Fish as Garden Fertilizer

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

Volunteer Sudduth Brandywine TomatoWhen 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.