Seaweed fertilizer is well-known as an amendment for the garden. I’ve bought and used seaweed fertilizer before in the form of kelp meal. There are popular concentrates, such as those made by Neptune’s Harvest, which will really get your plants going strong.
But what if you’re cheap?
What if you just pick up seaweed for free on the beach, then add it to the garden?
Over time, it rots down and feed the plants. I decided to do that in this recently planted garden bed, then leave the bed next to it without seaweed. Now we should if adding seaweed makes a difference in plant growth.
Seaweed is full of micronutrients, so adding it as mulch to a garden makes sense. I didn’t have enough to fully mulch this time so I went ahead and just made little rings around the plants. I also rinsed the seaweed three times to ensure the seedlings wouldn’t get too much salt.
Now we’ll see over time what happens – my favorite kind of gardening. We’ll get some ocean minerals in there, and I bet the vegetables are going to taste better.
By the way, if you don’t own a copy of Steve Solomon and Erica Reinheimer’s The Intelligent Gardener, you should get a copy. It’s quite inspiring.
Soon I’ll show you my other amendments to these beds. Stay tuned.
I’m sold on using seaweed fertilizer, whether fresh or purchased – and as people try it for themselves, they’re also learning its benefits.
As commenter Guian Millares writes:
“Dude it worked!!! My plants have grown very well with washed seaweeds! I use or twice everyweek and it is working awesome! Ive never had such growth before!! wow! Thanks man! God bless you….never listen to those who say negative things on you…You are doing great! God bless you.”
Thank you! God has blessed me and continues to do so. And I count the abundance of free local seaweed as one of those blessings.
A year ago I posted this video on making and using seaweed fertilizer in the garden:
Which reminds me: I have some new garden beds that could really benefit from some seaweed application. I’ll have to take a couple sacks with me next time I hit the beach with the family.
If you live far from the beach or don’t feel like hauling bags of seaweed, you can get good seaweed fertilizers on Amazon. Neptune’s Harvest is a popular one and is really rich since it’s a mix of both seaweed and fish. Fish emulsion is like magic in the garden – and when you mix it with seaweed, you’re really adding the bounty of the ocean to your plants. They go crazy. In fact, my friend Jo the Master Gardener once told me that fish emulsion is the way to grow truly awesome organic strawberries in Florida. It greens them up and makes them fruit without encouraging leaf growth over fruit.
Another option that I used to use on my beds in North/Central Florida was kelp meal. It’s loaded with minerals and a little goes a long way. I don’t know if kelp is totally safe post-Fukushima, but I haven’t heard anything really scary lately.
I used kelp meal as part of the fertilizer mix I used to grow these amazing cabbages:
I followed the directions for making COF (Complete Organic Fertilizer) which Steve Solomon writes about in Gardening When it Counts. Once I had my mix, I sprinkled it all down the beds, raked it in, put down a weed barrier, punched holes, then planted cabbage seedlings. They did better than any I’ve grown before or since. Absolutely beautiful heads.
Seaweed was part of that. Consider it a multivitamin for your garden, loaded with micronutrients. The big three – NPK – are the main course – and seaweed has those, but not in huge amounts – but seaweed is really rich in the little things which add to the overall health of your plants.
How to Make and Use Seaweed Fertilizer
So, you have some seaweed and want to try it out? Here are three good options.
Option #1: Seaweed as Mulch
Take the seaweed, rinse it out, then use it as mulch. That works nicely and breaks down over time. Maritime Gardening agrees:
Option #2: Compost it!
Put seaweed directly into the compost pile. Consider it a “green” layer. I don’t bother rinsing it when I do this, figuring the salt on it will work its way through.
Option #3: Make Liquid Seaweed Fertilizer
You’ve seen me do this before with weeds, manure, kitchen scraps, etc.:
But you can do it with seaweed as well. It’s a great additive – or it can be used all by itself.
This is a very good video where a man does the same method I do, but with comfrey and other northern leaves, along with seaweed:
Hey, that guy looks way more pro than me. I should send him a T-shirt.
This morning I went to go look at a piece of land. It’s perhaps a little over a quarter acre, but is likely pretty affordable. If it is, I am interested. Even a quarter acre in the tropics can feed a family when well-tended.
I also posted a video yesterday which I was quite happy with. I know, there’s not a lot to it – but it’s funny.
Yesterday I also made it out to a local agricultural supply place.
On one side, there are pots and seeds and tools and fertilizer… and the other side of the store is a liquor store.
That really cracks me up. I suppose if your crops fail, you can always drown your sorrows.
I bought some fine potting soil as I need to get some things going, plus some fertilizer for the bananas and the pumpkins. Though I generally go organic, in this case I’m breeding pumpkins and have a lot – a lot – of vines to care for. Hauling enough manure wasn’t possible and they need a kick at the right time. My visa here is tied to my breeding efforts, so I need results quickly so I’m going with the recommendation of the locals.
Ah well. There will be time for ideological purity later.
When I get my own place, I’m going to build soil that will amaze the locals. Biochar, organic matter, grazing animals – we’re going to make things so fertile that there will be no need for any kind of chemical supplementation. In the rocky ground where my pumpkins are sprawling this kind of soil-building would take a few years – and I simply can’t see investing all the work into land I don’t own. I am adding organic matter and leaving the ground good, but going the swales, chop-and-drop, biochar and manure route takes time I may not have. Especially since I need to present some good pumpkins to the Department of Agriculture.
You’ve seen what I did in the past with dead, Florida sand – I can do the same with hard, rocky clay!
It just takes time I don’t have right now.
For all of you in Florida, I’m praying you get through okay. Irma is nasty. We are fine here, but I have family in South Florida who have evacuated ahead of the storm, leaving behind their houses. I hope they have something they can return to after the hurricane has run its course.
As shared in my book Compost Everything, this method of feeding plants allows you to stretch fertility a long, long way and re-use “waste:”
Many people have written in to say how much they appreciate this simple method for creating liquid plant fertilizer.
As Gardener Earth Guy commented on the video:
“This is the absolute best garden trick I’ve learned in a long time. My banana have gotten giant, sweet potato have rope vines, and loquats are getting giant. What doesn’t get a chop n drop goes in the bin.”
You can throw in weeds, fruit, kitchen scraps, urine, manure… just find organic matter and throw it in. I like a wide mix. This is a pretty simple batch, only containing moringa, compost, cow manure and urine. I did get some Epsom Salts after making the video and will throw that in next. A 55-gallon drum like this can easily feed 10,000 square feet of corn for a growing season. I know – I’ve done it!
It beats making “normal” compost and having to spread it all around.
I mean, I’ve been known to drink coffee all day and sometimes chain-smoke my pipe while writing, then have a cocktail before bed… but pharmaceuticals? Not for me! CLEAN LIVING, man!
For years I’ve advocated the use of urine as a fertilizer. It’s truly an excellent plant booster and a free source of garden fertility. I believe God designed it that way on purpose.
Go ahead, water your plants!
Yet the question always comes up – “what if a person is on drugs?”
As Sheila wrote earlier this week:
“Something to remember for your viewers. If they are on any medications they may want to forgo the pee until they are off the drugs. It all comes out through the kidneys.”
Yeah, well… PeeWee Herman had something to say about that:
Don’t do drugs!
Actually, on second thought, maybe most of the “drugs” questions aren’t really about crack.
Some pharmaceuticals aren’t a lot better, though.
Anyhow, let’s think this through.
Drugs in Urine – Bad for the Garden?
Well, that’s a tough one.
Your plants are likely to be unaffected by the drugs that pass through your urine. I don’t like the idea of adding pharmaceuticals to the garden, but in my completely unscientific opinion, I would say it’s pretty unlikely that beta blockers, for instance, are going to mess up your beets.
Or Oxycontin render your carrots too sleepy to make roots.
Or heroin cause your tomatoes to start playing grunge music, then die at age 27 in a filthy hotel room.
Oh, sorry – I guess heroin is no longer a “legit” pharmaceutical. That was a few years back.
Anyhow, yeah… the drugs are targeted at human physiology, which is quite different from that of plants.
“After the active ingredient in most birth control pills has done its duty preventing pregnancy, it begins a second life as a pollutant that can harm wildlife in waterways.
Not only is ethinyl estradiol quite potent — creating “intersex” fish and amphibians — but it is very difficult to remove from wastewater, which carries it into natural waterways.
Since women around the planet take the pill, this is a global problem. The European Union is the first entity to seriously consider mandating the removal of ethinyl estradiol, also known as EE2, from wastewater. However, as researchers pointed out in Thursday’s (May 24) issue of the journal Nature, the question of whether to remove the pollutant is not simple.”
Personally, I think banning the pill is a great idea, but that’s unlikely to happen any time soon.
The question of using urine as fertilizer when drugs are in play is a personal one. I think it’s blown out of proportion.
Are you using urine as fertilizer, then feeding the produce to other people? Well, that’s NASTY!
Seriously, though – if it’s your own garden and you’re already taking these toxic substances medications for various reasons, I don’t think the little bit you might get back in your salad is a big deal. I wouldn’t want to take any pharmaceuticals if at all possible and wouldn’t want to eat produce contaminated with them, but if I were already on, say, meth proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 inhibitors, I wouldn’t worry about a tiny bit of it coming back to me via the garden.
I let everything get away from me in the banana grove but I’m now starting to catch up.
We got a lot done this last Saturday and I filmed more so you can see how I’m cleaning and thinning out the many banana “stools” on our property.
Bananas are usually a heavily sprayed and fertilized crop but I’m managing them organically. I need to gather a lot more cow manure, plus maybe some seaweed and other materials. There are so many banana clumps to care for that it’s hard to get enough fertilizer to them.
Buying 10-10-10 and throwing a few handfuls to each stool would be easy.
Getting piles of manure isn’t.
There is a goat research facility up in the mountains – maybe I should go over there and see if I can get a few loads of manure.
This is similar to the Korean Natural Farming method of fermenting plant material anaerobically:
Multiple comments beneath the video claim that it IS the same method, but it isn’t.
This Hawaiian technique for creating fermented plant juice uses a lot of sugar and lacks leaf mould and sea salt. I am curious if it works well.
Some commenters claim it has done miracles for their gardens.
Youtuber Tom Fisher writes:
“I used your FPJ made out of Henbit and raw sugar and mixed it with EM1 and Bokashi Juice. The first spraying was FPJ and BJ. The plants took off right away. AMAZING!!! I sprayed our, and my neighbors flowers and shrubs with it and they are gorgeous! My garlic is over 30″ tall and my strawberries are a foot tall have have more flowers on them than I have ever seed in my life on strawberry plants. Thanks for an excellent video. You are a blessing to me and my family. Blessings to you!! My next batch will be Comfrey or Purslane.”
I may have to do a side-by-side test of methods to see how this works compared to the JADAM method.
Many compost tea enthusiasts will tell you that anaerobic fermentation is a bad practice, yet my own experiments have shown it to be a good source of soil fertility, particularly when compost supplies are low or you are gardening in sandy soil and need to optimize plant nutrition.
Pulling a bunch of materials from a wide range of plants is good for minerals.
Not having to bother with stirring or a bubbler or rapid application after creation is labor-saving.
So… I’m on the anaerobic train. Darn the microbes – full speed ahead!
I am gratified to see my own experience and experiments are backed up by both traditional Korean and Hawaiian practices.