By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Fish emulsion benefits to plants and ease of use make this an exceptional fertilizer in the garden, especially when making your own. For more information on using fish emulsion on plants and how to make fish emulsion fertilizer, please continue reading.
What is Fish Emulsion?
Using fish for fertilizer is not a new concept. In fact, settlers at Jamestown used to catch and bury fish to use as fertilizer. Organic farmers across the globe use fish emulsion in place of toxic chemical fertilizers.
Fish emulsion is an organic garden fertilizer that is made from whole fish or parts of fish. It provides an NPK ratio of 4-1-1 and is most often used as foliar feed to provide a quick nitrogen boost.
Homemade Fish Emulsion
Making your own fish emulsion fertilizer may seem like a daunting task; however, the smell is well worth it. Homemade fish emulsion is cheaper than commercial emulsions, and you can make a big batch at one time.
There are also nutrients in homemade emulsion that are not in commercially available products. Because commercial fish emulsions are made from trash fish parts, not whole fish, they have less protein, less oil, and less bone than homemade versions that are made with whole fish, making homemade fish emulsion benefits even more amazing.
Bacteria and fungi are necessary for soil health, hot composting and disease control. Homemade versions contain lots of bacterial microorganisms while commercial emulsions contain few, if any, microorganisms.
A fresh emulsion fertilizer mixture can be easily made from one-part fresh fish, three-parts sawdust, and one bottle of unsulfured molasses. It is usually necessary to add a little water too. Place the mixture in a large container with a lid, stirring and turning daily for about two weeks until the fish are broken down.
How to Use Fish Emulsion
Using fish emulsion on plants is a simple process as well. Fish emulsion always needs to be diluted with water. The usual ratio is 1 tablespoon of emulsion to 1 gallon of water.
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray directly on plant leaves. Diluted fish emulsion can also be poured around the base of plants. A thorough watering after fertilizing will help plants take up the emulsion.