Seaweed comes from the ocean and is something generally found either floating in shallow waters or dried up on the beach surrounded by swarming flies. Although most of us don’t give it a second thought when out for a walk along the shore, farmers and gardeners living near the sea have been harvesting seaweed and using it to grow crops for thousands of years.
Why? Because seaweed isn’t just the coating that wraps up rice, fish and vegetables when eating sushi; it’s one of the best organic fertilizers found anywhere.
Although there are many outstanding fertilizing products on the market, some are made of chemicals and in the long run do more harm than good to both plants and soil. Seaweed, on the other hand, grows in the depths of the ocean naturally and is a non-cellulose based plant, which means it breaks down easily allowing its many nutrients to be absorbed into the ground at a faster pace.
For all practical purposes, providing the area you get seaweed from isn’t polluted, it’s as natural an organic fertilizer as you’ll find and is an especially good ingredient for the compost heap.
If you go to the beach with a few plastic trash bags or buckets looking for seaweed and don’t find much don’t fret; there’s usually plenty to go around. The ocean is like a great field where it grows in abundance and if you look carefully enough by the shore or just in the water you’ll find some excellent specimens.
An especially good time to go looking for seaweed is just after a storm when waves have pushed piles of it on the open beach.
Just keep in mind that when making a selection the best specimens are the fresh and still wet scarf-like extended fleshy ones, as opposed to the partly dry or dry pieces which aren’t very alive.
It’s easily applied:
Once seaweed is brought home, one way to apply it is to lay it on the ground around plants. Doing so helps it act as mulch and when it dries up and decomposes, its nutrients will be absorbed directly into the soil.
Alternatively, take a few pieces weighing around half a pound and put them in a large covered pail with about five gallons of water. After the seaweed sits there for a few days it makes a solution which can be poured into a spray bottle and sprayed on the leaves of plants. The leaves absorb the nutrients through a process called foliar feeding.
NOTE: If you’re wondering about salt content in seaweed and how it may affect your soil consider this: since its being used on a small scale, it’s unlikely to do any harm. Some people wash down seaweed before placing it around plants, but it’s not necessary, especially when it comes to the typical kitchen garden.
Seaweed is Kid-friendly
One of the best things about seaweed is it’s a kid friendly plant and collecting it for the garden can be a fun beach outing for the entire family.
Getting everyone involved in giving plants a little extra ‘oomph’ creates a unique experience that will always be remembered and when the young ones grow up they’ll likely want to try it out with the next generation.
Far from the sea?
Finally, even if one lives far from the sea seaweed pellets can be purchased for gardens and though it’s not the same as pulling it out of the water it does the job. The main thing to keep watch on is that the brand you choose is 100 percent seaweed without chemical additives.
If buying dried seaweed isn’t up your alley, another alternative to the real stuff is making a solution similar to the kind mentioned earlier, but this time with nori, the sheets of edible seaweed used for sushi. The solution can then be applied to plants through foliar feeding with a spray bottle.
Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for Networx.com. He writes about eco-friendly topics for pros across the U.S. like fence contractors in Richmond, VA and Ontario, CA. Image source @ SeanMcgrath.