The Scots Magazine, 28: 312 (June 1766)

The advantages of Peat-Ashes in dressing land; and a method of preparing Coal-Ashes for the same purpose.
James Boswell

Peat-ashes, properly burnt for a manure, are noble improvers both of corn and grass land: but the substance from which they should be got, is an under stratum of the peat, where the fibres and roots of the earth, &c. are well decayed. Indeed, the very best are procured from the lowest stratum of all. This will yield a large quantity of very strong ashes, in colour (when first burnt) like vermilion, and in taste very salt and pungent. Great care and caution should be used in burning these ashes, and also in preserving them afterwards. The method of burning them is much the same as burning charcoal. The peat must be collected into a large heap, and covered so as not to flame out, but suffered to consume slowly, till the whole substance is burnt to an ash. The ashes thus burnt, are held in most esteem; but the peat-ashes burnt in common firing, are, in many places, used for the same purposes, and sold at the same prices.

Peat-ashes are found excellent for sweetening sour meadow-land, destroying rushes, and other bad kinds of grass, and, in their stead, producing great quantities of natural grass.

They burn great quantities of peat-ashes in some parts of Berkshire and Lancashire, and esteem them one of the best dressings for their spring-crops.

A very great improvement may likewise be made, and at a moderate expence, with coal-ashes; which, when properly preserved, are also an excellent tillage. The improvement is, putting a bushel of lime, in its hottest state, into every cart-load of coal-ashes, when carried out upon the land; covering it up in the middle of the heap for about twelve hours, till the lime is intirely fallen, and then incorporating them well together, by turning them over two or three times; by which the cinders, or half-burnt parts of the coals, which are noxious to the ground, instead of being useful, will be reduced to as fine a powder as the lime itself. The coal-ashes should be carefully kept dry. Coal-ashes thus prepared, are the quickest breakers and improvers of moorish and benty land.