Seaweed can do magical things to your garden. Plants sprout fresh green life, moistened, fed and protected by their nutritious water-dwelling relatives.
If you’re teaching your kids how to grow plants, gathering seaweed is a gardening project that will delight them. Collecting flora and fauna at the seaside is one of those fun activities for kids that never get old. You can make the adventure a nature school lesson, too: you can tell them about sustainability issues, how to help preserve local eco systems, and how the buildup of trash is affecting our oceans. If you’re homeschooling, you can take the learning a step further by holding a biology lesson where kids pick a specimen on their collection route to study and diagram. Or as a productive learning experience for toddlers, get them to simply repeat the names of their finds, and their colors and shapes.
So if you live close to the sea or are planning a vacation by the coast, set aside a few happy hours (preferably just after a storm) when you can ramble together down the shore, reveling in the fresh air and gathering up some of this gardening treasure.
You can use seaweed for mulch, compost or fertilizer.
It offers all the usual mulch perks – just don’t mix it into the soil.
The saltiness and sharp edges of seaweed repel slugs and snails.
It contains no weed seeds.
The 60 trace elements found in seaweed enrich your soil.
It releases hormones that stimulate plant growth.
Here’s how to collect seaweed for enriching your garden.
some plastic buckets with handles and lids
or water-draining bags like onion sacks or burlap bags, and large containers that you can put them in when you’re transporting them in your car.
Here are some things to remember when gathering seaweed.
First, ask about local regulations regarding picking up local flora and fauna.
Don’t tear seaweed off the rocks. Living seaweed provides shelter and sustenance to marine wildlife. Rather, collect weeds that have washed up on the beach, or is floating loose in the shallows. They will be particularly plentiful after a storm.
Collect seaweed from midway up the beach, or from the waterline, rather than from the high tide line. Weeds which are found high up on the beach are not only often partly decayed – which means they smell pungent and are jumping with bugs – they also inhibit erosion.
Collect only about a third from each patch of seaweed, as these seaweed “gardens” are an essential part of the local ecosystem.
If you’re concerned about the salt from these marine plants mixing into your soil, you can rinse the seaweed off when you get home. However, most people who use seaweed in their gardens say they haven’t found that the salt affects their plants. You can turn the seaweed into a powerful fertilizer tea by steeping it in water for up to a year. You can compost it by mixing it with dry organic matter. Or, you can lay it out around your plants as a highly nutritious mulch.
Collecting seaweed and then laying it out in the garden is an exciting way to get your kids to start helping you in your gardening endeavors. Investing in a children’s gardening set will make it easier for little hands to garden. Our set includes a small watering can, child-sized gardening tools (a high quality, metal-tipped spade, rake and trowel), biodegradable peat pots for seedlings, plant labels and a canvas garden tool bag to keep it all in.
· Seaweed is a broad spectrum fertilizer that is rich in beneficial trace minerals and hormones that stimulate plant growth. Seaweed is high in carbohydrates which are essential building blocks in growing plants, and low in cellulose so it breaks down readily. Seaweed shares no diseases with land plants.
· Boosts lethargic plants Seaweed fertilizer contains an abundance of fully chelated (ready to use) micro-nutrients which can be readily absorbed by plants without any further chemical decomposition needed.
Rinse salt out if you live in very dry area, seaweed is salty and you’re concerned about raining soil’s salt content.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.