Seaweed weaves its magic

During the winter months we’ve been regularly collecting seaweed & putting it directly on our raised beds; one of the beds had been used for sweetcorn & dwarf french beans, & undersown with trefoil & clover. I spot weeded perennial weeds & spread seaweed on top of less persistent weeds & the green manure to a depth of approximately 4″/10cm. The seaweed will rot down over the winter & prevent weed seeds from germinating. However, not all the beds have been covered, just those we’re planning to use for this year’s potato crop. We aren’t adding seaweed to the beds that had a layer last year.

This year we’re extending the hedge up both sides of the plot to form a much-needed windbreak & need to dig trenches before planting out; the soil thins & becomes more chalky as you move up the hill so the soil needs some encouragement to hold water – seaweed is ideal as the alginates help develop soil crumb by glueing the particles together.

We also add a bag of seaweed to our compost pile every few weeks to encourage everything to rot down; it also seems to discourage rats – I don’t think they particularly like either the smell or the slime!

One thing I need to start again this spring is the liquid seaweed bin which I’ve written about previously & a bin for seaweed, leaves, tea & banana skins. This was a magic combination for our pumpkins, climbing beans & sweetcorn as it produces rich water-retentive compost & the potassium in the banana skins counteracts the tendency for chalky soils to be potassium deficient. Also good for fruit bushes, & especially for strawberry beds in the spring.

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