I have studied organic gardening for 60 years and raised many large gardens. I have read Organic Garden Magazine most of my life
Is Sea Salt Good For Plants?
The setting was Chicago in the 1940s. Dr. Murray was puzzling over a mystery in American health. In his medical practice, Dr. Murray saw that although the American lifespan had grown, degenerative diseases such as cancer and chronic illnesses were on the rise. He wrote, "Americans hold the dubious distinction of being among the sickest of populations in modern society."
Dr. Murray noticed that sea animals had few, if any, of these diseases. For example, freshwater lake trout regularly developed liver cancer at five years old, but sea trout did not.
Dr. Murray knew that seawater held an abundant supply of balanced nutrients best for sustaining a healthy life, such as sodium, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and trace amounts of many other minerals. Contrary to this, the soils of farms today are becoming increasingly depleted of minerals through bad agriculture processes—not to mention the natural rainwater run-off drawing nutrients and soils to rivers and running out to sea.
A more recent study revealed that the nutrients in food that were being impaired by soil depletion include protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and ascorbic acid, according to a study published in 2004 by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. The study relied on data of about 43 garden crops spanning 5 decades (1950-1999). Other nutrients that could be compromised by soil depletion, but weren't part of the study, include magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.
Dr. Murray theorized that by adding balanced nutrients back to the soil, plants would absorb these nutrients. These plants would become our food, providing us with the elements necessary to throw off disease. Dr. Murray, besides being a physician, was also a biochemist and research scientist. So he purchased a farm and began applying seawater, and later sea salt fertilizer, directly to the soil.
His results were impressive from the start.
9 Benefits of Sea Salt Fertilizers
In growing foods properly fertilized with sea salt fertilizers, Dr. Murray found these beneficial results:
- Increased plant growth
- Larger and more abundant crops
- Plants have greater resistance to pests and disease
- Food tastes better
- Food is slower to decay
- Higher levels of vitamins and sugars
Wheat fertilized with 4/10 of a gallon per acre saw this nutritional result:
- Vitamin B1 increased by 35%
- Vitamin B2 increased by 10%
- Niacin increased by 38%
- Vitamin E increased by 15%
The brand name of sea salt fertilizer used in this case was Ocean Trace.
Dr. Murray next asked: Would this resulting improvement in the food be passed on to improved health for animals? Again, his ideas were proven by his research:
- Lowered rates of cancer in mice who had been bred to develop breast cancer and die.
- The mice not only lived longer, they were healthier.
- The mice had five times more litters. The mice were more fertile.
Read More From Dengarden
How to Apply Sea Salt Fertilizer
Here are 9 different ways to apply sea salt fertilizers.
- You can apply sea salt by itself mixed with water, or you can mix it with other water-soluble fertilizers or fungicides to minimize the number of times to spray. First, dissolve the sea salt in a small amount of water and filter out any sediment. Then put 1 teaspoon of sea salt in 1 gallon of water. Second, combine the sea salt and water in a garden sprayer. Add any fertilizers or fungicides to the sprayer at the recommended rate per gallon. Third, spray the plants until the water begins to run off. Repeat the application every one to two weeks during the growing season. (Note: The best time to foliar spray like this is before 8 am or after 6 pm. Plants have little mouths called stoma scattered over the leaves. The stoma open up during these hours and can accept more nutrients.)
- If you are near a relatively clean beach, you can dip directly into the ocean and water your plants. In this case, you apply 1200–1300 milliliters per square foot of soil. Of course, you would not want to use seawater from a polluted bay.
- Another way is to mix 1 teaspoon of ocean water in 3 tablespoons of water per square foot. Foliar spray with this four times a year, or apply directly to the soil. If you foliar spray, remember to do so when the stoma are open.
- Enrich the soil in your garden before planting. Scatter 1 cup sea salt per 100 square feet. Till the sea salt into the top 12 inches of soil. Generously water to dilute the sea salt.
- To fertilize your lawn, apply with a spreader 3 pounds of sea salt to every 1500 square feet of grass. Slow water your lawn with a sprinkler or sprinkler system for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Fertilize trees every four months. Sprinkle sea salt over the roots of trees 2 tablespoons every 8 square feet. Then slow water with drip, soaker, or bubbler hose to dilute the sea salt.
- Give flowers a monthly application. Sprinkle a half cup of sea salt around flowers. Keep the salt at least 3 inches away from the base of the plants. Water well.
- Fertilize garden vegetables every two weeks. Mix 3 tablespoons of sea salt in 1 gallon of water. Foliar spray with a handheld sprayer.
- Sea salt can be used on house plants, too. Mix 2 tablespoons of sea salt with 1 gallon of water. Use once a month. The solution will keep for three months.
Always water outdoor plants after applying sea salt to dilute sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is a natural nutrient that plants need, but too much can cause slowed growth and yellowed foliage.
Seaweed fertilizers and fish emulsion have many good nutrients in them also. But with these two fertilizers, the nutrients have to be changed by micro-organisms first before the plant can use them. Sea minerals are directly available.
Sodium and chloride are in a natural balance in sea minerals. But when part of the sodium chloride is removed, it allows for a higher application rate of the fertilizer than otherwise. This is especially useful for farmers with high salt soils.
Sea Salts, an Economical Fertilizer
Sea salts are an economical, wide-range fertilizer that will give you excellent results. My husband loves to talk with people about gardening. He always tells them about sea salt fertilizers, because they make the food taste so much better and create such healthy plants.
- How to Fertilize Plants With Sea Salt (SF Gate)
- Sea Salt Fertilizer for Broad-Spectrum Nutrition (The Organic Gardener's Pantry)
- Sea Salt Fertilizer — My Favorite Fertilizer (Smiling Gardener)
- How to Fertilize With Sea Salt (eHow)
- How Is Soil Depletion Affecting Your Food? (Vitacost)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: For roses and hydrangea is planting in sea salt good?
Answer: If instructions are followed as in the article, yes sea salt would be good for roses and hydrangea.
© 2019 Doneta Wrate
Doneta Wrate (author) from Michigan on April 26, 2019:
Seaweed is great as a fertilizer in many ways, but it is low in nitrogen. Many people supplement it with fish fertilizers.
Ann Carr from SW England on April 26, 2019:
Yes, seaweed is quite abundant on our beach. Although muddy, I think the sea is clean (it is also a river estuary at the south end). I'll do further research before I try that but it sounds a better solution for me.
Thank you for that - most helpful, Doneta!
Ann Carr from SW England on April 26, 2019:
Fascinating. I enjoy gardening and having moved house I had to totally re-shape my garden and am now in a position to be able to grow more plants and vegetables.
I also live close to the beach so I'll try what you suggest. My concern is that salt could actually be detrimental to some plants - the winds here are strong (as often happens close to the sea) and carry salt with them, the result being that some plants are 'burnt' by the stronger breezes. However, I'll read this again and try to follow your advice.
Informative and interesting! Thank you.
Doneta Wrate (author) from Michigan on April 15, 2019:
Thank you for your comments
Dr Africa L Rainey from Arlington Heights, IL on April 15, 2019:
Doneta Wrate (author) from Michigan on April 14, 2019:
Thank you for your comment. That is an interesting bit of information.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 14, 2019:
This is an interesting article packed with a lot of useful information and advice. As I read your introduction, it reminded me of how I have often noticed that after swimming in the sea, wounds always heal quicker.