seaweed in garden?

tumblingtomatoesJanuary 6, 2009

Hi, I live on the Space Coast of Florida so we have lots of beaches which means lots of seaweed too. Someone told me seaweed can enrich garden soil...so would seaweed just picked up at the beach do this, stuff that washes up onshore or should you wade out waist high & grab some up? Would you have to 'sterilize' it in some way? Do you just till it into the soil? Dry it out first? Any info? Thanks :)

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tompost

I know that no one has offered up a suggestion yet (and I certainly can't). However, I would like to add a tangent question. If seaweed is good for your garden/composting, should you rinse it to remove excess seasalt?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 11:59AM
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organicguy(7)

Seaweed is great in that garden is you hose it down to get rid of as much salt as possible. If you are using it on asparagus beds, you don't even have to hose it off because asparagus do well in salty environments.

Fresh seaweed will have more nitrogen that dried seaweed from the beach. You can compost it, turn it into the soil or use is a mulch if it's dried. It a great soil ammendment.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 2:45PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

First of all be sure it is okay to harvest it. In Texas you are not allowed to remove the seaweed because the sand is attached and you cannot remove sand from the beaches (they are public road ways).

Do you have a way to shred the seaweed? I suppose you could dry it and run over it with a mulching lawn mower. The west coast giant kelp dries out into a jerky consistency that is very tough. I don't think a lawn mower would work on that.

I know a rancher who pays good money to buy sea salt for his acreage. I wouldn't bother rinsing it.

Ron, what is the difference between wet and dried seaweed that changes the nitrogen content?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 6:31PM
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organicguy(7)

The same difference between green grass clippings or fresh cut hay and grass or hay that has been allowed to dry out. Used in a compost pile, the green grass or hay will quickly heat up from the available nitrogen but dried out grass will not heat up very much at all. The same thing applies to fresh as opposed to aged and composted manure. I don't know what the chemical process is, but I do know that the nitrogen deminishes when it drys.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 7:54PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Okay thanks. I was hoping you had a theory. My theory is that the grass has already decomposed so much by the time it dries out that the protein (nitrogen) is already in the microbes that decomposed it. When you pile up fresh grass it gets hot. When you spread it out, it dries out. I think the decomposition is going on with different microbes in each of two processes.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 12:11AM
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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

The former New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod, Mass. used tons of freshly harvested seaweed as mulch without washing to remove salt.

They reported excellent results on nearly all crops with only a couple of exceptions. One was strawberries, I believe. Somewhere packed away is their four season gardening book in which they discuss their use of seaweed.

Wayne

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 8:49PM
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organicguy(7)

I would question the wisdom and long-term outlook by using unrinsed seaweed for mulch, especially on an ongoing basis. Heavy salt concentration is known to kill weeds and most other plants. Salt was once to be used to control weeds in asparagus beds, since asparagus do well in a salty environment, but little else would grow well in those beds.
In NYC, this past Summer, the city made some man-made waterfalls along cosatal areas, and the resultant salt water spray defoliated local trees and killed a lot of the other vegetation. They can report whatever they want, but salt in a garden does not mix.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 10:35PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Seaweed is organic matter and organic matter is good for your soil, so seaweed would be too providing the salt was rinsed off before you apply it to your garden. In some places you can harvest the seaweed that washes on shore while in others you cannot, you need to ask locally about that. Some people inland pay a high price for liquid or dehydrated seaweed to add to their gardens.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 6:49AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

It's the dosage that makes the poison. The problem is with sodium ions, which makes up over 90% of the salt in sea salt and is what you might find used to kill weeds. But there are other salt ions in the soil. Notibly calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These salt ions are necessary to plant and soil life and are even found in hefty amounts in commercial synthetic fertilizers. Given the vast amounts of those salts applied over the past 400 years, seemingly without doing too much harm (not trying to start a fight in the organic forum here), I would not worry about the trace of sea salt that would wash off of seaweed.

Soil microbes and plants need a balance of salts. If you get too much sodium in your soil, it is relatively easy to correct the balance and restore the health of the soil. It does require a specialized soil test to determine which salt and how much. The only soil test lab I know of that performs this special test along with their routine testing is The Texas Plant and Soil Lab.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 11:14AM
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organicguy(7)

Not being a scientist, I will assume that the salts found naturally occuring in soil are quite different that that which appears in saltwater, and certainly in different concentrations. The salt used years ago to control weeds in asparagus beds was rock salt, and it killed everything except the asparagus.

If you ever noticed seaweed on a beach, it is usually covered with salt crystals, and the abount you would be introducing into your soil is a lot more that a "trace".

And if what you say is true, going through the effors and expense of finding and doing special soil tests to monitor the salt level from adding unrinsed seaweed, hardly seems worth it. It makes a lot more common sense to me to just hose the stuff off before putting it in the garden.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 1:48PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

There are only a few salt ions and they are all in both soil and seawater. Concentration is different.

I'm convinced an ounce or two of seaweed salt is no big deal, especially compared to the pounds of salt applied with synthetic fertilizers. But if you want to rinse it, go for it.

I agree that the effort and expense of any soil test is not worth it - unless you are a professional who bases his income on the soil. However, the Texas Plant and Soil Lab standard test, which includes salt balance, is $35.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 1:44AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Most of us think of salt as the stuff on the table that we add to food, but salt is a general term refering to many different compounds. Anything with the word sodium in it is a salt and you have many, many salts in your soil already. However there are some that you do not want in your soil and the sodium chlorides are one of those.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 7:32AM
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organicguy(7)

I will take your word for it about the salt ions, but the concentration is something else. In a hay fork full of seaweed alone, you could have several oz. of sea salt. You put on a thick layer of mulch or turn a load into the soil in a small area, and you are gonna get a lot more than a few oz. of salt, and it builds up over time.
Just observe land areas near salt water! There is very limited vegetation that can tolorate salt conditions. The only veggie I know that can is asparagus. And I can tell you for a fact that in a bed with high soil salt levels, you won't find any earthworms, so I will assume it also kills a lot of soil organisms.
I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do in their garden, but it seems kind of dumb to take the chance, when a quick rinse with the hose can cut down the risk dramatically. At lease we can all agree that added salt does not do the soil any good, so why put it in there?

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 9:12AM
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robin_maine

I've been using rock weed yearly for about 15 years. I've never rinsed it before using. Sometimes rain hits it before we get it spread, sometimes not. No problems here so far.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 3:43PM
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organicguy(7)

What is "rock weed"?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 4:00PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

At lease we can all agree that added salt does not do the soil any good, so why put it in there?

While we seem to agree that added salt (sodium) is not a good thing, depending on the dose, there's a Dallas area rancher I highly respect who buys sea salt for his soil. I'm not sure of the nature of that salt but I've seen one advertised with 60% of sodium removed. I don't know if he uses that or not.

And again, curing a sodium problem is a trivial matter with the right soil test. I wish I had the picture I saw to demonstrate that. Texas issued a call for proposals to resolve salt brine sterilization of soils around oil wells. One of the successful offers was a mix of magnesium chloride and other manufactured salts. The picture showed a tall stand of prairie grasses hugging an oil well. This oasis of green was surrounded by bare (overgrazed) ranch land.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 7:00PM
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organicguy(7)

Are you sure he buys the sea salt for his soil, and not his cattle? Cows need addt. salt licks and do well with it. I would be interested in knowing what he uses it for.

Yes, soil tests can detect too much salt in soil, and there are remedys for it, which is all a lot of work, cost and a pain in the butt. So why bother adding the salt in the first place? Seems like a no-brainer to me!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 7:08PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

The term salt refers to any compound with a cation and ion in combination resulting from the reaction of an acid and a base. Sodium is not an necessary element for a compound or substance to be considered a salt in the chemical sense of the word.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 8:24PM
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soil_lover

http://seaagri.com/

Sea salt is purchased as a fertilizer for the soil

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 12:37AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Very few plants grow near a sea ahore, or lake shore for that matter, because the soil near those places does not hold nutrients very well. The lakeshore sand around here is most often held in place with a grass, beach grass, that roots really deeply, kind of like the beach grass I have seen around Cape May, NJ and other places along the Atlantic coast. Beaches have very fragile ecosystems adn it does not take much traffic, from either people or waves, to prevent plant growth, especially if the soil has no nutrients.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 6:57AM
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organicguy(7)

I went to that site and this product appears to be a mineral, micro nutrients and trace elements source consentrate made from sea water. I would imagine that the salt concentration at the recommended rate of dilusion is a whole lot less than from pure salt water.
It is a fact that high levels of salt kills plants. When you use fresh seaweed or even dried seaweed, you are getting a very high dose of salt. However this producted is formulated, it's somium level must be brought down to very low levels.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 11:05AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

This is the sea water stuff that my rancher friend uses. It is sold as a liquid concentrate.

The http://seaagri.com/ product looks like a crystaline product but basically the same thing.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 11:19AM
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teriniska

I live in BC Canada on Vancouver Island and I have been using seaweed off of the beach for years without rinsing it and I have had absolutely no ill effects. I generally make my compost with the following formula.

3 parts fresh horse manure
1 part coarse saw dust
1 part unwashed seaweed (either fresh or beach rotted)
1 part mulch hay

I let this rot off for 6-8 months turning it once per month and end up with a rich black loam which is fantastic for all types of gardens.

Note: By not washing the seaweed off I am also adding in sand and minerals which are in no way harmful to this mix. The secret is in keeping a balance between the ingrediants. Almost everything is useful in moderation.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 2:00PM
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organicguy(7)

teriniska . . .
The seaweed is 1/6th of your mulch, which is a whole different thing that using only seaweed. You would be getting only 1/6 the amount of sea salt. If the salt going into your soil was 6 times as much, you might be seeing a different effect, especially over an extended period of time.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.thegardenguy.org
"New article & journal entry"

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 3:28PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Seaweed has been used as a soil amendement for generations in the British Isles. My only worry would be whether it is legal to harvest it in your area. In the linked article it is interesting to see that seweed has been used constantly on land which has never needed to be left fallow, so nutritious is it for the soil. The salt does not seem to have beeen a problem. But the British Isles do have a wet climate.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seaweed use in Jersey

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 4:39PM
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robin_maine

What is "rock weed"?

A seaweed, Ascophyllum nodosum.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 5:42PM
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teriniska

The following is a quote from the book "Carrots Love Tomatoes, secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening" by Louise Riotte, published by Garden Way Books.

-- Quote --

Kelp is about 20-25% potasium chloride, and it also contains common salt, sodium carbonate, boron, iodine, and other trace elements. For gardeners near seacoasts, seaweeds are a natural and usually wasated resorce which can be used for mulching and in compost. They are especially good materials to put around fruit trees. Another advantage is that decomposting seaweed is less attractive to mice than straw.
Chopping seaweed may be advantagious if only for cosmetic reasons, Also it may be advisable to rinse off the salt but it is not nessisary to be too fussy about this. The small ammount left clinging will do no harm.
It has been found that seaweed used as fertilizer helps to promote frost resistance in tomatoes and citrus fruits, along with increasing the sweetness of some fruits and giving better resistance to pests and disease. Beats and parsnips respond badly to boron shortages in the soil, so chopped kelp makes an excellent mulch for them.
Seaweed helps to break down insoluable elements in the soil, making them available ot plants. This quickens seed germination and further aids the development of fruits and blossoms, resulting in increased yealds.

== end quote ==

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 6:56PM
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teriniska

Oh and orgnicman, seaweed is 1/6 of my soil composition not my mulch.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 7:03PM
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organicguy(7)

Actually, according to what you wrote, it's 1/6th of your compost, and your compost is likely only a small percentage of your soil. And if you are letting it rot for 6-8 month as you said, the salt is likely leached out of it by rainwater.

This is nothing to argue over. I think seaweed is great, I just have a problem with a heavy salt concentration in the soil. The key word here is HEAVY! If I recall, this thread started out with someone wanting to use seaweed as mulch, and a lot of unwashed seaweed used on a regular basis can cause major soil damage from excess salt. The salt would certainly would not benefit the soil, so why take the chance? That is the only point I am trying to make.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
"New article & journal entry"

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 7:24PM
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teriniska

Sorry I seem to have given the wrong impression there by labeling it compose. That mix is what I use to produce black topsiol which I use to fill my planting boxes. Around here it is known as sea soil and is sold for about 2x the price of normal garden mix topsoil. The salts are actually benifical in this mix due to the high amount of sawdust which normally would would not be recomended for a garden mix due to its nitrogen leeching qualities. The combination of horse manure and seaweed provides vital nitrogen and trace elements which neutralize the high acids produced by the sawdust while the hay acts to feed the humus of the mix while it is rotting.

Without rotting off this mix may be used as a 2-3 inch mulch around many types of plants with no harm done. However if is to hot of a mix to use as topsiol without being composted 1st.

So the point I am trying to get across is that the ammount of salt, even on unwashed seaweed is trace at best and does not accumulate to dangerous ammounts in soil even if used heavily as a mulch. The ammount of salt on unwashed seaweed is simply not harmful, even after extended heavey use.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 8:39PM
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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

>This is nothing to argue over. I think seaweed is great, I just have a problem with a heavy salt concentration in the soil.

Well, you may be right there is nothing to argue over if you can just point to some definition of the term "heavy" and the amount of salt that will accumulate as a result, a specific value, such as pounds of salt per ton of fresh seaweed. Something beyond speculation and an admonition to not "take the chance."

As has been said, it has been used by many with good results over long periods of time. Irish farmers along the coast have been using it to build the soil in their fields for centuries. My advice is when arguing with success, come armed with data.

Wayne

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 9:10PM
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organicguy(7)

No sense beating a dead horse. I used salt to control weeds in asparagus beds years ago, and I saw what it did to the soil. It killed the weeds, earthworms and all other life. That is why it's not used any more.
I live by the sea and I see the crystalized salt on seaweed laying the shore, and it's a whole lot more than a trace.
Herte is a link to a site where someone asked why the still use salt on roads and what it does to the soil -
http://www.riverwestcurrents.org/2004/February/001361.html
You can also read what the Virginia Cooporative Extension has to say about sali in soil -
http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/trees/430-031/430-031.html
If you need more data Wayne, it's all over the Internet. Like I said, why take the chance!

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
"New Article & Journal post"

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 10:22PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

No sense beating a dead horse.

Too late for that.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 12:21AM
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organicguy(7)

dchall_san_antonio
Maybe you are right. When you have an open forum and many folks with different view points, you are bound to have disagreements. I don't think it's about winning arguments or being "right", it's about sharing experience and information, and we are all free to take or leave any of it.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
"New Article & Journal Entry"

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 10:33AM
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teriniska

Heres something that will let you understand the exact effects of salts in the garden.

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B2GGGL_enUS176&q=sodium+plant+growth+-pressure

It is not my intention to argue with anyone, I am mearly telling what I know from experiance.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 1:00PM
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organicguy(7)

teriniska,
That is a great link, and the information there mirrors all the other reports on excess salt in soil that I have seen. With all the data, let alone experiences shared, why anyone would want to needlessly introduce salt into their soil is beyond me, but far be it from me to tell anyone what to do. It's their soil and their choice. You may get away with it for a while, but sooner or later it will catch up with you.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
"New article & journal entry"

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 3:53PM
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annpat(5-Maine)

"They" say that there is no need to rinse the salt off seaweed. I've never rinsed the salt off (Maine) seaweed because back in 1974, Thalassa Cruso, Ruth Stout, and Rodale all said that you didn't need to. Now you can add Eliot Coleman to that. I have soil tests bi-annually and no one ever said anything about salt. I used to move around, though, so the longest continual application has probably been no more than 10 years.
(Maine) seaweed has been my secondary mulch since I began gardening---topped with something that isn't slippery.

I know nothing about seaweed from anywhere else. I know that (unrinsed) seaweed is responsible for miles and miles of fat, happy, wild roses along the coast of Maine.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 9:37AM
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annpat(5-Maine)

I don't chop my seaweed. I put some in my compost. I wrap some around the base of my favorite shrubs. You don't want to dry it out. The moisture is the best part. I primarily use seaweed as a mulch. I use it to weigh down my newspaper mulch, and then I cover it with something that isn't slippery (Seaweed in the garden is treacherous.), like leaves or hay.

The best thing about (rock)seaweed is that it absorbs water every time it rains, and releases it over time into the soil. (The little bladders fill up, and what was dried out seaweed, becomes plump with water.)

You do want to check the laws where you live. I can gather all the dead seaweed I want here in Maine, but am limited to 50 lbs. of fresh a day. I had a license once, and I think that allowed me unlimited amounts of fresh. I began to feel that gathering fresh was not something that I needed to do or felt comfortable doing.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 9:50AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Okay...this just in. I have been reading up on saline soil issues and found something important.

First of all, do you know how a water softener works? Quick explanation - when you have hard water the calcium and magnesium in the water will attach to a special clay material called Zeolite. When the Zeolite has accumulated all the calcium and magnesium it can hold, then a timer comes on and flushes a sodium brine solution onto the Zeolite. The sodium detaches the calcium and magnesium from the Zeolite which allows the two elements to be flushed down the drain. In that process the sodium attaches to the Zeolite.

That is what happens in the soil. If your soil gets too much sodium it will displace the calcium and magnesium from the clay particles. The way you fix it is to add calcium and magnesium to displace the sodium. Then, if you have enough water, you can flush the sodium away.

In every case I found in the research, a sodium brine solution was the initial problem, not a weak sodium solution.

Okay, now this would be a perfect opportunity for Ron to ride in on his dead horse for the 8th or 9th time and say, "why anyone would want to needlessly introduce salt into their soil is beyond me." ;-)

Just joshing with you there Ron. The reason someone might want to go ahead and use salty seaweed is that for the time and water used to wash away the salt, they just don't see the problem. Maybe it's like smoking cigarettes and it takes 50 years to kill you.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 1:38AM
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organicpepper_grower(Nova Scotia)

I dont know much about this subjecy but I di do some reading about it before I did it. I went and covered my garden with about 4 inches of seaweed on it. right now there is about eight inches of snow over everything (more comming today!). Now Ifigure by the time this all melts and the rain comes in the spring I dont figure the salt content will be very high. But hopefully it kills the weeds like I've read here and other places. The last two years I've used half rotted cow manure and my weeds in the garden grew better than some of my veggies. In my case its worth a try

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 10:56AM
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organicpepper_grower(Nova Scotia)

I only did it to see what would happen. I doubt that I will do it next year mainly due to the amount of time it takes to cover my garden.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 10:23PM
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PRO
collins design

Annpat-

Does your rockweed smell? Last year I used some to mulch my beans (South Portland; I am now in Cumberland) and when it rained the follwing week it really stank to high heaven. I didn't mind personally, but I was worried about the neighbors.

My new garden is about 10' from a neighborhood street that people walk down all the time, and since we just moved in and immediately put in a huge garden bed (in a rather prim neighborhood) I really don't want to upset anyone.

Perhaps if I cover it with hay it won't smell as much?

By the way, what are you using for mulch (hay)? In my teeny urban garden in South Portland I splurged on that "Mainely Mulch" salt hay substitute, but it's waaaay too pricey for my new big garden. I worry about weed seeds in regular horse hay, though. Any suggestions for something good and local?

Thanks!
Stacey

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 6:21PM
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swanz(z5NH)

I've read studies a while back about the dangers of using to much Seaweed in the garden. Something about dangerous levels of boron, iodine and other trace elements. Something about the plants growing healthy but having unhealthy amounts of some elements.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 4:49PM
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burro(5 NEPA)

Hi! I've used the ground-up dried seaweed sold by Peaceful Valley with great success. I've never inquired about salts. The worms loved it so much I didn't give it a thought. Problem now is the high cost of shipping from CA to PA, so I'm trying to find a closer supplier. Any suggestions would be very welcome!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 6:01PM
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jajm4(z5 w. mass, usa)

Kelp has about three times as much potassium as sodium (and a fair amount of calcium and other minerals as well). It tastes salty, but it's more balanced than a pure salt product. It's not the same as just salting the garden, you are also adding a lot of other minerals. The need for major NPK components of fertility is widely acknowledged, but the trace minerals are also needed, and this is where seaweed excels. I am guessing that if people are using seaweed without any ill effects, it's because the sodium is far outbalanced by the potassium and other minerals.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 6:29PM
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simmonsdf_gmail_com

Certain plant species do very very well within feet of high tide in very briny environments, roses for example, peas (parts of the Maine and NH coastline are carpeted in beach peas0 so I'm thinking that salt is not as much an issue when it complexed with other minerals as jamjm4 suggests. My peas all wilted from whatever that bacteria is that zaps peas so I am working in 2-3 bushels of seaweed, a sprinkling of crab shells, mollusk shells (chitin) and several handfuls of grey coarse sand from above high tide which I collected at the base of a small mound of the beautiful beach peas in full bloom (violet flowers). I'am not going to rinse. I collected the seaweed just above the incoming tide on Straws Point, Rye Beach NH this afternoon.
All but two seedlings in a 15' row of peas planted April 25 wilted and died. Now I am going to work the two five gallon pails filled with a mix of crab/mollusk shells, beach sand and seaweed into the row and seed the sprouted peas (JSS 2785.11) directly into and atop the mix. I'll update you all in a month.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 6:22PM
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organicguy(7)

Sounds like you have one of the wilt's in your soil, and it can take a few years to get rid of it. You may want to try some wilt resistant varieties and/or practice crop rotation.. All the seaweed in the world is not going to help with wilt.

Certain plants, like asparagus, do well in a salty envirnoment because usually that is their natural habitat. Most vegetables do poorly in a salty enviroment which is why is hard to garden under harsh salt conditions.

Seaween is a great soil amendment and provides a lot of valuable nutrients. Salt is harmful and builds up in soil. If you keep adding salt encrusted seaweed on a regular basis, most of your veggies will eventually suffer big time.

Ron
The Garden Guy
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    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 6:33PM
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nhdougsimmons(5)

Yeah, Ron, thank you for checking back into this thread. I think most would agree that the problem is bacterial wilt and rotation is S.O.P. in our gardens. I have tried all areas of the garden and only once have I seen a crop of peas (and hardy persistent buggers too, they flowered right through the summer heat and into the fall) and I distinctly recall that I mulched with seaweed.
When using seaweed as a mulch I generally do rinse it before using, but in this case there was urgency as I had a pan full of sprouted pea seeds that were getting a bit leggy and a two day burst of hot weather was coming so I just took it straight from the 5 gallon bucket and worked it all into a 12' row. Tonight, I was watching big black carpenter ants deliberately walk around the bed (salt eh?)
Anyway, frustrated by the wilting peas I was searching the internet for organic controls for bacterial wilt and came across several references to chitin, described in Wikipedia ..." The natural bio-control active ingredient, chitin/chitosan, is found in the shells of crustaceans, such as lobsters, crabs, and shrimp, and many other organisms including insects and fungi. It is one of the most abundant bio-degradable materials in the world."
Also "The bio-control mode of action of chitosan elicits natural defense responses within plant to resist against insects, pathogens, and soil borne diseases.[6]"
A commercial product based on crab shells is being widely used by Washington state organic potato growers to control blight.

I did not have time to get to the clam banks in Seabrook so I went to Rye beach and mixed my seaweed buckets with the most fragile, dried out crab, mussel and clam shells I could find, then I mixed in several large scoops of the gray "sand" from above the high tide mark. This "sand" is gray in part due to the granite substrate but also due to a large component of pulverized crustacean exoskeletons. The gray sand is also the native beach pea's favorite growing medium.

poor man's chitin? We'll see.

BTW, I planted in the exact same location which saw roughly a 50% germination rate and a 95% mortality rate of those seedlings (one healthy plant left in a 12' row).

Like I said in my original post, I'll give a progress or "lack-of-progress report in about a week.

Doug

    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 8:25PM
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organicguy(7)

Please do Doug! I would like to hear how you make out!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 8:47PM
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nhdougsimmons(5)

I covered the row loosely with row cover material Saturday after in noticed that the birds had been digging at the pea sprouts. Hard to say how many were lost as the jays, cardinals, wrens and robins visited the sprout buffet.

However, there are still 10-15 healthy sprouts thus far. Time will tell... Been very dry the past 7 days but now "wilt weather" is on the doorstep as the semi-tropical low from the Gulf exits Arkansas and heads up the Ohio valley in our direction. 2-3 rainy days and cool weather forecast for Wednesday - Friday. By this coming weekend we should have definitive results.

BTW what is eating the leaves of my radish and beet sprouts in my salad garden? What biological controls? Basic safer soap?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 9:37AM
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