OK so this is going to be the last Heligan posting, but we were intrigued to see (and to smell) some tons of raw seaweed being used as a mulch – as the photo shows – on the asparagus beds, but on the allium beds as well.
We quizzed the gardeners about the practice and they were really enthusiastic and said that they apply a layer about four inches thick in the autumn and by spring it’s rotted down to a thin crisp layer that’s easily dug in – ‘though probably not on the asparagus! They don’t wash the salt off or weather it in any way. I can see the wisdom of seaweed on the asparagus which is a maritime plant and probably likes a bit of salt but I hadn’t even thought of salt on alliums until we met an Australian gardener there who said that she knows that salt is sometimes applied to alliums ‘because they like it’. I’m really not convinced that applying any salt in its pure form would be a good idea but I’m happy to go with the Heligan gardeners with their seaweed mulch. I’ve also read somewhere that the growers of Jersey Royal potatoes claim that some of their unique flavour comes from the seaweed they use as fertilizer. So we’re sufficiently enthused to try it for ourselves. We’re going to gather some in the next couple of weeks – with the landowner’s permission – and apply it to our much smaller asparagus bed. I’ll post in the spring with an update.
We just got back from our allotment and I’ve finished planting all the garlic (5 varieties) and the shallots (2).