By Jon Bruce
MOUNT PLESANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- From the hardiest green thumb to the weekend weed warrior, most gardeners have a special secret to make their bounty bloom.
Whether building a green house, pumping in classical music or watering plants with filtered water, the tricks of the trade seem to be as vast as the garden section at your local home goods store. At a recent trip to the beach I discovered what lengths dedicated gardeners will go through to ensure a thriving patch.
I accompanied a group of friends to a rather secluded part of Sullivan's Island. The sun was shining, the humidity low. A brief, but powerful storm had blown through the previous night, bringing higher-than-normal surf and the usual assortment of sea creatures up onto the beach.
Two people dressed in flannel shirts, long parts, shoes, socks and floppy straw hats covered in a metallic reflective coating caught my eye. The couple had a dolly and several bucket, and even half a mile down the beach they could be seen repeatedly bending over, picking something out of the sand and tossing it into the bucket.
As they came closer, it became apparent the two were harvesting the scores of cannonball jellyfish that littered the shoreline.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources' website, large numbers of cannonball jellyfish appear every summer near the coast.
But why harvest dead jellyfish from the beach? Because of their nutrients.
The two were collecting the jellyfish to make homemade garden fertilizers and compost.
"It works very well," the woman said in broken English.
The National Gardening Association does consider fish as an organic alternative to fertilizer. New studies by McGill University also show fish emulsion can also be a safe and proven plant fungicide.
There is no doubt a huge market exists for man-made products like Miracle Grow or Natures Choice Fertilizer, but obscure techniques to get fruits, veggies and plants to pop are becoming more popular.
Local gardening expert Steve Parlsey says while he hasn't heard a whole lot about using fish or other marine life as fertilizer, he has had some pretty strange requests at Abide AWhile Garden Center in Mount Pleasant where he works as a manager.
"We've had people come in and ask for worms," Parlsey said. "Hundreds of pounds of worms."