Algae in the garden

by Pippa Greenwood

I've always been fascinated by algae. These simple organisms take so many forms... But right now they've gone too far...

I've always been fascinated by algae. These simple organisms take so many forms. Some are accurate indicators of water pollution, and some, like the blue-green alga spirulina, are a brilliant source of vitamin B12. But right now they've gone too far. The recent wet weather has left just about everything in my garden covered in water, and as temperatures have been mild, algae has spread.

The soil here is clay, which I've spent many years improving with garden compost, manure and leaf mould. Algae and some mosses have appeared in a few of the less well tended areas. It doesn't look good, but as it would wreck the soil structure if I went out in these wet conditions with a fork, I'm leaving them for the time being.

But the paths and patio area are the real nightmare spots. A thriving film of thin algae coats them, making them almost as slippery as sheet ice. I'll be wearing crampons soon! Today is sunny and dry, so I'll be out there with the stiffest yard broom I can find, scrubbing away at the algae and trying to make the main pathways a little safer. Special cleaners are available, but I'm worried they might leach in to nearby soil and cause yet more damage to the soil micro-organisms.

A little bit of salt can help too, but only in areas away from plants. In these areas I'll use a bucket of sand, casting the thinnest possible layer over the surface of the stone paved areas. Removing algae is very hard work, but at least it's good exercise...

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Gardeners' World Web User 16/12/2009 at 16:57

You could be sitting on a fortune,Pippa - algae is the new black gold of the energy world. But I do agree it can be slippery on the drive however. better to get it off before a covering of snow makes it really treacherous.

Gardeners' World Web User 18/12/2009 at 01:50

too late to do anything about the garden now, already under snow for how long I wonder, quiet a few inches out there already, algae, pestalence, rain snow frost and fog, what a year it's been. Happy Christmas and a great New Year, to you all.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:40

My garden too has been under a snow blanket for a few days. I don't know about algae but my pond is frozen so i expect the water based onea are gone at least. I have had your on line scapbook for a year now and find it helpful. Every week i learn something new and have tried out some things with sucess. As a beginner i find the projects particularly helpful. Happy Christmas to all the team and good gardening in 2010 to all fellow readers.