I want to share a story about my father as an innovative gardener. He recently died so I am writing about him to honor his memory. He used fish as garden fertilizer. You might say that is not so innovative, some Indians would bury fish with the seeds at planting time. In today’s times it is not so usual to use fish in the garden.
Fish as Garden Fertilizer Was Embarrassing to a Teenager
When I was a teenager, which was a long time ago, my father would go down to the river where people fished and collect all the dead fish. He would bring the fish home and bury it in his garden. Can you imagine how embarrassing that is for a teenager?? He made a habit of this until the fish was buried throughout the garden. Actually, I think this was a brilliant idea. The soil in his garden was so rich and productive. It was because of all the composting fish. And it was free–it didn’t cost any money. It did cost a lot in time and hauling though. As I remember the luscious tomatoes and all the other delicious vegetables that came out of that garden, I think it was well worth it. Aside from the taste can you imagine the vitamins and minerals in those vegetables.
I don’t remember the garden smelling. I am assuming that my father buried the fish quite deeply. Have you ever lived near someone who had a load of horse or cow manure dumped on their garden? That really smells. I think the fish would smell much worse if it wasn’t buried deeply.
Using Fish as Garden Fertilizer Has Some Drawbacks
We once had a dog in the country. Every once in a while our dog would come home stinking to high heaven. Dogs love to roll in stinky stuff. We figured out that our dog had found some dead fish and rolled around in it.
I just recently found out that our family dog would dig up the fish in the garden and roll in it. How gross! My father put up a fence around the garden which kept the dog from digging up the buried fish.
Fish as garden fertilizer greatly enhances a garden. If the fish is free and you have time it would be great for your garden. But it is a big job. It’s a great idea but maybe too much work for some of us.
With much sadness, regret and pain in my heart I want to tell you about the death of a gardener. My father died in September. He was a wonderful gardener, innovative and hard working. I learned a lot from him and he passed on his love of gardening to me. He gardened for over 50 years. I feel grateful for all that he taught me and for the love of gardening that I have.
He Grew Wonderful Tomatoes
He grew green beans, cucumbers, squash, cantaloupes, peppers, raspberries and tomatoes. His tomatoes were the most wonderful tomatoes. They were Juicy, large and rich in flavor like the heirlooms of today. He also grew a cherry tomato for which he couldn’t remember the name. He bought it years and years ago and it keeps growing every spring without any encouragement or planting. They are large cherry tomatoes with a wonderful flavor. They are prolific–sprouting everywhere in the springtime. They grow to over 8 feet tall and would probably grow taller if they had the right support. By the end of the season they are leaning over the tops of my tomato cages which are probably 7 feet tall. They are truly delicious.
Sharing the Gifts of His Garden
I must describe his dining room table in the summer time. it would be covered with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Beautiful to behold. And then came the sharing… Anyone who came in he would say: “Take some tomatoes with you–as much as you can use! Get a bag and fill it up” Or peppers or cucumbers or green beans. (Though the green beans would be in the refrigerator.) It gave him great pleasure to give away the fruits of his labors. Granted they did eat a lot also!
Raspberries and the Death of a Gardener
He had a beautiful raspberry patch. My family enjoyed picking and eating raspberries for years. There would be bowls and bowls of raspberries– beautifully red and delicious! And he also gave away extra raspberry plants. Thanks to my wonderful father I have my own beautiful raspberry patch.
This year a strange thing happened. No raspberries grew. We didn’t know if the neighbors had put down some herbicide on their side of the fence. Maybe somehow it had killed all our raspberries also?? Now I think I know–somehow they didn’t just grow this year because it was my father’s last year. It’s just kind of really weird.
We will all miss him greatly. May he rest in peace…..
See two more posts on things I learned from my father:
Mindfulness and Appreciation in the Garden
Using Fish As Garden Fertilizer