re: "Seaweed meal"

I was checking into using "water crystals" in my organic garden because being in Zone 9, we need to retain as much moisture as possible in the soil.
A British company suggested that I use "Seaweed meal", i.e. ground up seaweed, as this would help retain water in the soil. I see this is being used a lot on England, but can only find liquid seaweed or kelp here.
Does anyone here have any experience with this stuff? Where can I get some in the US, prefereably Los Angeles area. Helen
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HPBudlong wrote:

Why don't you just use your own homegrown compost?
--
Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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The idea was that the seaweed meal somehow had better water retention capabilities than home grown compost. In So Cal, we sometimes have no rain between February and October and little in those months. We need all the help we can get to keep water in the soil so be able to grow plants without enormous water bills.
Helen
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HPBudlong wrote:

Sounds like it's time to buy a book about Xeriscape landscaping.
Or.
http://www.cabq.gov/waterconservation/xeric.html
--
Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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I do understand about xeriscaping. I am talking about trying to grow organic vegetables. I was looking at what are the possibilities to reduce water loss. Helen
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rain
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enormous
Articles do indicate that seaweed or kelp meal (ground Ascophyllum nodosum) acts as a natural humectant in addition to having other plant benefits such as assorted trace elements and nutrient content, but it is unclear as to the degree of water retention it can provide solely as opposed to inclusion of other organic matter, such as compost. I'd venture to guess that one would need a considerable amount to achieve the same moisture retention that compost or other quality organic matter does and at a far less cost.
Gathering and drying the kelp or seaweed yourself would certainly reduce/eliminate the cost factor and you could get a significant quantity, but I'd still consider adding it to your compost to maxmize its usage.
pam - gardengal
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Whitney Farms is a West Coast producer of organic soil amendments and fertilizers and they carry a kelp meal (not a liquid product). The link will give you a whole slew of California locations that carry their products. http://www.whitneyfarms.com/buy/pdfs/WhitneyFarmsCalifornia.pdf
I would say that Travis is on the right track, though. Additions of good compost or other quality organic matter will provide as much, if not more, water retention capacity to soils as would kelp or seaweed meal and is a lot cheaper and easier to use in quantity. Doesn't have to be your own if you don't have it - any good quality bagged or commercial compost will work just as well.
You could also take a winter time drive to the beach for a little seaweed harvest of your own. It tends to be very plentiful in winter. Just gather it up, rinse it off well and hang it to dry. Once dry, you can grind or otherwise chop it up and include it with your other soil amendments. I find southern California beaches to be very pleasant at this time of year :-)
pam - gardengal
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Romy
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HPBudlong wrote:

In many areas of southern California, the water and soils already contain excessive salts. I would be very concerned about the salt content of seaweed.
A good mulch of leaves will help your soil to remain cool and moist in the summer. Eventually, they break down and make a good compost.
Another way to ensure proper moisture retention is to amend the soil with a 50-50 mix of peat moss and washed plaster sand, both of which should be suitable for an organic garden. If your soil is already sandy, reduce the plaster sand and increase the peat. See my <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html . For my recipe, you can likely find organic substitutes for the nutrients that you do not consider organic. Note that there are indeed natural sources of sulfur, gypsum, and Epsom salts, which (although inorganic) are used by organic gardeners.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (HPBudlong) wrote:

In Alaska, we go down to the beach after really good storms, gather up all the seaweed we can carry, then lay in on our garden beds (without rinsing the salt off it) and let it rot. Seaweed has all of the trace minerals plus N, P & K in it.
Folks in SE Alaska, who don't have topsoil, gather seaweed, lay it on the bedrock in their yard and plant seed spuds in it. They get tremendous crops of potatoes.
Jan, in Alaska
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