If you live near the sea here are a few tips on utilising a valuable free resource for your garden. Seaweed is almost good as farmyard manure, although it is lower in phosphates but richer in potash. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals
The best time to collect seaweed for use in the garden is right after a storm as the newly washed up seaweed has less salt in it than weed which has been lurking in a harbour for weeks. If it smells clean and fresh use it, if it pongs walk away. Only collect loose seaweed do not pull it off of rocks, by doing so you will be making numerous sea creatures homeless and damaging the eco system. Give it a quick swish in the sea and a shake to remove any residents. It is best to wash the seaweed with fresh water or leave in the rain for a couple of days to get more of the salt out, worms don’t like it and it kills them if strong enough, same principle as putting salt on slugs. Photo: Max Blinkhorn
Make your own Liquid Seaweed Feed
A well known brand of liquid seaweed extract or growth stimulant costs about £7 per litre, you could make your own for free. Get a 10 gallon plastic drum/container, half fill it with seaweed, top up the container with water and let it stand for 3 months, that is the optimum time, I do know people who have used it after a few weeks. Strain off the liquid and add about a cupful to 2 gallons of water, do not be tempted to make it any stronger or you could burn the roots of your plants. Think I might stitch up an old net curtain to make a bag and put the seaweed in that so I don’t have to strain it, then I can put the used seaweed residue on the compost heap. It is quicker and decomposes better if you chop the seaweed up first. You can of course make it in smaller amounts, just use any suitable container for the space you have available.
Seaweed is an excellent compost activator, so adding it to you compost heap will add nutrients and more organic matter to your compost.
You can also use a 4″ – 6″ layer of seaweed as a mulch for shrubs and roses, although you might get a few complaints from near neighbours as it starts to rot down.
Seaweed improves the structure of clay soils, think it is the alginates in the seaweed helps break it up so it does not clump so much.