Part 1 of Using Seaweed in the Garden was posted back in July 2011. I thought it would be nice to go into more detail about the Why and the How of using seaweed as a natural fertilizer (and more).
Seaweed has many uses but I'm going to talk about using seaweed for Fertilizer, Mulch, Pest Control and Compost Activator.
Seaweed tea is simple and easy to make. It can be stored up to 3 month but is best used within 4 weeks. Seaweed contains trace elements and minerals and is a Nitrogen-rich soil amendment. Use seaweed for those heavy feeders such as Tomatoes, Peppers and Squash.
I use all types of organic material for mulch such as dry leaves, store-bought bark (mulch) and seaweed. Once I have used up the last of my tea, the rest gets used as mulch around my tomatoes. Mulch is important to keep down the weeds, retain moisture, protects close to the surface roots, all while providing nutrients to the plant as the mulch breaks down.
While using seaweed hasn't kept the neighborhood cats out of my garden, I have very little snails or slugs. For natural pest control I also use companion planting for an all around happy garden (and happy bees).
If you have a compost pile of bin, seaweed is your friend. What is Compost? was also posted July 2011 and is a great starting point for new gardeners. "Compost is a natural soil amendment and garden fertilizer. It can be made FREE using kitchen scraps (and yard clipping)." Add seaweed to the compost pile to add nutrients and speed the process by feeding the beneficial microbes.
As I mention in my original post, clean the seaweed before you apply to plants, tea or compost. It's important when collecting seaweed that you observe you state and local laws. There are many protected beaches that do not allow people to remove anything from the shore or water. I collected my seaweed first thin in the morning so it was fresh and relatively clean.
Please be aware of tiny creatures. Inspect the seaweed or rinse before you leave the shore so you don't bring home (and possibly kill) helpless creatures.