Friday, April 19, 2013

Fish Like the Pilgrims

One of the fertilizers used by the pilgrims when the native americans taught them to grow corn was to put a fish in each hill of corn.

Fish is still one of the best organic fertilizers in an organic production system. But instead of putting a whole fish in the hole, today's fish is an emulsion from the parts of the fresh water fish that is left after the filet is removed.

The reason fish is such a good fertilizer is that it has a widely diverse set of nutrients and all are in an organic form. The calcium from the bones of the fish are especially good an countering blossum end rot in growing tomatoes. A dilute solution of fish works very well on both foliage and roots. It is mild enough that it will never burn. Just don't apply to the fruit.

Fish is somewhat expensive for the commercial grower but isn't to bad for the home grower. You can pick up a gallon at Sargents or Fleet Farm here in Rochester, MN.


  1. Hoping I have good results from my first trial of a fish emulsion and seaweed blend. Partly since I'm a new gardener, trying to learn as I go from experts like you all. Also because after I applied the first couple of gallons to my 20' x 30' garden plot according to the directions on the bottle, my 3-year-old managed to " help" me dilute the remaining concentrate. As per toddler protocol, it was an unknown amount of product in unknown amount of water. So, not wanting to waste it, I further diluted it and only judged my dilution on color. This just happened today. Now tonight I am worried I could have applied too much fertilizer. It was an 18 ounce bottle of Neptune's fish emulsion and seaweed blend (luckily a small bottle). I did end up wasting some of it. Based on your experience with these types of products and my poor quantity estimations, does it sound like my garden is at risk of over-fertilization? Thank you!

    1. Jenna, sorry it took a couple of days to get back to you. We had the first two sunny days in a row in weeks, so I spent most it outside. I don't think you have a problem with any dilution within reason. In fact you could probably use it straight without damaging the plants, but this would be way too much nitrogen and would over stimulate the plant much like a chemical fertilizer tends to do. So you could perhaps end up with rangy plants. Plus it would be pretty expensive. Let's call this an experiment and see how it turns out. If the plants aren't adversely affect at this point several days later, you are probably OK. I would be interested in how it turns out if you think of giving us a follow-up report in a month or so. I really enjoy that you are getting your children invoved in your gardening.