Friday, May 15, 2009

Is there a Fishmonger in the house?

I decided recently that because we don't have great soil, don't do raised beds, and don't know what we're doing that we should start fertilizing the garden on some sort of schedule. I did a few minutes of online research and looked in my gardening books and determined that the safest fertilizer for us fish goo.

This fish emulsion is supposed to be quite good for many plants in the garden, but the kicker that sold me on it was that it's supposed to be quite foolproof and isn't supposed to burn plants. I'm sure other fertilization methods might be better, but they probably involve a learning curve and my garden can't afford another Kate-learning-curve if it's going to continue to grow this season. The Kate-learning-curve is like playing Russian Roulette with my plants and I can see them quivering with fear as I stand there squinting my eyes trying to read another set of directions on the side of a bottle.

Fish emulsion fertilizer was hard to find, but we eventually located a gallon of the stuff at our local small-town Ace hardware store. When I bought it the cashier (who's worked there for 20+ years) told me that I should save myself some money and make my own. She then told me her recipe for stewing up fish guts and storing it in big pickle buckets for use on her garden. I told her that we don't fish (which surprised her because everyone fishes in her world) but that I'd definitely come to her if we ever end up with any spare fish guts and no plans of what to do with them.

So I mixed this junk up and sprayed it on the garden. I couldn't find anywhere online that said how or where to apply it so I just sprayed it all over everything - the leaves, soil, stems, anything that looked like it would benefit. The problem with this method is that if you are getting spray-happy and waltzing around your garden spritzing the most foul-smelling rotten fish juice you can imagine on your plants and then find yourself downwind of the stuff, you're covered from head to toe before you know it. I didn't think it'd be that bad - afterall, the stinky smell was clearly the garden and not me.

When I was finished I walked over to the boys who were catching lovebugs and feeding them to the chickens and Aidan said "AHHHH! What's that stinky smell?"

"It's the fish goo I sprayed on the garden," I said. "You're smelling the garden."

He walked closer and sniffed my arm.

"YUCK!" he wretched. "It's you! You smell like cat food."

Well the boy was right. I came inside and washed my hands - twice. I tasted fish when we ate dinner last night, yet we had ham. My two Siamese cats were following me around all night in a most-disturbing manner - chattering and flicking their tails as I wafted past them.

So lesson learned: Never stand downwind when you're spraying fish fertilizer.


Sandra said...

I've heard great things about fish emulsion too. I bought some but haven't used it because I really don't like the smell, and because my dogs seem overly interested in it. And that makes me wonder if the raccoons, skunks, opossums and other critters will also be drawn to it. But I haven't heard anyone comment whether that's true. Does anyone know? Hope it works well for you.

Carole said...

Do you have chips with your fish?
Just kidding. Keep up the good work you never know your gardner friend up the road may come to you for advice.

Erin said...

That's funny! I used it on my seedlings I started late winter. It worked wonderfully but the house would smell to high heaven when I was done "spritzing" them! I learned quickly not to have company over until the day AFTER I sprayed my seedlings!

Cheryl said...

I actually tried to make it from scratch. Don't know if it works yet, though.

Kate and Crew said...

I'm still trying to figure out how often you should apply the fish emulsion. Anyone have a clue? The wrapper on the bottle isn't much use. I wonder if I do it every few months or every few weeks or days or what??

Sande - That's interesting about it attracting wild animals. I did a quick Google search on that and there are other people saying they had to stop using it for that reason.

Erin - BLECH! It's some stinky stuff! LOL. It's not an appropriate smell for guests.

Cheryl - WOW. I'm impressed. Have you blogged about your method for this??? I'm very interested in how it all works out.

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