burying fish

suburbangreen(8)May 17, 2007

First of all I'm new to gardening. Pretty much from the beginning I chose to go organic. I only used the commercial 20-20-20 fertilizer a couple times and I diluted it.

I started a raised-bed veggie garden and bought the soil from a local company that makes a mix with roughly (I don't remember the exact mix) 10 percent green sand, 10 percent reg sand, I think 20 percent mulch, 20 percent compost, some clay and shale. I didn't realize the exact composition when I bought it in March. I just asked last week. I would have mixed in some native soil (black clay on the alkaline side)since the stuff is not actually soil. It hasn't worked to well for me, but I think it's turning around since some of the mulch and compost is decomposing further. Plus I've used fish emulsion liquid and slow release fish emulsion pellets. A couple weeks ago I sent a sample of the mixture to a lab to get tested so I would know exactly what's missing. I've also used no pesticides just an organic approved soap from walmart.

Now to my question. Both my brother-in-law and father-in-law are avid fishermen. On Mother's day they brought over stripped bass and cleaned them and we ate fish. I burying the scraps in my raised bed and in the native soil around my raised bed where I'm trying a couple tomato plants. I buried the scrap fairly deep, a foot or so. No birds or animals have been interested at least and I don't smell anything. I really think it's making a difference though. My tomato plants seem to have had a growth spurt especially the ones in my raised-bed. My father-in-law told me that the Indians told the pilgrims to plant a fish with each corn plant. I plan to add my first batch of homemade compost as mulch later this week. Maybe I can salvage a few tomatos and get a good fall crop.

Ever buried fish in your garden and does it work for you?

Thanks,

Pete

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I never buried them in the garden - at least not on purpose. ;) If I tried it here the raccoons would surely till the entire garden up for me. But I do add all the scraps to my compost pile on a regular basis. Works quite well that way.

I too have read the American Indian story of burying the fish when they planted corn. It can't hurt and it is bound to help the plants but you can accomplish the same thing by composting them and avoid all the deep digging. :^)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 11:09PM
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justaguy2(5)

Have never done it, but I am a catch and release kind of guy ;-)

Seems like a time tested tradition though.

I have a compost pile, but to tell the truth I have always questioned the value. The nutrients in the raw material I would rather have where the plants grow than under the pile.

I think the idea of burying some compostables when planting might make some sense.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 11:12PM
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Heathen1(10a)

I could SWEAR that I read that they buried the fish a couple years before they used that particular spot... but I know I read this before the web was invented, so I have no way to verify it.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 1:46AM
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robin_maine

We bury fish. It's an excellent source of nitrogen.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 6:34AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Buried fish are an excellant fertilizer. Some years ago, when alewives were a real problem on the beaches here, we harvested large quantities of them and put them in a trench around an apple tree. The following spring that tree blossomed for the first time in anyones memory and produced some good fruit. Folklore has it that American Indians used to put 3 Sunfish/Bluegill size fish with each corn seed at planting time.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 6:49AM
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hutch123

I don't normally bury the whole fish.

Just the scales, heads, insides etc left over after cleaning them. I bury the newspaper that I clean them on as well.

I have composted that stuff a time or two but much prefer to just bury it in the ground so that I don't have to deal with it ever again.

If you garden in rows you could bury the fish etc in the paths and then use those areas as rows next season.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 8:52AM
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suburbangreen(8)

Thanks,
That was pretty much what I expected.
Getting confident my garden is going to turn around

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 10:20AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

If you bury the bones it will add calcium too, correct? Over time, I mean.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 12:48AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Small, very small, amounts of calcium.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 8:29AM
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gardengrub

It's a great way to attract raccoons to your garden... but tomatoes LOVE it. I wish I could do it again this year but..

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 12:43AM
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jbann23(6 RI)

Pete, I've been waiting for someone to ask that question. The answer is a solid YES. It's one of the best fertilizers I've ever used. You were right to bury a foot down, that's below the smell zone. ;-) By the time the roots find the fish it'll be well on it's way and will provide amazing growth. Try it under any plant and you'll see amazing results. Just don't tell anybody you're doing it, some counties forbid it. I know, I know, why? I don't know any good reason why, they just do. Like taxes.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 9:36PM
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Scott Schluter

If it helps any, while I worked at the cranberry experiment station we were developing a fertilizer made from fish parts discarded from the fish plants. So yeah, a great idea.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 9:48PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

By the way Alaskan Fish Fertilizer, and other fish fertilizers, are made from fish.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 6:55AM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

If the animals are already around your place they might find the fish, but if they're not they won't - at least that's been our experience. One year when there was a fox around he dug up fish buried a foot deep. And kept digging every night even when all that was left was the smell. No foxes around since, and I've had no trouble.

This spring I dug a trench about 10" deep in a fifty foot row and laid in it some thawed last year's mackeral fillets from the freezer - about 50 of them - covered with a foot of soil and mulch. A month later they haven't been disturbed, and one of these days I'll transplant greens into it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 7:35AM
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Heathen1(10a)

Yeah, the one thing about burying the fish versus using it as a liquid fertilizer is you DO avoid that wonderful wafting odor! :D

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 11:23AM
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snappybob(SaTexas Zone 8)

I used to have a 55 gal aquarium that got cleaned about once a year usually in the spring or early summer. We would stir up the rocks in the bottom and just suck up as much of the cloudy water as we could. I would always move the water hose from one tomato plant to the other giving them all a little taste of the dirty fish tank water. They always loved it. So yes, anything to do with fish would be good.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 1:47PM
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nardbarn1(USDA 7 NC)

Buried fish remains in our compost pile - our dog got into it and rolled around in that mess - thought we'd never get rid of the smell

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 10:19AM
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prehnrex

The best way to bury fish is with a post hole digger.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 9:15AM
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organicguy(7)

I am also an avid fisherman and often bury fish in my garden, usually only 5"-6" deep and I have never had a problem with anything digging it up. It is usually completely broken down in only a few weeks, and is a great fertilizer.

Ron
The Garden Guy
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    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 10:07AM
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takadi(7)

Why bury fish when you can eat it? Just saying...

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 11:10AM
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organicguy(7)

I bury what remains after I c;ean or filet them, not good edible fish. Sometimes i may bring home a few "garbage fish", that are not usually edible, for fertilizer - like sea robins for instance!! :-)

Ron
The Garden Guy
** See Below . . .
Informative Articles, Ongoing Garden Journal &
Interactive Message Boards

Here is a link that might be useful: The Garden Guy Website & Blog

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 6:03PM
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takadi(7)

I guess I'm even more of a cheapskate...I use the leftover bones and head after I clean them and make soup out of it. The only thing I really "trash" are the guts, but I rarely get fish that fresh

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 7:07PM
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sudzy(5b IL)

Hi. I just have to add a word of warning. Please bury deeply. Years ago, a neighbor died from stepping on a buried fish bone while working in her garden. (I was told from tetanus) Now I know that we all have had our "shots" and don't garden barefoot, nevertheless, Smile, I needed to share it with you.
Sudzy

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 9:05PM
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jrh5548_hotmail_com

is shark meat ok to use in garden

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 10:10AM
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earthworm73(WA z8)

jon60647 my guess would be since it's a fish yup. I don't see why not. My only obstacle to burying fish in the garden is the wife. She would have a fit if she saw me do it. So I have to sneak around in the late night or early AM. Hehehe...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 3:39AM
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