We spent last weekend camping near a beach covered with washed up seaweed. Seaweed is full of nutrients – reputed to be as good as fresh manure for the earth – so before leaving, we collected a rubbermaid full of seaweed for the garden. The kids collected (and returned) a bucket full of fish from the tidepools.
We live on the West Coast, so mulching with seaweed seems like a given, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until now.
Seaweed can be applied directly to the garden as a layer of mulch or it can be added to the compost. A tonic can also be made by filling a barrel half way with the seaweed and adding water. After sitting three months, this is similar to the commercially available seaweed fertilizer formulas.
Impatience and lack of organization negate the possibility of making tonic right now. And as much as I’d love to mulch, I’m not going to for two reasons:
- We didn’t rinse the salt from the seaweed with freshwater. The salt can be harmful to the garden and can kill the worms. In the rainy winter months, the effect is negligible, but during the summer months adding a lot of salt to the garden isn’t a great idea. That said, that’s way too much work for this busy mama!
- Apparently seaweed is rich in growth hormone and shouldn’t be applied late in the growing season. We might mulch with seaweed in the early fall, when the winter garden is just starting and the other beds are replenishing.
So the seaweed is going into the compost. I’ll let you know how that turns out…
Collecting seaweed is as easy as anything. The variety of seaweed is inconsequential and many types varieties can be found on most beaches. The one and only steadfast rule is respect. Seaweed is an important part of the aquaculture and removing it can be harmful to the natural balance of the environment. So,
- NEVER take live seaweed. ONLY take seaweed from the beach.
- RINSE the seaweed gently in the ocean to release aquatic organisms back into the water.
- LEAVE plenty of seaweed on the beach. Dried seaweed is a home and harbor to many creatures, if you take it all they are left without cover.