Hartley Magazine

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Slippery Paths – Getting Rid of Algae – Part 15

We’ve had so much rain in the last few weeks that the greenhouse has been a haven from the elements. The gutters on my greenhouse were filled with needles from next door’s ancient cedar of Lebanon and when it rained they overflowed violently. It didn’t take long to clear them out and free up the water flow to the downpipes. Even though it has rained outside it is so important not to neglect overwintering plants in the greenhouse that will not have been reached by the rain. A couple of sunny days quickly dries out the compost that plants are growing in and so it is important to make sure that they have the water they need. Don’t over water as roots are prone to rotting or freezing when the weather is cold. Keep dahlia tubers and other overwintering corms dry and protected from frost.

The recent torrential rain has encouraged a build up of algae on the hard surfaces around my garden. The path to the greenhouse is treacherous when wet and desperately needs dealing with. Like most gardeners I want a quick fix solution. I’m not a big fan of most chemicals, preferring to deal with garden problems naturally, allowing nature to redress the balance and only tackling problems when they have become a major problem.

The issue of algae is a tricky one and I’ve heard of some terrible ways that some garden owners employ to get rid of it. My paths are getting dangerous and I don’t want to have a spectacular fall. For many years I’ve used the very effective but extremely smelly approach to clean away algae on the paving, otherwise known as Armillatox Soap Based Outdoor Cleaner (www.armillatox.co.uk). It’s made from naturally occurring ingredients and biodegrades completely after use. You simply dilute it in a watering can and apply the dilute solution to the affected area during a dry spell and that’s it. You don’t need to rub or scrub or brush the paving, you simply wet it and forget it. It works a treat and very quickly the danger has passed, with actually very little effort on my part. It even cleans away thick unsightly algae leaving the paving underneath clean and grippy again. It’s best to wait for a few dry days so that the area treated doesn’t get washed with rain that will further dilute the solution, so check the weather forecast before you use it.

As with all garden chemicals and cleaners it’s really important to follow the instructions to the letter and keep any pets away from the treated area while it is wet. I also use Armillatox to clean pots, staging and trays in the greenhouse. It gets them clean and ready for when I want to start sowing and growing again and saves precious time when there is still so much to do. Of course it’s not the only product that suitable for this purpose, but as it’s the only one I have used extensively and have some experience of. I know it works so I have had no need to search for an alternative. As with all things in gardening you need to do your research, talk to other gardeners and then try the methods that best suit your needs. But PLEASE don’t use anything that isn’t designed for the purpose and remember that everything you apply to any part of your garden has a good chance of washing into the soil, the drains and even local water sources and if it’s not a dedicated outdoor cleaner then it could end up having detrimental effect on your plants and gardens and even the planet. Just take a minute to think where all the waste that goes down your drains ends up. It’s not a bottomless pit, it has to go somewhere.

  • Steve Robinson

    I like the idea of this path cleaner and your views on chemical use . I’ll definitely look into this as we have a patio that surrounds our house in East Sussex . Because we are in the middle of farmland we get battered by the rain and the algae builds up . The paths are like ice rinks ! Thanks for the tip .