03 Jun A Little Kelp From My Friends: How to Make Seaweed Liquid Fertilizer
As relative newcomers to the garden party, we can be delinquent about (and yes, at times intimidated by) fertilizing. Maybe that’s why we’re so attached to our carnivores — because they self-fertilize, and in such a theatrical way?
But slowly, we’re coming around. We recently discovered our garden pond as a way to feed our tillandsia; since then, we’ve been intrigued by fertilizing hacks that are both outside the box and right under our noses.
Yesterday, we started our very first batch of liquid fertilizer made from seaweed.
Coastal gardeners from here to the Falkland Islands have been doing it for ages. Using just water and beach-foraged seaweeds (like bullwhip kelp, sea lettuce and nori), you can brew a tea fertilizer that will fortify and stimulate your plants, via seaweed’s abundance of amino acids and trace minerals. It can also be used in compost and in mulch. According to Eartheasy, seaweed’s sodium content makes it a champion slug repellent.
When we arrived at Windansea yesterday, the tide was ebbing. Kelp beds stretched south toward the rocks. At the height of summer, we diligently avoid these tangled masses of sugar wrack and giant kelp that attract mobs of flies — not a good look while you’re trying to eat a sandwich, play paddleball and drink a smuggled-in cocktail. Today, though? We couldn’t have been happier to see them.
We (1) scooped up seaweed by the handful, targeting clumps that were washed up in shallow tide pools and still wet.
Note: you should check with your local beach/parks department re if it’s actually legal to remove seaweed for personal use. Also, take only modest amounts; don’t go nuts. The daily limit in California for personal use is 10 pounds wet weight, as long as you stay out of aquatic parks and refuges. Cutting away eel grass, surf grass and sea palm is prohibited.
Once our Rubbermaid was full, we packed up our beach wagon and headed home to start our bitchin’ brew.
After (2) rinsing off the seaweed, we (3) refilled its container with water and covered it. Over the next few weeks we will (4) stir the seaweed/water mix every few days, before it’s time to (5) skim off our seaweed fertilizer tea as needed.
Stay tuned for updates on how this fertilizer plays with our plants!