Posted on 31 July 2007 by

Tomatoes Love the Beach: How Seaweed Can Improve Tomato Growth, Yield and Flavor

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By Danny Thompson

Photo Credit: Seaweed dunes? by nickherber used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Okay, I don’t know if that’s actually true . . . I’ll look into it and get back to you.

But apparently, they like a little seaweed.

Regular use of kelp sprays on your tomato plants has been shown to make plants heartier and healthier, and even improve the soil conditions and flavor of the tomatoes.

In fact, Erika Jensen combed through a dozen scientific papers, and found that:

“The use of seaweed as a growth stimulator is widely supported by scientific studies. There is also some evidence to support the idea that kelp is useful in helping plants through times of stress, including drought, disease, and cold weather.”

Her report, published over at The Organic Broadcaster back in 2004, is ripe with info about seaweed and it’s application to agriculture (in case you were wondering, it seems that auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins and alginic acid are the things that do the trick).

If you’re interested in ways to improve the yield of your tomatoes (or, apparently, just about anything else that grows), you should take a few minutes and read it.

Now my only question is, who was the first person who saw a clump of seaweed floating in the surf and thought “ya know…I bet this stuff’d work wonders on my garden!”?

14 Responses to “Tomatoes Love the Beach: How Seaweed Can Improve Tomato Growth, Yield and Flavor”

  1. Steve Says:

    very interesting… tomatoes and…seaweed. just browsing blogroll sites so just stopping to say hi.

  2. deb Says:

    Yep, seaweed in the garden, good stuff.


  3. Rita Says:

    I use seaweed. First use it to bank the base of your house for the winter. It stops a lot of heat lose. Then in the spring it has been washed by the rain and snow melting. I use it on my garden. It seems to work for my tomatoes.

  4. Tomato Casual »  Salt Water Makes Tomatoes Healthier Says:

    […] talked about how seaweed can improve your tomato growth, yield, and flavor here, but did you know that simple seawater can also help your […]

  5. Susan Wolfe Says:

    Once a tomato plant is planted can you replant it again? I would like to replant several tomato plants deeper. Is that possible?

  6. Mike Varady Says:

    A combination foliar spray of seaweed and concentrated fish extract (diluted) sprayed on the top AND the bottom sides of leaves of almost any plant will improve its health and performance.

    But the seaweed extract works on the leaves. It has some compound that benefits growth, yet once it hits the soil that vanishes. So its benefit is on the leaves.

    It’s all very common. You can find this at any nursery, or even buy the stuff through the mail.

    Mike Varady

  7. Mike Varady Says:

    I should have added this: Yes, you can transplant tomatoes several times. Garden experts and nurseries recommend the final transplant being after at least two of them.

    The first time should be only after two (or more) true leaves have appeared, if you’re growing from seed.

    Later, you can clip off the bottom leaves and transplant into a pot, say, gently bending the stem and covering it with soil. If you look at the stem, there will be little bumps on it; these are incipient roots. (They may not develop, but probably will.) At a slight angle, you give the plant more base to grow roots and hold the soil. Never let the leaves touch ground, as the plant might get diseases from the soil.

    And, if you smoke, thoroughly wash your hands before touching the plants. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, and melon pears (a.k.a. pepinos, pepinos dolces) are closely realted to tobacco and can pick up different tobacco viruses from your hands. If you’re really strict about it, wash your hands in nonfat milk (I don’t smoke, so I don’t know if this is true.) You will think you’ll remember this, but it’s very easy to forget at the time of handling, so I suggest putting a sign right by the plants, saying WASH YOUR HANDS IF YOU SMOKE!!!!!!

    There is, of course, more; no one knows everything. But you can look up tomato growing online, or read books about it, or whatever. I’ve never passed up an article on tomato-growing. As much as I think I know, there’s always more I can learn.

  8. Mike Varady Says:

    Oh, lordy —

    I guess I could go on and on.

    If you buy your plants (tomato, pepper, pepino, eggplant) at a nursery, take off all the flowers and the buds when you transplant. Nurseries have found that having the flowers in bloom helps sell the plants.

    But the plant itself needs that energy to grow more roots. If you don’t clip off the flowers and buds, they’re the ONLY fruit you’ll get that season; but cutting off and letting the roots develop will promise many more.

  9. Linda Says:

    Just a comment about salt and tomatoes. I was told years ago(won’t say how many, might date myself) by an old Kentucky farmer; to always put 3 match heads, a Tablespoon of Epsom salt and a teaspoon of powdered milk into the hole when you were planting tomatoes. I’ve been doing so for years now and have never had a disappointing harvest. As to the seaweed: if you don’t live near the beach; simply go to the grocery store and buy some seaweed/kelp leaves (usually in the Oriental foods aisle) and make a seaweed “tea”. Saves lugging home a “stinky” mess and you don’t have to do the unending rounds of rinsing.
    Happy gardening!

  10. andy Says:

    a great seaweed product is sea magic, you can find it online at parks seeds.It’s a powder that you mix into a concentrate.
    I have been using it on all my plants for 3 years now with great rewards. It works well for perking up tired house plants also.

  11. Troy Says:

    We used seaweed on our garden every year when I was a kid. As mentioned above, it went around the base of the house for the winter and then on the garden in the spring. I don’t understand why almost every article I read about this says to rinse it very well before applying to your tomatoes. If salt or salt water is good for the plants, and so is seaweed, why would you rinse it???? I use it for mine and never wash it. All is well so far. I do have very well drained soil so maybe that is why I have not had problems.

  12. Dar Horn Says:

    I live on an island off the coast of Southern California. My native soil is a horrible clay. I gather large clumps of the kelp that washes up on the rocks and incorporate it into the garden soil. It, along with bokashi compost has turned my soil into a rich loamy productive soil. It smells great and I am beginning to notice earthworms. The yield, especially in tomatoes has been fantastic.

  13. Harry Piels Says:

    Incredible tomato yield this year! I lost the tag but must have been some kind of hybrid plants. The fruit is huge but a bit mushy. I’m thinking they might be good for frying(?) I have fond memories of mom’s fried tomatoes but can’t remember exactly how she made them. Just know it involved flour and (I think?) some bacon grease. She also reaped some incredibly good “gravy” from her recipe that we poured over the fried tomatoes.I know she used ripe, not green ones. This might be a PA dutch dish…Konnen Sie mich helfen?

  14. Rose Says:

    years ago, my dad had waterfront property/lot and planted a nice garden. and every year at least one full moon high tide would flood the property. I always wondered why the salt water didn’t kill the garden but instead it flourished and we had the best tomatoes, zucchini, green beans and everything else he planted. But if you think about it, they say the best way to prepare the garden for planting is to till fish emulsion into the soil and let stand for a week before planting… Mother Nature did it for my dad….

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