Monday, July 19, 2010

Some Help From Some Kelp


Generally, New York City apartments are not the ideal place for growing, so I decided to ask our friends at the farm for a few pointers.  Although I wasn't surprised that I was given an immediate response, I was surprised to find out the answer was...

Seaweed!  Now seaweed is something we have seen before on the farm, back when we were making top soilamending beds in the greenhouse and planting raspberry canes.  In all of those instances, we sprinkled dry seaweed (kelp more specifically) on any soil being used for sowing seeds, which added nutrients, helped the soil retain moisture and develop a stronger defense system.  Once I got word that I could make my own kelp tea from home, well that changed everything.  It was beach or bust and a few clouds clearly weren't going to slow me down.

From the farm to the ocean, I took a dive in, not knowing what I would find...except for seaweed, which was pretty much all I found.

Success!  A find like this deserves only one thing...


The green seaweed (or sea lettuce) was much easier to find on this beach than the red (irish moss) so I jumped on this opportunity only I didn't realize I had some competition.

I'm a fair guy, so after a heated debate where some harsh words were exchanged which I won't repeat, I let this little guy decide which one he wanted most.

I'm not going to sit here and say I was happy with his choice, but I am a man of my word, so I took the big green sea lettuce and we went our separate ways.

If you live in the northeast, this dark stringy eel grass may be familiar since it is so prevalent on the beaches out here.  Who knew this incredibly lazy, loitering beach plant could offer such nutritious benefits?

Two days later, when I finally got home, I pulled my precious seaweed out of its bag and took a good whiff just to make sure it was still fresh.

Absolutely not!  Please be careful when you bring this stuff home it REEKS.  

So 3 hours later when I finally came to, I got right to work making the kelp tea.  A fairly simple process, using a food processor and a tiny bit of water, grind up the seaweed into a mush.

Then pour the chopped mixed seaweed into a glass jar and fill the rest with water.  Let it steep for 2-3 days and apply to your plants during their next watering.  I've been told it's a good idea to pour the tea on during the early morning or early evening when plants can absorb the most nutrients.  You can put this concoction into a spray bottle and spray your plant leaves every few weeks.  You really don't need too much seaweed to make the tea and if you have extra, you can easily just pop it in the freezer where it won't smell at all.  Once the tea is used, you will be left with some ground up seaweed, which can be thrown on your soil as a form of compost.  It's pretty difficult to find space for a compost heap lving in Manhattan so it's always good to find some alternatives such as this.

Now I have two methods, one dry and one wet, both effective nonetheless, but why is this good for your plants?  It's always good to remember that everything you eat i.e. vegetable or meat, is a product of everything it eats as well.  When you eat beef, the nutrients your body absorbs during digestion are directly related to what kind of grass (we hope) that animal had been eating.  The same goes for vegetables, every carrot you eat is a product of the soil it is grown in, so the stronger your soil, the stronger, more nutritious and flavorful your food will be.


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