Use of wood ashes in pumpkin farming

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Henry Gaga
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Use of wood ashes in pumpkin farming
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Growing up in a rural village in Malawi as a son of a peasant farmer, I saw my parents grow pumpkins in mould of soil mixed with wood ashes. They burned dry plant matter and put the ashes in a hole in which they planted the pumpkins. The pumpkins grew well and traditionally that's how pumpkins are grown.Farmers want to commercialize this low cost traditional technology. Can any one out there with scientific explanation back up the use of wood ashes to promote growth of pumpkins. What is in the ashes that causes pumpkins to grow well?