Using fish as fertilizer

Have you ever caught a bunch of fish and thought it was a shame throwing out perfectly good fertilizer?  Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to save money by using fish to grow your plants instead of fertilizer developed in a lab?  Read on to learn my tips on using fish as fertilizer.

Most people think that saving fish for fertilizer is strange or gross but people have been doing this forever.  Anybody remember the story of the Native Americans helping the Pilgrims grow corn?  Using fish as fertilizer worked out pretty well for them! 

For some reason, people would rather shell out big bucks for store bought fertilizer than use what has been given to them.  That is their choice so I won't knock them but why would you pay money for something you can get for free?  A compost pile or some fish remains work just as well as something store bought.

So how do you go about using fish as fertilizer in a modern setting without upsetting others?  The pioneers of this country did not have to worry about their neighbor a mile away but a " Metro Pioneer" is not that lucky.  Nobody wants to be that guy that has the funky smell coming from his yard...

The first thing you will need to think about when deciding to keep fish remains is what part of the country do you live in and what time of year it is.  I live in the Midwest so I will go over what I do with my fish during all four seasons.

Winter-  The winter is the second easiest season for me to keep fish as fertilizer.  Most winters, the temps remain below freezing so I simply put my fish in my compost pile until spring.  I do not compost in the winter because it gets too cold for the process to work so this works out well.

Wrap each pile of fish in cardboard and put in a brown bag for easy separating in the spring

I try to go ice fishing every weekend so I usually have at least a few fish per trip that I clean.  This leaves me a pretty good pile come spring.  A word of advice, do not waste any time getting rid of the fish in the spring.  Once the ground is thawed enough to work, get the fish buried or you will have a nasty mess on your hands.

Another thing to consider is if you have pests like raccoons around your house.  Luckily, I do not have this issue.  If you do, you probably don't want to leave your fish out like this or you will be starting up a sushi bar for customers you might not want. 

Spring/ Fall-  The spring/fall is the easiest to keep fish as fertilizer.  This one is pretty simple.  Dig some holes in your garden area, put the freshly caught fish remains in, bury the hole.  Make sure to bury the fish a couple feet deep or raccoons or other pests will be able to pinpoint the remains.  This will also eliminate all smell.

Summer- The summer is the hardest season to keep fish remains in but it can be done.  If you leave an area of your garden fallow, bury the fish there like you did in the spring/fall and you are good to go.  If you maximize your garden, try doing what I do.

I have an overflow freezer in my garage and by summer it is usually empty.  This makes perfect room for fish guts!  This may sound gross freezing fish remains but there is no smell or mess if you wrap the fish remains in cardboard then paper bags and freeze them.  Once fall comes, bury the bags of fish in the ground and you are good to restock the freezer with venison.

Ready for the freezer!

If you do not have a spare freezer, you might consider buying a cheap freezer off Craiglist for the remains.  This may sound stupid to spend a hundred bucks to freeze fish guts but if you catch enough fish and plan on doing it for awhile, 2 bucks a month to run a freezer (plus the initial cost) will be cheaper than a couple bags of fertilizer in no time.

That sums up my tips for keeping fish as fertilizer, hopefully some of you will try a couple tips from the article.  Please respond back with any comments or suggestions you have tried in the past.  I would love to hear from you!

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