Composting Seaweed

I wrote this post April 2020, after a revision it has been posted again. Due to the wild fire smoke I cannot go out of the house until it clears up.

The wind has changed directions all day long which isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things. The wind on the slough is the best way to predict the weather. The prevailing is predominately from the West just a bit North as it follows the bay and rivers inland. It is windy 6 months of the year beginning in late May into November when the seasonal rains begin. The rain wind comes from the South West, that is what has been going on today. It is shifting from Northwest to Southwest. It’s been an indoor day while waiting for the rain to fall, the sky has been threatening all day. Late afternoon it finally started to rain fairly hard but intermittent. There is work to do in the Garden but it will have to wait at least until tomorrow.

The compost tumbler is full of wet seaweed.

This is the time of year river weeds grow close to the docks and Levee. Residents refer to them generically as Tules. Among them are Aquarium weeds from some people liberating their fish into the slough, Duck weed is among the growth, several other species are present as well. People stuff them into large black trash bags then onto the Levee top to pile up awaiting a trip to the green waste pile. Very few others think of it as a bonanza, hauling them to their homes for use in the garden.

The compost tumbler is now filled with seaweed, and I had more so I filled my cold composting wire towers.

I did not collect an ample supply of leaves this past Autumn as usually done in years past due to plans to rearrange the Garden Boxes. Fill dirt needs to be hauled in to level the yard, widen the driveway, pull up decade old Roses, add a few more raised bed boxes and finally fill them all with approximately 8 yards of compost. The planting soil must be purchased from a nursery as that amount exceeds the amount processed on a quarter acre. The plan was abandoned until Autumn 2020 due to the C-19 interruption. The need for leaves still exists, the seaweed will meet that need.

A week later the seaweed dried, it must be 80% water.

I tow a wagon behind my mobility scooter when I scout around for stuff, in this case seaweed. I collected just over a cubic yard, more remains at the dock I scavenged from yesterday; the plan was to fetch the remainder today. One cubic yard takes up a fair amount of space, luckily all of my composting cages, bins, and receptacles are empty. There will be enough material to fill all of them along with replenishing the cold composting box a grandson and I built.

On top of the mulch I layered wood chips to keep the moisture in.

It makes good quality mulch to be used for weed control, also as filler material as the boxes compost settles, and as it composts it will be used in planters mixed with Castings. It may be used as it is on top of the wood chips that were dumped here on my request by a tree trimming crew. When placed over the wood chips, which are placed atop the compost to hold the moisture it acts as insulation reducing water use drastically. The soaking wet weeds lose 1/2 of their bulk as they dry out, they must be between 50-60% water content. Most of the weeds will be used before fall with a few exceptions.

Oregano on the near end, compost covered with wood chips on the far end.

The material has many uses other than in the garden. Three composting wire columns will be filled to overflowing, two trash cans will act as composters, and what amounts to one 35 gallon receptacle will be dried.

The dried material will be used over the next year as a component of the bedding used in the Earthworm Colonies. It will be mixed with other dried organic material, leaves of all sorts, (no Eucalyptus however) dry Potato peels, cardboard torn/shredded, Paper shredded, and Garden waste. All of the seaweed will be employed as regular replenishing it will diminish by Winter.

Compost placed in the raised bed.
Mulch is then placed over it.

The weeds are in demand for use in the farming of Marijuana as well. They use it a bit differently, prior to use it will be shredded before it is set in the compost piles.

The limiting issue with the weeds is the harvesting is expensive, there are mechanical harvesters mainly built by the operators. However it is still expensive eliminating most people from hiring it done. There is also the issue of handling the heavy, bulky, smelly, and mildly toxic organic material. After handling many tons of it one operator/owner became ill and had to abandon the business. A mechanical harvester has not been seen on the slough or Island for at least 5 years. Consequently it is done by hand which is an enormous amount of work.

Some of the wet seaweed was placed on top of the box, it holds moisture as well as the wood chips.

I am unable to load it into the wagon or other receptacles, relying on the homeowners for help it appears the next opportunity to gather more will be this next weekend. That will be just fine as it will afford an opportunity to create more storage space, if I am able to locate more wire screen I’ll make more composting towers.

The Water Lilies along with the other weeds are sprayed by the state throughout the summer, after they are I will not use them or touch them. Under normal conditions they float on the surface thriving until August when they bloom and die. Sinking to the bottom they create an organic layer to be converted into Peat Moss in a few Centuries or so. Settling to the bottom they make a good habitat for Crawdads to hide under making them hard to see and nearly impossible to catch.

The Pumpkins are doing well, I should have plenty by Halloween, fertilized with Worm castings, compost under leaves and wood chips makes a good growing environment.

This slough is in the center of the California Water Wars and has been for over 100 years; the spraying is part of that war. It doesn’t matter where in the state one lives we are all affected by the water that flows past my house along our much loved Slough.

Jacques Lebec Earthworm Farming, Gardening and Composting.

One response to “Composting Seaweed”

  1. Water weeds are so strange. No danger here as none swim where they end up – unlike in other areas.
    Our lake gets all sorts of weeds floating down after big rains/storms. The birds walk/sit on the green rafts, turtles poke their heads in and out of it, and as it sinks the fish and snakes enjoy the green tangle. The sunken gloop slowly makes the water more and shallow – much to the gators delight. Eventually they will move in the barge and scoop it out – but it is an interesting evolving environment

    Liked by 1 person

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