Sea kelp is a fast growing aquatic ocean plant or seaweed. It is high in plant nutrients, but doesn’t burn plants like fresh manure nor does it cause plants to bolt like high nitrogen based chemical fertilizers. Gardeners along the coasts around the world have used sea kelp in their gardens for centuries. Those of us who do not have access to the sea can take advantage of kelp by buying its dried form.
Kelp is including iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium minerals that are often lacking in farm and garden soils around the United States. I always buy my kelp certified organic so that I know that I am getting the best and safest product.
Kelp contains two natural plant growth hormones auxin and cytokines. This is why I feel that kelp is especially important to add to every seed row and transplant hole in the vegetable garden.
When I dig the hole for the transplants, I dust the bottom of that hole with kelp, add water, and then plant the transplants and sprinkle more on the soil surface above the plants roots and add more water. As the plant grows, these nutrients filter down and become available to the plant when it needs them.
When planting seeds in rows, I sprinkle kelp in the row, and place the seeds at a proper distance for optimal growth, then water. I then cover the seeds, tamp them down and sprinkle more kelp down the row and water again. Because it is readily used by the plants, kelp will not leach out and pollute the environment like chemical fertilizers can.
I have found that adding a dusting of kelp when planting not only enhances better early growth, but improves the health of the plants over the entire growing season. Here is one example. Where I live, blossom end rot is a common disease in tomatoes. I identify blossom end rot when I find a dry sunken decay that develops on the blossom end a tomato particularly the first tomatoes of the growing season. This problem is not caused by pest, parasite or disease damage, but from a lack of calcium and supporting trace minerals available to the tomato fruit. When I plant my tomatoes using kelp, my tomatoes never suffer from blossom end rot.
By using dried kelp powder in my garden, using kelp insures that not only do my plants stay healthy, but the vegetables that come from my garden will produce more and offer better nutrition for me and my family.