Many of us are reaching that point in the gardening season — two weeks after plants emerge from the soil — when we’re ready to apply the first round of fertilizer. To a lot of us, that means applying organic seaweed and fish fertilizer.
Now a lot of our gardening friends don’t think we’re in our right mind when we let our enthusiasm for fish fertilizers show. They’ll ask, why would you want to mess with that smelly, liquid stuff when there’s a granular, organic, slow-release nutrient formula that will pretty much do the same thing for my plants and with half the effort?
The answer, of course, can be found in the results.
A low-odor formula for use indoors and out! Alaska® Fish Fertilizer has been around for years and is one of the best all-purpose nutrients for plants. Rich in organic matter, it breaks down slowly to feed plants — and soil microbes — over time. Great for lawns too!
Now we can’t claim that our good results come specifically from the fish emulsions. Rich, productive gardens result from a number of variables. But even when all those variables aren’t perfect or perfectly balanced, fish fertilizer plays an important role in covering for the elements your garden might lack.
The other good thing: not all fish fertilizers are smelly.
In addition to being thought smelly and messy to use, fish fertilizers are criticized for their low nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium (N-P-K) ratings when compared to chemical solutions or organic, dry fertilizers. They’re also considered expensive.
Let’s start with that last criticism. While a single bottle of fish or seaweed emulsion may seem expensive when compared to dry fertilizers, there’s really not much difference in the long run. In other words, fish fertilizer, properly diluted, goes a long, long way.
This is true even though it’s applied more frequently than dried fertilizers. While one or maybe two applications of a dry blend are recommended during the growing season, we like to apply diluted fish emulsion every couple of weeks along with a watering. This keeps nutrient levels constant and gives better dispersal.
Water first. Then apply the emulsion diluted to the manufacturer’s specifications. Watering first helps wick the fertilizer down into and through the soil.
We’ve been known to go a little light on the emulsion-to-water ratio when applying every two weeks. On the other hand, we’ve been known to add and extra tablespoon when applying to heavy nitrogen feeders like tomatoes.
Who knew that vegetables loved fish? Neptune’s Harvest is a top-selling Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer that uses North Atlantic ocean harvests and gets great results from gardeners. They’re reporting bigger crops, increased sugars and better blooms.
I like to mix the emulsion in a watering can so that I can direct the fertilizer exactly where I want it to go. Some fish emulsions come diluted in spray containers. That’s one potentially messy step avoided.
Pre-diluted fish emulsions tend to be less stinky. These days, you can get odor-free emulsions (smell is related to the freshness of the fish before processing and the type of processing used).
These odor-free emulsions are often made using a “hydrolyzed” process, one that involves natural enzymes breaking down the material, rather than heat. Hydrolyzed emulsions claim to retain more amino acids and deliver both macro and micronutrients in a form more usable to plants and soil microbes.
It’s this availability and the presence of micronutrients that make fish and seaweed emulsions so effective. While chemical concoctions tend to deplete or lockup the soil’s natural occurring micronutrients — copper, boron, iron, zinc and others — fish and seaweed emulsions restore them in form plants can utilize.
The availability of the nutrients in fish fertilizers make them as effective as chemical formulas with high N-P-K ratios. They may not be as saturated with nitrogen or phosphorous as chemical fertilizers, but more of those nutrients are made available to the plant.
Because of this availability, fish and seaweed emulsions are effectively used as foliar sprays. I like to think I accomplish some of this when I hand water.
Find more about liquid plant foods of all sorts at our Gardener’s Guide To Fertilizers.
Eric Vinje founded Planet Natural with his father Wayne in 1991, originally running it as a grasshopper bait mail-order business out of a garage.
Eric is now retired, but is still a renowned gardener known for his expertise in composting, organic gardening and pest control, utilizing pesticide-free options, such as beneficial insects.
Eric believes when you do something good for the environment, the effects will benefit generations to come.
Roots Organics Surge
Combines a powerful fish base with North Atlantic kelp, humic acid and molasses.$21.95Read more
Chock-full of over 60 naturally occurring major and minor plant nutrients.$16.95Read more
Age Old Fish & Seaweed
An effective plant stress reducer and root stimulant that's rich in carbohydrates.$16.95Read more
Norwegian seaweed (kelp extract) is among the highest quality you can buy.$19.95Read more
14 Responses to “Using Fish and Seaweed Fertilizers”
My father is a gardener. I help him sometimes, we go to rich people’s houses and all day long we have to be in the hot sun, kind of treated like dogs, actually worse (because nowadays many people treat their dogs like their kids). Sometimes we have to trim trees, and carry bunch of branches and loads on our backs, and for this reason we get injured at times, sometimes extreme neck pain etc. Many times though, it’s a great feeling you get by cutting grass, watering plants, that’s like the easy part but then there’s other annoying, hard, and tiring, and dangerous things we have to do. So, I don’t like gardening that much, unless it’s my house cause my house just has a lawn and some plants and it’s simple. But what I see is many people in TV make it seem like gardening is Fun, because all they do is work with little plants, plant little flowers or something and that’s it (Example: Good morning America news show Gardening tips lady), when actually gardening is pretty hellish.
Get a grip dude.
Who else would do that hard Work? I bet you are not out there working.
You should be thankful to have a job as a gardener.
Get a life and stick to the topic… You are an alien too since your forefathers immigrated here illegally. so either go drown yourself somewhere or change your attitude.
Geez, can’t even read about a gardening product without having to hear nasty, racist comments from some small-minded people. Such an assumption you make just because the guy doesn’t like gardening. So nasty!
You can always quit the job and look for another job. In the meantime, record any misbehavior that happens to you.
Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life … in other words if gardening is such a burden for you the answer is simple … do something else!
My parents raised me to love everything that grows! I really enjoyed the information on this site! Will be looking and trying to upgrade my knowledge of soil and plants. My garden is my happiest time! It is worth the time and work it takes .Hope to educate myself better. This website is great!
If I grind up fish parts … catfish let’s say and use it in my soil. Will it help?
YES SURE WILL, BUT MOSTLY DEPENDS ON WHAT YOUR PLANTING. ON TOMATOES, I PUT IT DOWN IN LATE FALL OR EARLY SPRING. I DIG A HOLE ABOUT 1 FT ROUND ABOUT 18 DEEP PUT THEM IN THE HOLE ABOUT 4 INCHES DEEP. THEN I ADD SOME CRUSHED UP LEAVES, SOME COFFEE GROUNDS, AND A COUPLE HANDS FULL OF MY TOP OF LINE FERT — RABBIT MANURE. I LET THAT SET FOR AT LEAST 2 MONTHS — WORMS LOVE THE COMBO! MY TOMS GROW GREAT. I JUST GOT AN AWARD FRIDAY OCT 27, PLUS 100 DOLLARS IN A LARGE TOM CONTEST FOR A 2 LB TOM. LAST YEAR WAS 2 ONE HALF LBS. GL HAVE A HAPPY SEASON. NO GREEN THUMB HERE — JUST BROWN KNEES. LOL
I can’t believe the racist comments when just investigating fertilizer.
Use a dictionary and go to R and look up racist. No one said anything about anyone’s race. The goto response to shut down a discussion, though this is not the place for that discussion.
Turn off MSNBC.
How in the world is “Your Dad is most likely an illegal alien and in my opinion so are you even if you were born here” not a racist comment? He simply stated that he didn’t like gardening because of his experiences and you came at him calling him an illegal alien EVEN IF HE WAS BORN HERE. That is textbook racism. Racism and racist sympathizers are disgusting.