Seaweed is every beachgoer's nightmare, but every gardener's dream. Many amateur gardeners aren’t aware of how valuable this kelpie-concoction is to their beds. So here is the rundown of why seaweed acts as such great mulch:
Layered in a new bed along with soil, compost and composted animal manure, seaweed provides an abundance of beneficial trace minerals, hormones and carbohydrates that stimulate plant growth.
When combined with soil, seaweed improves overall aeration in the bed as it breaks down, providing room for earthworms and beneficial nematodes to do their work. The sand that often is clinging to the seaweed lightens the soil, too.
Used as a top-dressing or mulch, seaweed retains ample moisture and keeps weeds at bay.
Best of all, it's FREE!
There is a common misconception that salt in the seaweed has a negative impact on the garden's soil. Studies show that salt content is negligible and does no harm to the garden. Farmers along the coasts around the world have been using seaweed on their garden beds for hundreds of years – they know what they are doing! If you have any concerns, you can always let the seaweed sit through a couple of good rainfalls before spreading it on your beds.
We routinely make trips to the beaches along the shoreline to collect seaweed by the truckload. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s DEFINITELY worth the lingering scent of fish that clings to you for the rest of the day. Acting as both an aerobic workout and a neighborly good deed of cleaning the beaches, collecting and distributing seaweed is something we continue to do for our gardens after their initial builds. This week, we delivered loads to Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and CB Jennings Elementary School in New London. We work in partnership with their FoodCorps volunteers to provide plants and amendments, such as seaweed, for their school gardens. So the next time you’re swimming near the shore or taking a stroll along the sand and are interrupted by a murky mess of green, contact a local gardener! They will thank you!