Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Using Seaweed as fertilizer

Strawberry bed with new seaweed addition

I was away on my holidays in Lahinch Co. Clare and decided to bring back a bit of the beach with me. I have been reading for years on the benefits of seaweed fertilizer so I decided to give it a go.

Some of the benefits of Seaweed fertilizer:
  • Saves water, keeps soil moist at ground level
  • Eliminates the need to weed
  • Repels slugs and other pests
  • Enriches the soil
  • Boosts lethargic plants
  • Helps lighten the soil
  • Does not contain weed seeds, unlike bark mulch

 I collected 3 bags of seaweed once the tide had gone out. I put those bags of seaweed on 2 of my strawberry beds (as they have just finished fruiting) -  the other I left to do another day, please don't leave seaweed for any length in bags, the stench a day later is intolerable! 

Lahinch beach with the tide in

I had always read how quickly it composts down, but couldn't believe the changes in just a week - see photos below. What was a good mulching of about 4 inches was reduced down to powdery thin covering. I can see now why they recommend doing 2 coverings. Now I just need to head back to the beach.

After one week
Close up

Some links I found useful details about using seaweed as fertilizer:


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Slugs and Snails ... and keeping plants safe from them!

Snails and slugs ... a gardeners enemy!

They attack many kinds of plants, especially young plants and the soft, succulent growth of herbaceous perennials and vegetables. Slugs provide a useful function by eating dead plant tissue and they are more prevalent on soils with high organic matter where manure and compost have been applied. They are more active in wet years.

Don't the thoughts of them slimming their way over your plants make your skin crawl! Personally, I wouldn't mind if they had an odd nibble, but they never seem content unless causing havoc and inviting all their relations and friends over for a good feed until they have damaged the plant. 

I think the term snails pace does not do justice to the speed at which they can demolish a young plant after a lovely rain shower!

There are many ways of dealing with them ... here is a link to how to deal with them organically. With some of the ingredients of slug pellets being banned shortly, we must look to new methods and or course for our environment. 

New Method - using recycled glass

I tried a new method on a few plants this year. I was lucky enough to be given a bag of crushed glass ( the type they use mixed with sand for sand blasting) from my friend Donal. See below for some before and after pictures of how successful it was. It would have been more successful if my cat didn't like digging in the bark around the beds! This trial was done over approx 4 weeks. 

Crushed glass:

The glass with a stanley blade to show size
The glass is very fine - there are different sizes you can order. I didn't need any special protection and didn't get cut handling it without gloves. See below for contact details if interested in trying it.

The before and after photos:

Lemon Thyme ( 2 plants)


Note - more glass was applied after this photo, but I didn't take a more up to date photo
As you can see there is a huge difference in the improvement. It would have been even better, but I didn't notice for the first week that there was a slug hiding within the barrier. Lesson learnt for future to check the inner circle for these pests! 


For some reason the slugs/snails were only attacking one of the plants - think they were keeping the other plant for the following week. Here you can see how deep the glass was applied - and this was the depth for the others, I just forgot to take the photos again! 

Including the lupin that was untouched. 
A close up of the slug/snail damage.

Much more healthy leaves
Even a beautiful Lupin flower!

Summer bedding



After 4 weeks - most of the glass still intact in this bed

Even some beautiful flowers off plants I had given up for dead which they would have been without the glass protecting them. Here you can see the cat wasn't as active at this bed! 


The trial was a huge success as you can see from the above pictures. I found in cat busy areas, I would need to reapply about every 2 weeks, but in the less cat traveled areas, I would only need to apply or touch up every 4 weeks. I believe that if I wasn't using bark for ground cover, this could even be elongated - perhaps even yearly!!! 
The product is pet friendly as it didn't bother my cat around those areas! 

Details of Supplier ( for Ireland):

Donal Whelan 086 - 849 8501
Delivery can be arranged.