There are plenty of old wives' tales about fertilizing gardens. On one hand, some of them seem completely crazy, but when you look into creating your own organic fertilizer, some actually end up making sense.
When we started our little garden back in the spring, we knew we didn't want to use any chemicals. We built our compost that we could use later on in the season. I sprinkled eggshells throughout the rows. We bought organic humus and wheat straw to hold in the water.
But our little garden needed something more.
In a conversation with my father one afternoon, he told me the story of his great-grandfather, a Creek Indian, who dug deep holes for his tomato seeds to place fish heads underneath.
'My first reaction was simply, "GROSS." But after some research, I found tons of recipes for creating my own "fish smoothie." (Still sounds gross, though, right?)
One of the easiest ways to create this nutrient-rich emulsion is to either save your own fresh fish remains from cooking or grab some at the seafood counter.
We started our fish fertilizer with the leftovers from a fresh catfish purchase. Since I didn't want to have to clean every bit off the bones – catfish are a pain to clean – I saved all the extras to recycle onto our garden.
What you'll need:
Leftover fish parts – guts, heads-skin/scales, etc. (about 2 lbs.)
Five gallon bucket with lid
Cheesecloth or strainer
Large plastic spray bottle
Put all of the fish scraps into your bucket. Cut 5-6 large holes in the bucket lid, about the size of a half dollar.
Fill the bucket about ½ to ¾ with water.
Stir well and cover with the lid.
Let your mixture stand for a day or two, stirring every so often. I schedule our "stir time" around when we water the garden.
After about 2-3 days, strain out the remaining fish parts with an old strainer or cheesecloth.
Your fish smoothie is now ready to be sprayed onto your garden.
You only want to spray once or twice a month on your garden. Place undiluted fish emulsion in a spray bottle and spray every other weekend tops, depending on rain and weather, and always at the roots.
For potted plants, dilute your emulsion 1-1 with water and spray every three weeks.
The difference this nutrient-rich fertilizer makes is just amazing.
Note: Yes, for certain this recipe does not smell good. But not only does this emulsion help grow your garden, it also helps keep away bugs!
What's in fish emulsion that helps the plants?
The main ingredients in fish emulsion are the main ingredients you want from any fertilizer, what many organic and gardening folks call N-P-K, along with tons of micronutrients that flowers, vegetables and grass love.
The best part about fish emulsion is that when synthetic fertilizers are more likely to overfeed and shock your plants, your stinky fish smoothie isn't. As your fish mix breaks down, it slowly releases nutrients into the soil in a natural and much safer way.
Twinkle VanWinkle has more than 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and has appeared on Food Network's "The Best Of..." Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, urban gardener, chef, musician and social media fanatic.
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