I traveled to Rhode Island a few weeks ago on what was a whirlwind 24 hour (including transport time) trip to shoot a food gardening segment for the show Cultivating Life. I’ll tell you about that some other time. They had ducks!
However, what I would like to tell you about today were the planters I saw sitting outside of Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, Rhode Island when we stopped so that I could be properly caffeinated with real coffee (I am a terrible coffee snob) before braving six hours in an airport that reminds me of the movie Logan’s Run. Because that’s the only Logan I know, and The Carousel is not the mental image I prefer to have before flying. Sure, we’re all just going to step onto this “plane”, defy gravity by flying high in the sky and land safely at our destination. RIGHT.
Except that I clearly lived to tell so back to the planters. They were mulched with FRESH kelp, from the sea. In fact, the coffee shop sat next to the water with a view of a small, pebble beach. I could see kelp while I sipped my coffee. Just sitting there. This is the kind of little detail about traveling to new places that I get abnormally excited about. One does not have to buy (as I do yearly) a bag of dried kelp or liquid kelp concentrate that has been shipped from some unknown place. No, one can just step outside and scoop up a handful for plants that are growing within a few feet. Here was the view:
And here is the container with a thick layer of nutrient-rich, fresh kelp laid on top of the soil as mulch:
It’s pretty, don’t you think? I have never seen such colourful kelp! The stuff I get in a bag is always the same uniformly-coloured grey/green.
Kelp makes a great mulch and plant fertilizer. Here’s why:
- It’s loaded with potassium and a bunch of other trace minerals. Potassium is a container gardener’s friend since it is an overall plant stress reliever, and container plants generally tend to experience more stress than in-ground gardens.
- It’s got plant growth hormones in it that can help your plants grow stronger.
- Kelp breaks down into the soil very quickly, conditioning the soil, improving texture, and fertilizing all at once. Yes please.
- It does not carry weed seeds, unlike hay (and sometimes straw when it is mislabeled. Boo).
- It does not share diseases with land plants that could be spread to your garden.
I’d suggest rinsing off the salt and salty sand before adding it to your garden but a lot of seaside gardeners say they don’t bother and their plants are fine. I’d also recommend not taking too much from any one area since there are lots of critters that depend on the seaweed that washes onto the shore for their food and shelter.