All You Need to Know About Seaweed Fertilizer
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Seaweed Fertilizer? Since the beginning of modern times, man has sought to improve the quality and quantity of the array of flowers and produce in his garden. Countless attempts at fertilizers and gardening tricks have been tried – some more successful than others.
As odd as it may seem, seaweed fertilizer is among the most prized Master Gardener tricks. We’ll take a look at a brief history of how seaweed has been used in the garden as well as the characteristics and uses of this most fascinating sea product.
What Is Seaweed Fertilizer?
The use of seaweed has been part of the history of seacoast countries for centuries. In England, there is a trade called vraicking in the Channel Islands, where seaweed is harvested and then dried before it is sorted for different uses, including fertilizer.
In times past in Ireland, the soil was lifted in rows, and then they placed down seaweed before the soil was laid back down. Not practiced so much anymore, this is how potatoes were planted and cultivated. To this day, Ireland cultivates and harvests some 35,000 tons of an estimated 500+ species of seaweed and kelp as a small part of their coastal industries.
Why seaweed is such a fantastic additive to gardens, then and now, is because the world’s oceans contain every element known to humanity. Naturally, sea plants will avail themselves of this, making them an ideal amendment for the garden.
It’s the popular choice for conscientious gardeners who want an all-natural plant-based product to add to their soil in junction with other natural sources of fertilizer. It doesn’t have the negative “news” of big industry name brand chemical synthesized fertilizers with all the questionable by-products and pollution that come with processing and manufacturing.
It’s interesting to note how seaweed fertilizer is used. It can be directly added to your soil as mulch to your garden around and between the plants, although it breaks down very rapidly.
It can be added to your compost bin, too, to add great richness and friability to the overall humus. You can also make it into a “tea” either from the liquid extracts or the powder forms available. This is then misted onto the leaves as a foliar feed.
Seaweed has had a long and productive history in gardens worldwide. You may be fortunate enough to find it near your home if you live near the sea. But for the rest of you, who may not have this convenience, visit your local nursery or garden supply and ask for kelp meal or another product based on seaweed. And while you’re there, ask them to give you some tips on how to add it to your garden to give it new life.
The Benefits of Using Organic Seaweed Fertilizer
If you want to go for a blue ribbon at the fair next summer, then you may want to learn a few new gardening tricks. Perhaps you haven’t heard of using organic seaweed fertilizer before – but now we’ll take a look at what this humble (if not smelly) sea vegetation can do for what you grow in your garden!
Seaweeds affect the soil by building it, adding much-needed minerals, and starches that feed the humus. After discovering what seaweed can do, you may find yourself ready to head off to the local garden shop to grab a bag or bottle of this simple yet effective fertilizer.
While seaweed and kelps have a bulky appearance when they are fresh, much like any land vegetation, it looks sort of sad and limp when it dries. But like the land vegetation, if added to the soil, it supplies a vast array of nutrients, not the least of which are alginates, which are the starches in seaweed. Although the alginates don’t bulk up the soil much, they act to clump soil particles and hold moisture near the roots, which is what you want.
Like tiny sponges, these starches hold onto the microscopic water droplets. Experts tell us that plants don’t like “wet feet” or have the root system not drain well. Yet moisture must be available to the roots in minuscule amounts. Enter the seaweed – a perfect answer to this problem.
A second important benefit of these alginates is that they act to feed the microorganisms that live in the soil, which in turn break down the soil so that the roots may better assimilate it.
Before any plant root system can take in any nutrients, these potential nutrients must be chelated or made “user friendly” for those roots. The tiny bacteria that live near the plant’s roots feed on these starches supplied by vegetation such as seaweeds.
For anyone desiring an all-natural way to bring nutrients to their plants, seaweed products are the best choice. As you know, the sea contains a complete array of minerals. Because of this, seaweeds are a complete source of plant-based minerals.
These plant-based minerals are more quickly assimilated by the plant’s root system and, therefore, the whole plant. Besides an organic garden, kelp meal or seaweed fertilizers can make the difference between a so-so garden and a vibrant, healthy garden.
As you might expect, much like taking vitamins and minerals to help our body’s health, so it goes for your garden. It’s long been known that our vast farmlands’ soils have been depleted of essential elements due to the over-raising of crops and exhausting the soil. When added to the full complement of soil amendments, seaweed can improve soil and thus increase the quality and quantity of produce.
It stands to reason that by adding seaweed fertilizer to your own organic garden, you’ll begin to notice remarkable changes as your garden soil as well as your plants take in the minerals and trace elements that seaweeds provide. Why not join the few who know that adding organic seaweed fertilizer to your garden can mean the difference between average output and fabulous?
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Seaweed Fertilizer Works Well With Container Gardening
Since the beginning of time, plant lovers have sought ways to bring the beauty and freshness of plants and greenery into and nearer the home. But with this brings a unique set of problems such as what to feed and how to feed these container plants.
Here is where seaweed fertilizers can really shine. The characteristics of seaweed are well suited to container gardening as it contains a nice balance of nutrients that you can add to your potting soil when first planting and regular feedings.
Master gardeners and common folks alike who love the thought of growing thriving, healthy plants with the convenience of containers on their porch or patio must concern themselves with the unique needs of plants that are grown in confined quarters. Good potting soil considers this by making sure there’s a proper mix of peat, tiny stones, and soil.
Adding kelp meal to the mix before your plant can aid the moisture retention of the potting mix while at the same time not allowing the soil to become heavy. In this way, your plants can enjoy the benefits of the mineral content as well as the starches of the seaweed or kelp meal.
Anyone who has done container gardening for long knows that plants planted in such a way have a different need for watering than for plants grown in the ground. Since most plant roots don’t like to be wet or bone dry, the container gardener must add water on a timely basis.
It makes sense to add fertilizer to the watering liquid from time to time to replace the depleted minerals and enzymes in the potting soil. Liquid forms of seaweed fertilizers are a natural form of plant supplement, unlike name brand fertilizers that are a “chemical Koolaid” for plants. Be sure to follow label instructions before applying.
Another way seaweed fertilizer works with potted plants is to use a diluted solution of a unique extract, which is then either sprayed on the leaves of the plants or “watered” on the soil regularly.
As it is called, Foliar feeding is a common trick of Master Gardeners that is just becoming more prevalent as the public learns about the amazing benefits of misting the leaves of their plants on occasion.
The tiny pores on the upper and lower sides of leaves allow the plant to take in nutrients at the source if you will. Seaweed fertilizers have an ideal balance of nutrients that are well suited to this type of plant feeding.
You must read labels to get the dilution right because you don’t want to “burn” the plants.
But gardeners can notice a considerable difference in leaf and flower quality within days using this special treatment.
For those who love the convenience of container gardening and also desire an all-natural plant food, seaweed fertilizer may be just the thing that’s missing from your home greenhouse arsenal.
Seaweed Fertilizer with a Liquid Fish Extract
Adding fertilizer to soil has been practiced for as long as gardeners have gardened! We may remember that the American Indians taught the new settlers to add fish to the holes where they were adding corn seeds from our history lessons.
Since then, we’ve found more convenient ways to use this same practice. Only now can we find fish combined with seaweed! Why a fish emulsion? Adding fish by-products to your garden brings a quick burst of nitrogen as a foliar feed.
It also brings a fair amount of P and K. The fish bones supply calcium, which contributes to strong cell structure and helps balance pH in the soil. When you use the combined qualities of fish emulsion and seaweed’s vast army of trace elements and plant hormones, you’re bound to see some positive benefits.
Professional gardeners say a seaweed/fish fertilizer combo is to a plant is like pizza is to humans!
It’s most common to find the components – fish emulsion and seaweed meal or extracts – separately.
They come in both dried and liquid forms. But some brands come with both together, so look for seaweed/fish emulsions wherever you find specialty fertilizers.
As you would expect, you can find fish emulsion and seaweed fertilizer through nursery outlets. It’s also available through retail establishments online. But for the do-it-yourselfer, you can try your hand at mixing up a batch at home!
Start with a large bucket that’s filled halfway with sawdust and seaweed meal. Add canned or fresh fish parts, then cover in a water solution and a healthy dose of molasses and a tablespoon of Epsom salts. You’ll want to cover this as it gets ripe. Stir every few days for 1 or 2 weeks.
After the brewing time, add water to dilute, then use the liquid to water your plants or foliar feed (1:1 on the roots and 1:5 on the leaves). Then don’t waste the dregs. Apply them to your garden or in your compost pile.
There are many great websites online that give greater detail on this topic. Just type “fish emulsion and seaweed fertilizer” into your favorite search engine, and you’ll find several sources that will provide you with more fascinating facts about fish and seaweed garden additives.
It may seem odd to those who are unfamiliar with gardening, but to those who know how soils and plants work, using a seaweed and fish mixture makes good sense. The all-natural source of trace elements and starches in seaweed plus the high nitrogen and calcium content in fish parts make this combo a gardener’s “dynamic duo.”
Where Can I Buy Seaweed Fertilizer?
If you’re aware of the great benefits of using seaweed and kelp fertilizers in your garden, then it might encourage you to know that it’s reasonably easy to get your hands on. It may be as simple as taking a walk on the beach, but you can find the different forms of seaweed products at your local nursery or garden shop, too. Or you can buy it through the Internet for those who enjoy the convenience of online shopping.
You can certainly avail yourself of the seaweeds and kelps of your local beaches. If you happen to be fortunate enough to live near the coastline, why not take along a large bucket to collect it in?
It can be added whole and fresh right from a local source. Or it can be used as mulch added between plants in your garden. Since seaweed is typically 70% water, it breaks down very quickly. Don’t forget to rinse this of the seawater because the saltiness discourages earthworms.
Take care to use only seaweeds that are harvested in waters that aren’t contaminated by pollution.
You’ll also want to check local regulations on harvesting seaweeds and vegetables since some beaches have been over-harvested, or there may be notable concerns with pollution in the water.
There are more convenient ways to buy seaweed fertilizer for those who don’t have a local source or don’t care to harvest it fresh. It’s as simple as buying it by the bag or bottle at your local garden store or nursery.
A common form is called kelp meal, which is a dried granular form of sea fertilizer. This would be suited to adding to your potting soil before planting or turning into your beds as you prepare to plant in the spring.
Look for other kinds of seaweed fertilizers in both liquid and powdered forms. These are the ones most commonly used for foliar feeding or watering on the soil. Each comes with its own unique recipe that makes its product different.
When you can’t find a product locally or just like the convenience of ordering your product online, many retail and wholesale outlets sell seaweed fertilizer products. You may even find a greater variety online.
If you have any questions at all about where to buy seaweed fertilizers, remember you can contact a gardening group in your county or on the ‘net. Ask them about their favorite seaweed fertilizer product and how they may use it in their gardens, and any special information for your locality and the particular plant in question. This way, you can know how to use the various best products out there and find out where to buy them.