The short version of this love fest for seaweed follows...
In edible terms, the many forms of aquatic plants are called 'sea vegetables', and you'll find the likes of dulse, kombu, wakame and more in shops.
Like vegetables they are bursting with minerals and oh so good for you — even if you only have some wrapped around sushi sometimes.
Seaweed in the garden, how do I love thee... let me count the ways:
Firstly, there is no need to wash seaweed because the sand and salt water clinging to it contains essential elements that will benefit plants. Unless you happen to have a high sodium content in your soil, remember, there is no need to wash seaweed before using it in or on your garden.
Secondly, don't try cutting seaweed up with a mower because there are stones, sand and shells hiding in it.
Thirdly, dry and hard seaweed is just as phenomenal for plant growth as when it's wet and soft. The older and harder it is, obviously the longer it will take to break down and supply nutrients to the soil for feeding your plants.
Fourthly, many countries have rules about protecting their marine coastlines, which includes the harvesting of seaweed. Commercial operators you are not, so it's unlikely you will deplete this resource by strolling along the local beach and filling up a bag with seaweed.
However check beforehand, and if you can't find any information about your area, or there are no notices on the beach, follow these guidelines:
It is fine to pluck floating seaweed and seaweed below the high tide mark. Seaweed that has washed up above the high tide mark often makes a valuable contribution to the biodiversity of the beach and surrounds. It helps stops sand erosion and provides a habitat for local plant and insect life.
And lastly, there is concern that polluted waters pollute the sea life also. Sadly fish certainly have accumulations of medicines, farming chemicals, heavy metals such as mercury and zinc. Be aware that seaweed could be also so aim to get it from unpolluted water.
Now get your creative juices flowing... because seaweed is so versatile, here are some tried and tested ways gardeners and farmers, have used seaweed. . . .
Green algae is a form of seaweed
On a larger scale, use a net onion bag or a porous sack to hold seaweed and put it in, or tie it to hang in a larger barrel or rubbish bin of water. After using the compost tea, you can reuse the seaweed several times with fresh water, then put the seaweed in the compost or use on your garden.
Giant kelp floating in the ocean
The above method to make seaweed tea means you will need to keep it away from the house due to the strong smell.
To make a more beneficial seaweed compost tea containing active organisms, and eliminate smells you will need an aerator to oxygenate it, or buy some Microbial Inoculant to generate microbial activity.
Both of these can be bought at garden centres or online. For simple, cheap oxygen machines try pet shops that sell fish tank equipment. Follow the instructions to set these systems up and you will produce supreme liquid seaweed fertilizer.
If the liquid is too dark, dilute the seaweed tea with water until it is normal tea coloured, then spray on plants. Seaweed compost tea can be applied to the roots of plants or foliar fed on leaves. It's not likely to hurt plants if too strong; it's more a waste of good nutrients that can't be utilized.
As well as supplying nutrients for leaves to absorb, seaweed tea sprayed or misted onto leaves, inhibits pests, viruses and fungal problems such as mildew and blight.
What about other no dig garden materials? Learn about leafmulch; mull over manure ideas; would wood ash work wonders. Hurry here: No Dig Materials