What’s the best plant food for the garden? I also get asked for variations of this question, such as what is the best plant food for roses? or what is the best plant food for flowers? While there are many ways to answer that. With specific foods better for certain plants and other tailor made foods for different stages of plant growth. The question always remains. If you had to choose one or if i’m a beginner starting out what should I use?
What is the best plant food ? the answer for me would always be seaweed fertiliser and particularly liquid seaweed. While all other fertilisers have uses and specific benefits. If you only want to have one fertiliser or you are a beginner starting out gardening. Then I would definitely start with seaweed fertiliser. You can add in specific feeds if you choose later. However if you only want one you won’t go wrong with seaweed.
While all the various types and specialist fertilisers have their uses and are all important in their own right. Seaweed is my go to choice for many reasons which I will outline below.
Used for centuries all around the world on every type of crop. So the benefits of seaweed fertiliser have been know for a long time and widely recognised. The great Monty Don regularly references and uses seaweed when he is on BBC gardeners world. Widely used by commercial growers around the world. Including in Ireland which is generally a sign that its great product.
We had a famous play and film “The Field” by John B Keane in which seaweed features heavily. The gist of the story was there was a field, which was pretty barren and poor quality. The lead character “Bull” McCabe hauls load after load of seaweed up to the field. Removes the stones and eventually turns it into a good field. A dispute ensues when somebody else wants to buy/take the field from the “Bull”.
*“Bull” says in the film. “ It’s my field. It’s my child. I nursed it. Nourished it. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing out of it.”* So you can see what he feels about his field. Also see where seaweed plays a part in the story, helping turn a bad field into a good growing field. Gone off the point here, sorry folks.
There are lots of multipurpose feeds available meaning they can be used on most plants in your garden. Seaweed really is totally multipurpose and it is what I would call an end to end fertiliser. This means it can be used at all stages of plant growth. With some other multipurpose feeds you can’t use at all stages of plant growth. This is because some are to concentrated for young plants. Others are not concentrated enough for mature plants. Seaweed fertiliser however can be used at all stages of plant growth and on all plants.
It can be used on seedlings, when taking cuttings, fruit, veg, flowers, lawns, trees, roses, shrubs and all plants at all stages of growth. Other uses for seaweed fertiliser include, it can be used as a compost activator, it can be used for cut flowers in the garden. A little spray of seaweed a day or two before cutting these flowers will keep them fresher for longer when you bring them inside. It can be used to heal wounds. On trees after you have pruned or if a tree gets damaged for any reason. If you want to try heal brushing on seaweed on the wound helps it heal.
Seaweed has a huge amount of nutrients with reports showing that it has anywhere up to 60/70 different elements including minerals, trace elements, enzymes etc. It contains all the nutrients needed for healthy plant growth. The micro nutrients are in a chelated form. Meaning they are easily taken in by the plant. Much like drinking a sports drink that gets into our body fast! Due to the enzymes and microbes it also promotes roots to grow much stronger which as we all know healthy roots lead to healthy plants.
Used all across world by commercial growers of all food crops. Commercial large scale fruit and veg growers higher yields lead to higher profit. Extra money in the bank at the end of a season.
Increasing the shelf life by a day or two is another growers use seaweed. It does this by strengthening the skin on these fruit and veg If you can imagine with an extra day or two looking their best on the shelves these fruit and veg have a much better chance of selling through so again more profit due to less waste.
Whats does this mean for us gardeners ? I hear you ask. Well the improved yield would be great for start. Think of all the usual crops we grow in our gardens, tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes if we can increase the yield on all of these then we are getting more out of our precious space.
The fruit and veg we produce will also last longer so anybody who has been growing some of their own for a while will have come across the “glut” where too much of our produce becomes ready at the same time.
Well if you have been using seaweed these fruit and veg will last longer giving you more of a chance to munch your way through your crops or harvest and freeze before it spoils. Seaweed also has the added bonus of improving the taste of fruits and vegetables by increasing the natural sugars in the fruits and veg making them taste better and have more vigorous colour.
On top of that it increases the yield of flowers, now I know this is not something we are measuring as such like with fruit and veg, but again a plant will have more flowers per plant and these flowers will be bigger than a plant which has not being fed with seaweed.
They will also last longer particularly flowers in hanging baskets and window boxes. Obviously these normally have a lot of plants in a small space and they can get quite hungry but when you feed on a weekly basis with seaweed you will get an extra month out of these flowers. So when everybody else’s window boxes are looking drab yours will be still in full flower and looking great. So use seaweed fertiliser for increased yields all around.
It a well known fact that pest & diseases are less likely to attack healthy plants. Plants that are regularly fed with Seaweed fertiliser have vigour and health which means they much less likely to be attacked. If they do get attacked, they struggle much less. But will recover quicker than an unhealthy plant.
Seaweed makes plants much more resistant to drought mostly due to the fact that plants that use seaweed fertiliser have much healthier, bigger root systems so and able to resist drought a lot better. On the opposite end to this .Feeding plants with seaweed make them more frost resistant. This is because these plants have thicker skin and stronger cells so they can withstand frost better than a plant which has not been fed with seaweed.
If you haven’t been using seaweed and your plants do get some form of a shock from drought, frost, pest or disease then seaweed is one of the best and quickest ways to restore plants back to health.
For many gardeners sustainability and being kind to the environment is very important to us. Seaweed fertiliser is one of the most sustainable gardening products you can get. When harvested correctly (by cutting the plant 20-30cm from the base) the seaweed renews itself so it is totally renewable and sustainable. It also is an organic fertiliser which is certified organic in many countries by many different organic bodies.
So that is it the benefits of seaweed and why I think its the best plant food to use! I hope this blog helps you the next time you stand in from of the big fertiliser section in a garden centre and wonder which feed is for you? Seaweed is great for all gardeners and if you only have one fertiliser in your gardening kit then this should be it.
Until the next time.
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