The local gardening columnist, Carla Allen, wrote recently in The Shelburne County Coast Guard about the power of seaweed applied to garden soil. Winter is seaweed-scavenging time, she wrote, since the late fall storms rip the seaweed from its beds and cast it upon the shore. It's there for the taking. She encouraged southwest Nova Scotia gardeners to go out there and get it, and to apply it directly to the garden, now. It will break down by planting time, she promised, and make your soil very happy.
On McNutt's Island the seaweed is mainly harvested by the wild sheep. They spend most of winter eating kelp out along the island's rocky shores. That's what they live on until the new growth of spring broadens their menu options. But there is enough seaweed to go around. So today I took Carla's advice and went harvesting, down at the cove. I covered about half the vegetable beds with several inches of rich dark seaweed, and tomorrow, if the weather stays so nice, I will finish the task. This winter gift from the sea will provide good things to our island garden soil.