Something’s Fishy in the Garden!
By: Julie Day
The story of the Native Americans planting a fish with each ear of corn may be legend, but fish fertilizer is nothing new. Fish and fish parts have been composted and used as fertilizer since ancient times, providing much-needed nutrients and minerals to soil, soil microbes, and plants. Modern commercial fish fertilizers make this practice easy for any gardener.
Made from byproducts of the fish-oil industry, fish fertilizer is a potent (albeit smelly) organic amendment to your lawn or garden. It’s used primarily as a source of nitrogen and trace minerals, and the granular meals also make a great soil conditioner.
Fish fertilizer is especially helpful for:
- Early Spring Feeding: The nutrients in fish fertilizer are released faster than other organic fertilizers, giving an early boost to lawns and gardens.
- Leafy Vegetables: Green leafy veggies such as lettuce benefit from the extra nitrogen in fish fertilizer. Applying it to foliage provides a quick boost to leafy plants and grasses.
- New Plants: Use fish fertilizer to encourage seedlings and new plantings.
Types of Fish Fertilizers
- Fish Emulsion: This is the least potent but most economical form of fish fertilizer, made from the liquid that’s left over after the fish are processed. This liquid fertilizer is used for foliar feeding or soil drenching and provides readily-available nitrogen and small amounts of phosphorus and potassium. Liquid fish fertilizers usually come as a concentrate that you dilute with water and apply with a sprayer, or pour it onto the soil.
- Fertilizer 101 (article)
- Debate over Organic vs. Chemical Fertilizers (article)
- How a Fish Becomes Fertilizer (Rainy Side Gardeners)
- What Is Hydrolyzed Fish Fertilizer? (doityourself.com)