Yesterday, the boys and I met my dad at the beach to collect our favorite mulch for the garden–eelgrass. Eelgrass looks like seaweed, though technically it’s a flowering plant that grows in estuaries or shallow, marshy, tidal areas along coast.  It often washes up on beaches, collecting in piles around the high tide line.   Like seaweed, eelgrass functions well as a mulch in terms of keeping weeds down, and is also rich with nutrients and is great for the soil as it decomposes.  My stepmother is a huge gardener–flowers are her thing–and for as long as I can remember while growing up, the gardens around our house were always mulched with eelgrass.   I recall her spending days at a time spreading wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of eelgrass that she’d collected over the beds. Right now in our garden, the weeds are coming up like crazy.  I really need to pull them out of there, then get some mulch on the ground to help keep them down.  So yesterday that was our mission–to collect as much eelgrass for the gardens as possible.  The boys and I were thrilled to see such big piles of the stuff washed up on the beach.  With much help from my Dad, we stuffed handfuls of it into large trash bags and filled up the back of our car, then went back for some fun squishing around barefoot in the marshy mud.  Thank you ocean for so much goodness for our garden!  If you go in search of the stuff yourself,  remember that it’s important only to collect eelgrass (or seaweed for that matter) that is no longer alive.  Don’t pull up anything growing in the ground or attached to rocks–just take the loose stuff.   And, don’t forget to put a tarp down in the back of your car—eel grass that you collect will be in various stages of decay, and can be really smelly.  I can tell you from personal experience that it can take a LONG time to get the smell out of your car if it gets onto the seats.  But, it’s so worth it.  The gardens love it….. I have a childhood fondness for that that marshy smell anyway:-)

Connor, Ian, and Bumpa collecting eel grass

Ian collecting eel grass, July 2010

Connor collecting eel Grass, July 2010