much more of the foliage than the buds – making the green leaf the plant’s best feature. However, if you’re looking for contrast with more delicate plants in your Earthen Garden, you will appreciate the coarse texture of these big green beauties!


Three reasons to go ‘Dutch’:





Wall of Green

Yes, it would be better if it was $100 bills, but then they would get all soggy after a couple of rains anyway.  A better solution for a mass of green color is the Aristolochia macrophylla. Lots of texture and lots of green.  Put up a trellis and create a backdrop for your shorter lovelies in the foreground.  Or cover up that chain-linked fence with a more appealing natural look. This climbing plant is very effective at hiding eyesores as well – think ugly cinder block wall – even if it’s a temporary fix for some curb appeal.


Dutchman s pipe aristolochia fence


Made in the Shade

Still got that trellis or section of lattice across your porch? Grow some climbing ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ and take yourself out of the heat of the day. The big pay-off comes from coolin’ your heels in the shade just watchin’ the world go by…

Dutchman s pipe close

Private eyes aren’t watchin’ you

Your home is your castle it’s been said.  There are enough eyes probing you all day long. Why not have more ‘me time’ back at the ranch?  You may have to live next door to that nosey neighbor, but you don’t have to look at them if you have a trellis-filled climbing garden. Wish you had a privacy fence, but your local building code says “No”?  Just say “yes” to a couple of moveable structures or trellises mounted to a wooden base, and plant ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ in a few portable containers.  Tell the ordinance officer to: “go suck on a ‘Dutchman’s pipe’…” A moveable structure should be allowed in most communities.  If you still get a hassle, you can always fairly easily move the ‘Wall of Dutchness’ to another location in the yard or (heaven forbid) to a friend’s or relative’s yard.

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Gardening Tools of the Trade – 5 Rakes For Every Garden – By Vincent J. Zuzow

“Rake Me, Shake Me”

While not one of the Four Tops (popular Motown singing group from Detroit, MI) top 10 songs, the rake is a basic staple in the garden. Many things can be done with automated machines, but then again, some things just require good ol’ fashioned muscle power and elbow grease.  Getting dead leaves and other debris from under bushes, spreading and leveling dirt before re-seeding and de-thatching small areas of your lawn all require the use of different types of rakes.


Here are a list of some popular and useful garden rakes to have on hand around your Earthen Garden:

Leaf rake
Commonly used for gathering leaves in the spring and fall.  Used for giving a light combing of your lawn or anywhere you need to collect and pick up lighter, topical debris. This rake is a wider ‘fan’ style of rake with the tines (fingers) spread out over a 48″ to 56″ or wider grabbing area. The idea here is to grab or gather as much debris as possible in each sweep of the rake.  Since the debris is usually dried leaves or pine cones etc., the rake (and your arms, shoulders and back), are put under less strain.

De-thatching rake - also called a thatching rake for some reason
A metal rake with pointed angular tines designed to lift dead thatch for removal from a lawn. The thatch is then gathered usually with a leaf rake, then picked up and put into a recycling bin for lawn waste or put into a compost bin or compost pile. This rake is only used occasionally, and can give you a workout so drink plenty of water and wear gloves. Make sure you are patient and practice the angle of the de-thatching rake to get the most out of the tool and your efforts.

Landscape rake – sometimes called a ‘Beach rake’ (if you can justify the periodic use verses the cost of it)
This specialty rake is usually flat on one side and has teeth on the other. It is very useful for preparing ground before planting grass seed or the laying of sod.  The toothy side of the rake is good for gathering stones and other debris for collection and removal.  The flat side is best for smoothing the earth and grading soil.  A smooth, well graded surface is key before laying sod or planting.  

Shrub rake
This type of rake comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all fall under the same category and serve a similar purpose – to service, access and address hard to reach areas in the yard.  This may be under shrubs and bushes to remove leaves and other waste or for light cultivation and general sprucing up of wood chips, stones or loose soil.  Some of these tools are on small 4 foot handles and some are sold as handle-less hand tools for ease of use in tight quarters and small areas.  The best use of these rakes is where mobility and ease of use on small areas is needed. I have also seen shrub rakes uses for ‘combing’ the tops of shrubs after trimming the shrub – to remove small cuttings or trimmings from the bush.  Need to get a stray ball out from under the porch?  This guy is your go-to rake of choice for that job as well!

Bow rake (hard rake)
Possibly the second most useful rake in the shed is the Bow rake – sometimes called the hard rake in some parts of the world. This rake is similar in some ways to the landscape rake in that it has a toothed side and a flat side.   It is also a very useful tool for preparing ground before planting grass seed or the laying of sod.  This rake is seen in many homes and may be the predecessor to the larger landscape rake.  One difference between the two is that the bow rake is made of steel and is very rugged.  The landscape rake is generally made of aluminum with a hollow aluminum handle, and is lighter in weight than it looks – but less sturdy than the Bow rake.  The toothy side of the rake is good for gathering stones and other debris for collection and removal.  The flat side is best for smoothing the earth and grading soil.  A smooth, well graded surface is key before laying sod or planting.  

Well there you have it. Rakes are simple but very useful tools and when treated with respect and care will last a very long time in your Earthen Garden!


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What Gardening Gear would you Buy if you were Given $1500 to Spend?


It’s that time of year again.  Time to get thinking about getting your tools in shape for this gardening season.  Time to think about the lawn mower, the weed whip, the edger and the blower.  Gotta get the chipper or shredder going again too.  By the way, did you empty the gas in the tiller last year? 

Are you looking forward to yanking on that gas mower again this year?

Time for a little hypothetical question – imagine you were walking by a garden center and running out the doors came the owner of the shop. He races up to you and says – “it’s your lucky day – you’re our lucky winner!” I’m going to give you anything in my store up to the value of $1500!

You’ve got an hour to choose whatever you want.  You can get as many products as you like as long as they total $1500 or less…  Ready, Set! – GO!

What gardening gear would you buy if you were given $1500?

No, you can’t just buy this cute little Wrapables Indoor Gardening Hand Tool Set, and get the rest in cash.  

You’ve got to spend it all at the gardening center.  One other limitation – you have to choose at lease one battery-operated cordless power tool like this WORX 19-Inch 36 Volt Cordless PaceSetter Self Propelled 3-In-1 Lawn Mower With Removable Battery.  Nice, no more yanking!

Other than that – pick whatever you want! What do you need?  What would you get?

Lets use the prices at Amazon’s gardening center as a guide  – (they have most things) but don’t get too caught up in the details – really I’m asking what gardening equipment you’re been thing of…


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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year with the best wishes from Earthen Garden.

May 2014 find peace and joy and success in your life, and a fulfilling and fruitful garden!

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It’s Spring!

Well, after a long cold winter that had us slipping and sliding all the way out to our cars, trucks and buses, we can just now see the light at the end of the tunnel – or should I say the thaw at the end of the freeze.

It won’t be long until crocuses poke their little colorful heads out of the ground to take a first glimpse at the all new – redesigned spring weather for 2013.  Well the weather isn’t much of a change from 2012, but you catch my drift.

So, what are you going to do with your gardening this year?  Is it an extension of last year, or a break away new direction for your little plot of heaven?  Is it veggies or flowers this year; or a combination of both?  Want to expand to a bigger climbing garden, or get your feet wet in beginning one?

The first thin to do is to begin thinking about what your new goals might be.  What about the size of your garden? Is it appropriate for the size of your property?  Are you over planting or under planting?  Maybe you have the room, but don’t have the time or energy to work a bigger garden.  Gardening takes both.  Over ambition leads to an over-whelming project that may make have you regretting you didn’t plan to pull in the rains when you were planing in the spring – which is now!

A little planning will go a long way to enjoying your garden as it blooms into an explosion of fragrance and color!

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Vincent’s 2012 Cranberry Sauce Recipe – By Vincent J. Zuzow

Each Thanksgiving for the past several years, I have made a holiday Cranberry sauce.  In the Mid-Western part of the United States the tradition of Thanksgiving is closely related to not only what blessings have been granted over the year, but what foods will be consumed on this day of feasting.  This years sauce is a bit on the tangy side, but can be sweetened to taste by adding more sugar, Splenda®, or honey.

  1. Wash berries in a strainer or colander, and place in a proper sized pot on the stove on medium heat.
  2. Add all ingredients.
  3. Stir pot.
  4. wash outside of orange(s) because some of the outside of the peel will be used in the sauce.
  5. Zest the orange peel by holding it over the pot and scraping the peel with a fork or use a potato peeler, and scrape off the thinnest possible slices an place in the pot.
  6. As berries begin to start popping, set timer for 15 minutes and start timer.
  7. Continue stirring occasionally.
  8. When timer is done, remove from heat and pour into shallow bowl(s).
  9. Set aside to cool (perhaps in a spot on the back porch secure from animals)
  10. Can be served warm (not hot), or chilled in the refrigerator overnight.

This is my recipe for Thanksgiving 2012.

Vincent’s 2012 Cranberry Sauce Recipe – Single Batch

  • 1 Bag of whole cranberries
  • 1 cups of Orange Juice
  • a handful of raisins
  • 1 Medium oranges – squeezed & partially zested
  • 8 to 10 Grapes of your choice
  • 6 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Cups of sugar
  • .5 cup of Apple Cider
  • 1 Washington Apple – or your apple of choice


This is a jumbo batch. Really 3 batches together; designed for keeping some, and having some to take to other dinners or to give away.

Vincent’s 2012 Cranberry Sauce Recipe – 3 Batches

  • 3 Bags of whole cranberries
  • 1.5 cups of Orange Juice
  • a handful of raisins – or more to taste
  • 2 Medium oranges – squeezed & partially zested
  • 20 Grapes of your choice
  • 10 Whole Cloves
  •  3 Cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of Apple Cider
  • 1 or 2 Washington Apples – or your apple of choice


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The Perfect Father’s Day Gift!

With Father’s Day coming this sunday, why not give him the perfect gift. That is, the perfect gift certificate!  What better place to grab all of that gardening glory, than  Amazon has about anything and everything your ‘daddy with the green thumb’ could want for his Earthen Garden, and a lot of things he may not have even thought of!


Anyway you look at it Dad will be gardening with his new toys in no time and you saved a trip to the store!


If you’re looking for plants to add to along with his gift card, check out my friend’s (and Earthen Garden contributor) site:

Paula grows ‘Plant Plugs’ from seedlings, and has a wide variety of unique plants to choose from.  All of her stock is full of life, and grown with the best soil, best fertilizers and of course Paula’s tender loving care!

Have a wonderful father’s day all of you dads out there, and don’t forget to give a special hug to all of your little ones – no matter what their age!

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Growing Herbs In Containers For An Exciting Look And Flavor! – By Vincent J. Zuzow

What could be be better than adding the visual excitement of containers full of beauty and having some fresh herbs to use for tonight’s dinner?  Well quite a lot of things are better, but my point is beauty and taste –  it’s a good thing!

Chives bloom in the late spring with an elegant purple blossom!


Being the gardener that you are, you probably have plenty of containers to plant in, but if you don’t, or you are looking to make a statement; try finding something unique  - maybe even something re-cycled to plant in.

Garden Art will add flair to your herb container gardening.

Potted containers of plants sit in an old 'Radio Flyer' red wagon surrounded by the Earthen Garden in full bloom at the MSU Tollgate garden.

Try tubs, trays, barrels, old watering cans, wooden boxes and more.  I’ve even seen cardboard boxes, wagons (seen above), sinks and even a row boat (as seen below)!  Just be careful to make sure you have proper drainage.  Solid containers will not let the water out, and hence will drown or rot the roots of your plants quicker that you can say “Allium schoenoprasum”.

old re-cycled row boat on Grosse Isle, MI.

This row boat makes a large and unique container for planting.













Speaking of allium schoenoprasum, (better known as) ‘chives’ make a nice center piece for your pot because of the hight that they will attain.  They also offer a petite purpleish bloom in the late spring, and give a mild onion flavor on your salad.  You may already have some growing in your Earthen Garden that are large enough to divide. Simply dig part of the clump including root ball of course, and re-pot. Badda-bing-badda-boom!


Annual herbs that work well in container gardens are:

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) is sown in the late spring and is known as a half-hardy annual. Chervil (Anethum cerefolium) is a biennial that is considered as hardy as an annual, and can be sown from late winter to mid-autumn.

Perennials that are ideal for container herb gardening are:

Evergreen Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Mint (Mentha spicata)
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Marjoram (Origanum vulgare)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)


You may consider keeping the Mint in a pot by itself because it tends to be invasive.  Two more tall shrubs that should be kept in their own containers are laurel and sweet bay (Laurus nobilis).  Herbs are not crazy about a hard freezing, so keep in a cool garage or greenhouse over the winter in colder zones.


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Container Gardening with Culinary and Scented Herbs

On Wednesday, May 23, 2012 Paula Kraus will be giving a presentation at the Novi Public Library from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  The topic will be “Container Gardening with Culinary and Scented Herbs.”

The presentation is to geared toward introducing a variety of culinary / scented herbs to the attendees.  During the course of the presentation Paula will cover the standard container garden materials list, and will give her tips to keep container plants thriving throughout the growing season.

Using a selection of scented herbs, Paula will discuss the basic container garden design elements, and give a hands-on demonstration of assembling a container garden.  The finished container herb garden will be offered at the end of the presentation as a free raffle prize.  Come and join the fun!

The Novi Public Library is located at - 45344 W 10 Mile Road, Novi MI  48375.  The contact phone number is 248 349-0720.

Paula Kraus is a Master Gardner and owner of ’Seven Sisters Herb ‘N Garden’. She specializes in herb gardening, landscape restoration and plant plug horticulture.

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