Using fish emulsion/kelp liquid fertilizer..questions..

AdamM321(MA z5/6)August 1, 2005


I like to use Fish emulsion/kelp fertilizer. I follow the package directions for diluting with water and apply to the leaves. I am wondering about timing. If I spray the plant, and rain is predicted, is the fertilzer going to be wasted?

I mean, I think that once it is on the plant and DRIES on the leaves, that the plant has gotten it's dose and then if it rains, it doesn't matter. I have no idea why I think Is that right or wrong? How long does the solution have to be on the leaves to get all the benefit?

More questions..[g]...What about applying it when the plants are in full sun? I always think that I should apply it early in the morning before the hot sun is on them. Applying when the leaves are wet? I always think I should apply it to dry leaves or else it will drip off. What about the plant being either watered or not? I always think the plant should be thoroughly watered before I fertilize? What about applying it every day? If this is the only fertilizer you use, can it really promote as good a growth as something inorganic? IF every day is too much, what about once a week?

Phhewww! Can't think of any more


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peggy_g(Melbourne,Fl Z9)

The package directions don't answer these questions? I apply early in the morning, not in full bright sun, when leaves are dry(wet leaves will dilute your solution) and rain isn't expected. I use it every week or two at most. My understanding is that most of the nutrients are absorbed quickly and what isn't will be washed to the soil. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 3:12PM
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I was going to use fish emulsion - bought a whole bottle. It never made it to our gardens. Our Black Lab found the brand new bottle and decided she needed the stuff. She shared with the Bulldog too. Needless to say we now have two dogs with the most beautiful soft shiny coats!!

Thought I would warn you Adam, just in case you have pooches around. Oh, and watch out for the digging where you place the FE...

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 5:46PM
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Hi Adam,
I've used fish emulsion and liquid seaweed as a foliar spray and in watering buckets for several years and have had great success with both. I did some research when I started and here's what I found out; best to spray in the mornings or evenings as other posts stated, and can use in water buckets anytime of the day. It said the foliar spray is absorbed almost immediately so it was okay if it rained soon afterward. It even said that it was good to spray following a rain because the plants' leaf surfaces would accept the spray more readily. I put it in the watering buckets and foliar spray every two weeks, but it probably wouldn't hurt to do it more often if you wish. I don't know about watering it before you fertilize; I just do it on a schedule and don't worry about watering first. It is my favorite fertilizer (mixed with NEEM as an insecticide and fungacide) throughout the season. Good luck! Janet

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 12:36PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

peggy...yes, I was looking for gardener's experiences over whatever the label said. thanks

Thanks Tiffy for the warning about dogs. How did the dog get the bottle open? chew through it? We don't have a dog, but never know when we would.

Janet...thanks for sharing ...sounds like you have a lot of experience with it and sounds like I can do a lot of good by using it more than I am now and I guess I pretty much have the method of doing it pretty good.

New quesiton: Is it getting too late to fertilze perennials and shrubs? I know I can still do the annuals, but I thought I read recently that you shouldn't encourage new growth this late going into fall/winter.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 9:30PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

- wetting the plants in the heat of the full sun encourages leaf burn - best to foliar feed early so the plants are pretty much dry by mid-day, and foliar feeding is best used as a "booster" on laggard plants rather than a steady diet as it can encourage under-development of the root system that feeds the plant best and is vital for the transpiration of water needed in the hot part of the year
- fertilizing everyday is not good, once a week is plenty, and in a good soil every 2 weeks should be enuff
- very frequent use of fish fert only will unbalance the nutrient supply, providing much more N than the plant needs compared to P and K and all the other elements - might be ok on things where you want foliage growth [tho unnecessary], not good on fruiting things
- when fertilizing the ground, it is best if it's plain-watered beforehand so the applied fert can disperse into the root zone rather than just getting sucked up by dry soil right where it falls - commercially fertilizers are frequently injected into the irrigation system
- fertilizing late in the season may encourage late growth when the plant should be starting to 'harden off' [hence encouraging winter kill of the tender bits], but the timing depends on your micro-climate, and hardening off is aided by ceasing to water at all at the end of the season - I wouldn't fertilize perennials past now, early August, and we don't expect killing frost here before Oct, and fertilizing veg/flower plants w/ fish [excess N] now will prolly delay growth and maturing of the fruit/veggies/flowers


    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 10:39AM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Thanks Bill...lots of clarification in that post. Just what I was wanting to know. I can fertilize with the fish emulsion/seaweed with a lot more confidence.

Maybe you could tell me what you would use for the other applications that you note the fish emulsion is not good for?


    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 5:06PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

well aged compost, lots of compost - mixed in the garden soil before veggie planting, mixed into the planting hole or backfill soil for trees and shrubs, used as a water retaining and long term fertilizing mulch - I use fish on seedlings about once a week for the first 6 weeks or so to get good foliage growth happening, but also add bone meal and sometimes manures around plants for the P and K, and the seaweed/kelp will help there too - a healthy soil with a neutral pH doesn't need a lot of fertilizing for perenniels, shrubs and trees, except for yearly additions of compost, unless you're dealing with container plants

the fertilizing culture that the chemical companies have gotten us into lead most folks to think that plants need continuous additions of NPK to thrive, but it's actually the healthy soil microbial population that makes for long term fertility, converting and releasing organic nutrients for the mineral nutrient needs of the plants, and we need only insure that the necessary organics are always available, with some 'boosters' applied at the right times - early in the season the plants use more nitrogen to produce foliage, and phosphorus to grow good root structures, strong stems, and encourage bud growth - as the plant approaches 'adult size' and buds start happening, higher potassium insures flower/fruit formation - after fruit set happens, a balance of nutrients, including the minor and trace elements, with slightly lower nitrogen keeps it all happening - if the microbes have plentiful organic material to work on, fertilizing needs are really slight unless the plant is getting an excess of nitrogen

also the natural cycle for perenniels/shrubs is that when the dry time of the year slows nutrient uptake [thru lessened moisture availability], the plant shifts gears, slowing the production of new growth so tender parts harden and getting ready for dormancy by starting to storing the energy for next spring in stems and branches - cut down a fruit tree just before it breaks dormancy and watch the poor thing lying on the ground leafing out and blooming - I saw a cherry tree cut in the spring that had enough energy in it to actually set fruit!


    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 8:01PM
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Just to let you know, Raven, the Black Lab, actually chewed/bit right through the bottle. It had never been used.

I did buy another bottle and now use it to soak roots of new plants before transplanting. Then I plant, and cover with soil and compost, bring THE dog over to the plant, and give a stern 'No dig!'.

Yesterday found a dog bone in the compost. I turned around to face Raven sitting prettily with a brown nose staring at me as if to say 'No dig!'... Gotta love 'em!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 9:03PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi again Bill,

I had a good amount of finished compost this year and used most of it already when installing a new shrub border. I also added some to my containers in the beginning of the season. I never have enough of it. I guess once I have added compost if the plant is still under performing for me, I think I need to add something else.

I haven't fertlized seedlings that much, glad to know I can and will have to do that next year. I just bought a pump spray and it makes it easier to do.

When you say manure. I can buy bags of composted cow manure, but don't have access to fresh manure. You just side dress with that and bone meal? I always thought bone meal was for next year and wouldn't have any effect right away. Also, is there another material besides bone meal that will provide the same thing?

Yes, I do have about 18 containers some which include vegetables.

Thanks Bill for help understanding fertilzing. I think that is my weak area.

Tiffy...your dog sounds SO cute and I love his name. Makes me want to run out and buy a I would have to find a NO DIG dog though. [g]


    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 6:39AM
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I've recently found some bottles of liquid FE and Kelp in the basement that is 10 or more years old! Can I still use this? O_Bren

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 2:49PM
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organic_bren Old Fish Emulsion and Kelp Hi, I recently discovered old bottles (10 or more yrs) forgotten in my basement. Can I still use these? I think age makes them better, but some others say no. Thx

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 3:25PM
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From what I under stand from the Neptune's Harvest folks, as long as the bottle cap is sealed tight you should have no problems re-using it after any length of time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fish & Seaweed fertilizers FAQ's

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 3:34PM
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organic bren I sure hope 2 years wasn't too long to wait for an answer to your question LOL.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 7:59PM
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can i use fish emulsion on my japanese yews.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 6:46AM
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i have found over my 30 or so gardening years that fish emulsion is good for my garden at bloom time.i grow mellons,cantalope,tomatoes,potatoes,peppers,peanuts,corn.during the blooming process i spray the blooms very good of my mellons.i start out with 8-8-8- to start then change during season to match vegs.after my potatoes bloom i use 5-10-30 byweekly for making potatoes--the mellons i spray with emulsion evey 2 weeks.tomatoes once monthly with emulsion and M.G. every week.peppers the same as tomatoes.corn i dont use fish emulsion.i apply 10-10-10 --then nitrogen while raining

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 10:33AM
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I use the maxi crop liquid seaweed. I do a lot of cuttings over winter inside. It says use 1tsp per gal and when my plants show sign stress or wilting I put them over a screen over the sink and drench them with liquid seaweed. I dont stop until I see good drainage. I do this at least every two weeks sometimes sooner. Usuall alternate between water soaking and seaweed. I put pix of plants online and people remark how green my plants are from top to bottom. This is quite noticable. I dont know if this is the best seaweed to buy but for me it lasts a long time. I ordered two green bags of the dry powder had it 4yrs and havent opened the second one yet.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 10:35PM
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You might want to review the attached link. There is a great deal of mythology associated with foliar fertilizing. Generally I recommend against it - not a reliable or very efficient method for plants to obtain necessary nutrients and will often lead to increased disease most other overhead or foliar water will do.

As far as the quality of the product is concerned, fish/kelp/seaweed emulsion is one of the very few soluble or liquid organic fertilizers. And is therefore a great organic product to use with containers, as granular or powdered organics are not very effective under those conditions. Also fine for any inground plants as well. And the stuff has a fair amount of micronutrients, which is also above average for most other organic fertilizers. So all in all, a pretty decent product to use, just not ideal if used solely as a foliar application.

Here is a link that might be useful: the myth of foliar feeding

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 6:20PM
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