Using Fish Emulsion or fish fertilizer has become a vital part of my gardening. Fish Emulsion is the perfect solution to give your plants an organic boost of nitrogen.
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Using Fish Emulsion
Sometimes, the perfect fertile soil in your backyard garden just isn’t in the works. Using fish emulsion or fish fertilizer can be a great organic solution to help give your plants a little boost during the growing season.
Fish emulsion is a natural organic garden fertilizer that is made from whole fish or fish parts.
Yes, it’s a gross as it sounds. Basically, it’s ground up fish!! But it provides a liquid fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 5-1-1 (or sometimes 4-1-1). Because it is a liquid it can be used on foliar applications that can provide a quick nitrogen boost to many struggling plants!!
Benefits of Using Fish Emulsion
- It’s organic – Many brands are even certified organic
- It is made from leftover fish parts that would otherwise be wasted
- Most brands come with an NPK of 5-1-1 or 4-1-1
- Fish Emulsion also contains trace minerals like calcium, Magnesium, & Sulfur
- It can be applied directly to the plant’s foliage for a quick boost
- Fish Emulsion is very mild so it is safe to use and when used as directed it won’t burn plants
How I use Fish Emulsion in the garden
I use fish emulsion every couple of weeks for high nitrogen demanding crops. Every 2 or 3 weeks I mix up a batch of full strength fish emulsion (fish emulsion is always mixed with water, usually 2 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water). I then water it on to my crops using a watering can. It is great for crops that really thrive on nitrogen like corn, onions, lettuces, and other greens. And is often a great boost to many other plants as well.
It is also a perfect, organic fertilizer solution for container gardening. Container-grown plants need fertilizer and using fish emulsion every couple of weeks will keep your container grown plants looking healthy and growing well!
It’s pretty hard (but not impossible) to burn plants with fish emulsion. It is organic and fairly low on the NPK scale so it’s fairly safe to use on most plants.
We also love to use it on our flowers. Normally I worry a little less about organic when it comes to flowers, but we have started growing more and more edibles in our flowerbeds so now we only fertilizer our flowers with fish emulsion.
Using fish emulsion to water seedlings seems to be just about perfect! We mix up a batch at 1/2 strength for vegetables (read your label) and then just water the seedlings from the bottom, allowing the water to soak up through the bottom of the containers. The fish emulsion gives the seedlings a great nitrogen burst and keeps them healthy and strong while growing in what would otherwise be a very nutrient poor seed starting mix. Don’t start this weekly application on seedlings until they have been up and growing for at least 2 or 3 weeks.
What brand do I use
I have been using this Alaskan Brand for many years now (this is not a sponsored post, I just like the stuff). It is organically certified by ORMI so it is safe to use if you are worried about growing organically.
It comes in both quart and gallon sizes and has an NPK profile of 5-1-1. The smell on this one is pretty mild. It is available online and I have also bought it locally at many of the nurseries and even a few big box stores.
Most manufacturers now include a little deodorizer in their mix, and Alaskan brand does as well.
What about the smell??
So the smell is the one big drawback of fish emulsion. Because it is basically just ground up fish it does have a smell. I have found that the Alaskan brand that I buy is fairly mild. But you are not going to be using this to fertilize houseplants!! Even the milder brands still have a VERY distinct fish smell. If you have ever been to a fish market or even just to an ocean pier when a lot of fishing happens, then you know the smell.
I have found that the smell hangs around my plants for a day or two and then dissipates We only use it on our seedlings if we are growing them in our garage, not inside the house. I have never noticed the smell attracting animals, but if you live somewhere with a lot of critters I would imagine they would be drawn to the smell.
Overall despite the smell, I have found fish emulsion to be a great ORGANIC fertilizer for most of my garden plants. It is mild enough that you can apply it as often as every week without the fear of burning your plants, and the fact that it is liquid is great because you can apply it directly to the plant’s foliage for a really quick boost when needed.