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Gardening With Laurie: Liquid seaweed helps protect plants from cold temperatures

Oct. 19, 2010 at 5:19 a.m.
Updated Oct. 21, 2010 at 5:21 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

BY LAURIE GARRETSON Slowly, but surely, evening temperatures are slipping lower, and the air is cooling off. It's probably only a matter of weeks before we have a really chilly night, cold enough to send all of us plant lovers searching for something to cover our tender plants with.

To make your tender plants more cold hardy you need to regularly spray them with liquid seaweed.

Ideally, around the first of September, it's best to start spraying liquid seaweed on the foliage of tender plants. Do this every couple of weeks.

If you are just now starting to apply the seaweed, I'd begin spraying all tender plants on a weekly basis. Sprayed on a regular basis, liquid seaweed can actually make a plant more cold hardy. This is not to say you won't need to give the plant any further protection. But any additional hardiness for a plant is a plus.

Liquid seaweed will stimulate beneficial soil microbial activity, and this can make plants more stress resistant.

Using liquid seaweed on a regular basis will help plants to produce larger root systems. A larger root system means the plant has better access to water and soil nutrients. This is a good thing.

There are several university studies on liquid seaweed that show how using it to soak seeds actually makes the seeds germinate faster.

Plants grown from seeds soaked in seaweed will also be stronger, healthier and have a higher survival rate. I also use it to soak bulbs and cuttings in before planting them.

When transplanting or dividing plants, keep the liquid seaweed handy. Before replanting, soak the roots in a seaweed mixture to help reduce transplant shock and to speed up the root growth.

Another really good benefit about seaweed is that you can spray it on any fruit or vegetable about a week before they're harvested, and it will increase the shelf life.

Seaweed is loaded with lots of growth hormones and lots of trace elements. Seaweed actually has every nutrient that any plant could ever need. All of these good things can easily be absorbed through the leaves of your plants.

It's best to apply to the leaves during the cooler times of the day. Foliar spraying all plants with seaweed actually helps to toughen their foliage.

The tougher foliage is what provides the plant with some cold hardiness. Tougher foliage prevents sucking insects from bothering a plant and prevents some diseases from getting started.

Seaweed is also a great additive for your compost pile.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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