A: You should not add ashes to a compost pile. Something that seems such a simple process (piling up garden trimmings to rot) is pretty complicated chemically. The different microorganisms that chew up your lawn clippings and weed stems prefer different amounts of acidity in the pile. Ashes decrease the amount of acid, which may inhibit microorganism activity and slow down the whole process. Rather than adding them to your compost heap, spread the ashes onto your lawn. You can scatter 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet with no problem. The ashes perform the same service as garden lime. To make sure you are adding the right amount of acid neutralizer, have the soil tested by the UGA Soils Laboratory. Details at georgiasoiltest.com.
Q: We are dealing with a woodpecker issue. Our house is a split level with wood siding. The birds peck holes in the siding. We have tried patching the holes, hanging spinning light fixtures, banging on the walls when they peck, and even placing fake owls nearby. All of these were unsuccessful. Between the bird noise and our 16-month-old, we are not getting much sleep. Hunter Neely, east Cobb