Seagrass identification problem

mike_jw(London. UK)August 21, 2012

I've been looking around for any type of woven baskets etc to compost the natural fibre material they're made from.

I understand that Seagrass is one such fibre but, while doing a search on Google, I found this information:

"Beware if using excessive amounts of Seagrass as compost: it has a high Boron content that may lead to toxic plant levels, predisposing those who eat them to stomach cancer. Kelp is a better choice."

My problem is, how do I identify Seagrass among all the other natural fibres that are used?

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I will guess that 'seagrass' is another name for 'eelgrass', perhaps? What we call eelgrass here in new england is a long flat leaf that grows in shallow brackish water. I would imagine some equivalent is very common around Britain.

I never heard that about the Boron before, interesting.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 7:27AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

mike_jw - I'm intrigued as to why you want to compost baskets? Can you let us know your thinking? Are you intending to buy baskets to compost? I can't see the logic in that.

'Seagrass' is used for mats and baskets sold here. But I'm pretty certain they are not made fom material gathered here, pnbrown. The link says it is not harvested from the sea but grown in paddy fields in China. The fact that it has to be imported makes it even stranger to want to compost it.

I have occasionally put old baskets and mats on the compost heap but only because I had them to get rid of. I wouldn't bother to seek them out specifically. I wouldn't have thought the amount of seagrass you can obtain would have much effect on your garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: seagrass

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 7:46AM
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mike_jw(London. UK)


I obviously come under the heading of 'Compost Nut' as the Americans say!

Joking aside, no, I don't buy such things, but people do throw broken ones out, and any wickerwork/cane items make good 'brown' materials along with straw etc.

I don't know for sure if the items I have are made from Seagrass, and I'm sure there must be many other natural materials that are used for making Laundry baskets etc.

I only found the reference to Boron while trying to find out the Carbon-Nitrogen ratio of Seagrass, but it's quite possible that there is more than one Seagrass. After all, what's in a common name.

Thank you for your reply.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 10:34AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I see, Mike. As I said I've stuck basketwork and cane items on the heap occasionally. I've also got rid of a coconut door mat and the stuffing from an ancient mattress (some sort of fibre, possibly coconut) via the compost heap. I don't think I'd sweat the Boron thing. The quantities would be tiny. If it ever grew, on either a plant or an animal, I'd compost it. I don't consider this behaviour 'nutty'. Seems like common sense to me ;-)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:24PM
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mike_jw(London. UK)

It is 'nutty' when you spend ages pulling these baskets apart!

I did do a couple of Bamboo screens, but it's so laborious to cutting the wire that secures the canes that I've crossed them off my list!
I also considered composting an old coconut mat but the fibres were attached to some sort of backing, so I dropped the idea.

The other day I came accross a Bamboo shelving unit dumped in the street. Sure, it took a while to dismantle but, at the end, I ended up with a bag of thin Bamboo strips, and enough thin canes to last my wife a lifetime to support her indoor plants. I'm sure it would only have ended up in landfill - along with thousands of similar articles.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 1:53PM
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I'm more interested in this Boron possibility, since I gather eelgrass off the beach after storms from time to time. Boron is vanishingly low in our soils so a plant source high in B would be good. Especially if a time comes that borax isn't available cheap.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:53PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Boron compounds such as borax and boric acid are used as fire retardants, among other things. A friend of mine used compost which had some mattress stuffing in it and the soil was ruined for a very long time.

If your soil is deficient in boron, use some Boraxo or the like. But use it sparingly.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 9:29PM
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I've been mulching and spading in eelgrass very heavily, as much as I can, for many years, and my garden soil test came back deficient in Boron. So maybe our (East Coast) eelgrass is a different species.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:52AM
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