Fertilizing with fish might sound like some kind of newfangled all-natural farming practice, but it’s actually been popular since the ancient Egyptians used fish to make crops more fertile. Before Columbus landed, Native Americans were using whole fish in the soil before planting their crops. Artificial fertilizers only became popular in the late 20th century,
What is Fish Fertilizer?
Many types of fish fertilizer contain fish protein, that comes in several different forms. Liquid fish fertilizer is one of the most popular types, containing many fish nutrients. Fish meat and bones contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, creating balanced nutrition for both plants and soil microorganisms.
You can also find fish fertilizer in the form of dried fish meal, which is a solid ground mixture that’s made from fish byproducts and whole fish and is great for slow-release fertilizing. It contains ~11% Nitrogen. Fish emulsion is a half-decomposed mixture of ground-up fish that is dried and can contain up to 5% nitrogen.
Benefits of Fish Fertilizer
As you walk around any garden center, you’ll see lots of different brands marketing fertilizing products suitable for flowers, bushes, grass, and trees. However, dried fish fertilizer offers a few unique benefits where artificially-manufacturers products fall short.
- Natural, organic (derived from living cells), and chemical free
- Fast-acting fertilizer that supplies nutrients quickly
- Effective for an instant boost at the start of growing season
- Suitable for a wide variety of vegetables, flowers, trees, and crops
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
- Prevents root burn associated with many chemical fertilizers
- Stimulates microorganisms in the soil
- Single fertilization lasts 4-5 months
How to Use Fish Fertilizer
Seagate Fish Fertilizer Concentrate makes it easy to fertilize with fish! It is a fertilizer derived from whole anchovies and sardines caught along the shores of Baja California, then processed into a highly concentrated powder.
To use, apply below the surface of the soil and pour into a small hole near the plant’s roots. All you need is one teaspoon for existing small plants and new plantings; however, larger plants and rose bushes would benefit from one or two heaping tablespoons every 4-5 months.
It’s perfect for huge rose blooms and to help plants and trees be more resistant to insects and disease. Orchids, canna, ginger, lady palms, and ornamental grasses particularly love fish fertilizer. You might smell a slight fishy odor at first unless it is is applied below the soil. But don’t worry, it fades quickly.
Fish Compost and Scraps
If you live near a water source or are an avid fisherman, you may be able to use fish scraps to create your own fish compost at home. Don’t just dump the fish innards and waste back into where it came from! Not only does composting reduce waste, but it’s also a cost-saving measure that can benefit both your plants and your wallet.
Mix the fish waste with other compost materials, such as wood chips, bark, leaves, and sawdust. To facilitate productive decomposition, a space of at least 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet is recommended. To reduce odors and to avoid unwanted pests, bury the fish waste below your other compost materials and monitor aeration.