Monday, 6 June 2016

And Then There Was Seaweed

When we first moved out to the island and started thinking more about where our food came from and trying, as much as possible, to eat from what nature provides us with, we thought that seaweed might become an integral part of our diet.  It wasn't long before we noticed that there just wasn't much around.  We didn't see it diving, it wasn't washing up on beaches, and our only effort to go out specifically looking for it was unsuccessful (although we did find a pink sand beach so the trip wasn't a total waste of time)

Last week, however, Nath came back from work with a huge bucket full to the brim of seaweed that he had seen floating while out at work.  That afternoon, we went back out to the current line in the same area to see if we could find more.

As you can see, it's a pretty scenic area, so even if we weren't successful in pulling seaweed out of the water it still would have been a nice afternoon out in the boat.  But find seaweed we did!  It's almost embarrassing the level of excitement this all caused me. (Yay!  Seaweed!)

We did not eat the seaweed, though.  No, we have started a few garden experiments!

Seaweed is overflowing with minerals.  It contains hormones that stimulate plant growth and is bursting with trace elements and nutrients which are easily absorbed by plants so it is a fast acting fertiliser giving plants a boost straight away.   Seaweed is high in carbohydrates (necessary building blocks for plant plant life) and low in cellulose (so it breaks down super easily).  It also has fungal and disease preventatives AND it deters pests. Go Seaweed!!!

Best thing of all though, is it's super duper easy to use!

We gave our seaweed a rinse in fresh water, but from what I've read this is unnecessary as the sand and salt water clinging to it contains essential elements that will also benefit your plants.  

This is our first time using seaweed in the garden, so we experimented with a few different methods...

1. Put it in the compost.  Yep, chuck it straight in.  Easy peasy.  Apparently it makes great compost and activates the whole process.  

2.  Use it as a mulch.  We put a nice thick layer on top of the garden (a few inches thick) leaving a bit of a space around the plant stalks.  We also dug it into our garden.  We tried it in trenches between plants, and on one garden bed I mulched with seaweed and then covered it with another layer of soil.  Everything is an experiment here!

3.  Make a seaweed tea.  This is by far the stinkiest option we tried and if you're going to try it I advise not getting your face too close to the concoction.  It doesn't smell like you would expect rotting seaweed to smell.  It is far worse than that and completely indescribable.  Suffice to say that I accidentally got a whiff of ours after it had been brewing for a few days and it made me retch. Anyway, the tea.  Just put the seaweed in a bucket and cover it with water and leave it to break down.  I put a couple of chunks of rock on the seaweed to keep it submerged in the water.  Our seaweed tea is still brewing, but when it's ready (anywhere from 3 weeks to one year, apparently!) we will try spraying it on the leaves to inhibit pests.  It can also be applied to foliage or roots as a food tonic.

What do you like to use in the garden?  I'm a brandspanking new gardener, with no nursery or garden center anywhere near by, so I'm always on the lookout for new ideas!  I'd love to hear from you if you have tips!

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