Sunday, January 24, 2010


Woke this Sunday morning to the most unGodly noise for 5.30 AM on a Sunday... Birds. Birds bathing in a gutter and telling the world that was a beautiful morning and that the sun was shining and it wasn't cold not a bit, and the others should come and join it. What of course was really weird was that we could hear it. No wind noise. It is amazing how quickly you get used to it.

The first of the Chinese cabbage seedlings are up, and few carrot - along with lettuce, beetroot, zucchini, and cucumber. The first five barrow loads of weeds, dead grass, and yeah, weeds have made it into the compost. The first 200 grammes of my daily seaweed allowance have made it home. Only 99.800 kg to go. Advice seems to vary with the locals saying some TV gardener said to use it as mulch (unwashed) on top, and my west-coast SA friends saying to wash the salt off it and dig it in. I know it was used on the potatoes before the Irish potato famine, and that them stopping doing so was possibly a factor in causing the blight to spread...but I really have no idea if they dug it in or not. So I washed and dug it in with the Zucchini as an experiment. A zucchini famine would be a tragedy - we have many new ways of cooking them after the great Zucchini overkill, but I plan to rely on the tatties...
Today was the annual volunteer firies cricket match. Much happy slogging.


  1. Dave, it's not the salt in the seaweed that's a problem, it's the sand. So, you did the right thing rinsing it.
    From ABC's gardening Australia: (
    Seaweed itself contains very little salt. It is the sea sand that is enmeshed in it that is quite alkaline and needs to be removed. It can be used around almost any plant except acid loving plants like rhododendrons and azaleas or strawberries. It can be placed around but not near the actual plant, covered by peastraw or mulch, and will gradually convert to a jelly-like substance. Seaweed is not a fertiliser but a soil conditioner that has an amazing beneficial effect on plants. It can make them frost resistant and more resistant to diseases. The trace elements in the seaweed eventually are transferred to the soil and into the plant and its fruit.

  2. Thank you for that. Um.It's not the salt _in_ the seaweed that is the issue - it's just seaweed is very often cast up by rough conditions - which means it is always likely to be covered in salt water, and then will dry and accumulate sea-rime (which is again salty). You will (if you a zoologist and peer closely at these things) often see salt crystals on the surface of cast up seaweed. So - unless there is a lot of rain the outside of old seaweed is salty - from mild to extreme. (lick any piece of old seaweed if you doubt this;-)) Secondly, seaweed varies a lot. Species like Porphyra probably do produce jelly-like alginates if allowed to break down in damp conditions (it's the source of agar-agar). Coraline seaweeds on the other hand contain calcium carbonate IIRC - so will break down into alkaline stuff and almost certainly be bad for any form of garden. Seagrass will dry out and make fibrous compost-like stuff if the material I have seen accumulated is anything to judge by... sun-dried Kelp almost seems to fossilize and might last years before breaking down if you put in dry. Besides trace elements, algae fix carbon very effectively, and can be sources of Nitrates, phosphates etc - as they respond to these in the water... iodine is also almost certainly a major byproduct, and this has some antimicrobial effects -which could be either good or bad... so I'm back to 'experiment carefully'. And I'll wash it unless it is raining hard.

  3. *smiles*
    Thanks for the seaweed lesson, Dave. Very interesting.
    As always,gardening is an experiment and each of our experiments is very different. I'll continue to watch yours with a great deal of interest. I'll just have to remember your background before I start quoting from TV gardening shows!

  4. LOL. I am sorry. I get very enthusiastic and earnest about this. Australia is such a long coastline and is so varied, that seaweed advice that's good for the Northern territories probably needs to be re-evaluated for Tassie - the dominant types of seaweed (red corallines further North and brown algae further south) I am sure are as different as the terrestrial vegetation. And I probably know less than the TV gardener. Appreciate advice even when I don't listen to it. Actually I could use a local seaweed expert, as I want to make sea-weed jelly (I have done this in SA where I knew the species well) and also I'd like to experiment with 'irish-moss' type marbling sometime.