I have decided to revive a kelp experiment that I dropped some time back, when I had to temporarily move away from the coast.
Kelp in the Garden
Kelp is a generic term for several species of larger coastal seaweeds. Besides having many commercial uses such as food and medicinal supplements, for both humans and animals, these seaweeds are valuable to gardeners as a rich source of plant nutriments and trace elements .
Historically, kelp has been used by farmers for centuries to enrich the fertility of their lands. Farmers on barren, rocky Scottish islands, with no real natural earth at all, have been able to build up enough soil over time, to create extensive, highly productive gardens by simply mixing kelp with sea sand. Ancient Romans were also known to have used this abundant sea weed to manure their fields.
When composted, kelp breaks down to provide a highly nitrogenous organic fertilizer with a good potash component, though rather low in potassium (which can be obtained from organic bone meal). Moreover, modern analysis has shown kelp to be an extremely rich source of the trace elements that are usually missing to various degrees in normal soils.
To promote healthy plant growth, besides the macro nutriments containing the common elements (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, and magnesium), plants also need tiny quantities of rarer elements, found in various natural minerals and compounds, to promote their well being and healthy growth. These rarer elements are very often lacking to varying degrees in most garden soils.
Gardeners have often experienced lack-luster growth, coupled with a persistent yellowing of the leaves of plants and shrubs, and this in spite of having carefully provided the right mix of balanced fertilizers and compost. This phenomenon is usually a telltale sign of mineral deficiency in the soil and is not simply a disease or lack of adequate nutrition. There is a sure fire way to get over this problem – add trace elements.
Trace elements, in the form of concentrated syrups, can be bought from any nursery. One of the most popular of these supplements ( as it is entirely organic), is concentrated kelp extract. These products are diluted with water and then can be used either as a foliar spray, or poured directly around the roots of plants. Trace element supplements are rather expensive, but Gardeners claim spectacular results.
Kelp and Worms
As we know, the products of vermiculture (worm manure and worm tea) are also very rich sources of plant nutriments and the bacteria they carry with them into the soils have the added advantage of fixing atmospheric nitrogen around the roots of the plants. So the thought occurred to me – Why not feed your worms with kelp and thus enhance the well known beneficial results of worm farming, with the added benefit of the nutriments and trace elements and minerals derived from composting kelp? The possibility of creating a “Supranure” is exciting to say the least, especially as kelp is thrown up on the beaches in my area, is easily collected and best of all, it is free.
I have started my experiment with three separate worm farms (each having 3 tiered bins). The first farm is a control, fed solely with normal kitchen and garden waste. The second is to be fed with 50% kitchen scraps and mixed with 50% shredded fresh kelp. The last worm farm, once established, is to be fed only with fresh shredded kelp.
I intend to observe progress regularly and report on in these pages over the next few months.
There was a very productive string of comments sent in, following my earlier posting – to view or add your comments – Click on http://working-worms.com/feeding-your-worms-with-kelp/.
FOLLOW THE PROGRESS DIARY
There was also a very productive string of comments sent in, following my earlier posting – to view .