Using Fish Emulsion: Learn How And When To Use Fish Emulsion Fertilizer

By: Amy Grant

You probably already know your plants need light, water, andgood soil to thrive, but they also benefit from the addition of fertilizer,ideally organic. There are several organicfertilizers available – one type being fish fertilizer for plants. Thefollowing article contains information on fish emulsion use, including when touse fish emulsion and how to apply it to your plants.

About Fish Emulsion Use

Fishemulsion, or fish fertilizer for plants, is a fast-acting, organic liquidfertilizer made from the byproducts of the fishing industry. It is rich in nitrogen,phosphorusand potassium,plus trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, and sodium.

Benefits to Using Fish Emulsion

Not only is fish fertilizer an organic option, it is madefrom fish parts that would otherwise be wasted. It contains plenty of nutrientsfor quick absorption by plants. Fish fertilizer for plants is a mild,all-purpose feeding option that can be used at any time. It may be used as asoil drench, foliar spray, in the form of fish meal, or addedto the compost pile.

Selecting fish fertilizer is a terrific option for leafygreen veggies due to its high nitrogen content. Fish emulsion use is especiallybeneficial as a lawn fertilizer in the early spring.

How to Apply Fish Emulsion

Do be careful when applying fish fertilizer, however. Toomuch fish emulsion can burn plants and affect their growth. As long as you’recareful, fish fertilizer is a mild fertilizer that, in moderation, can be usedat almost any stage of plant growth.

Fish fertilizer for plants is a concentrated product that isdiluted with water prior to application. Combine ½ ounce (14 g.) of fishemulsion with one gallon (4 L.) of water, then simply water the plants with themixture.

To get the most benefit from using fish fertilizer on yourplants, apply the mixture twice per week. In the spring, apply the diluted fishemulsion to the lawn with a sprayer.

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Read more about Soil, Fixes & Fertilizers

Fish Fertilizer 101: Why and How to Use It

In partnership with Central Garden & Pet By Katie Dillon | Last Updated: January 09, 2020

I’m working with Central Garden and Pet on a sponsored campaign (full disclosure below) about gardening products that I already use. About 3 years ago, I started regularly applying Alaska Fish Fertilizer to my yard on the advice of Barrels and Branches, a fantastic nursery in Encinitas.

My plants were looking sluggish to the point where I was considering a pricey yard overhaul. After one application of fish fertilizer, my ginger plants started flowering again and things started perking up drastically.

Chemical vs. Organic

All fertilizers are described as complete if they contain nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). On fertilizer packaging, these nutrients are listed as the N-P-K ratio. Chemical fertilizers, also called synthetic and inorganic fertilizers, are manufactured to supply these three nutrients. Specialty fertilizers may include other nutrients as well. Organic fertilizers are made from plant or animal products and contain a wider range of nutrients in lower concentrations than commercially available chemical fertilizers.

Fish Fertilizer For Plants – When And How To Apply Fish Emulsion Fertilizer - garden

* Organic nitrogen and phosphorus garden plant food,
* Fish Emulsion for cold early months,
* More readily available organic food for faster growing,

Traditional fish fertilizers - fish emulsion, fish meal and hydrolyzed fish fertilizer - have become more widely available in recent times. Waste fish provides a rich source of nutrients to recycle to your garden plants.

These fertilizers have particular cultural advantages worth considering in an organic garden - see below. For example - nitrogen in the form of partly digested protein is more readily available to plants than it is from some other organic fertilizers.

Fish Fertilizer Sources

Three Fish Fertilizers

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Fish meal: is made from dried fish waste. Oils that become rancid are removed, preservatives are added and the material is spray dried. The nutrient analysis of fish meal is around N : P : K = 10 - 12 : 6 : 2 making it a good choice to use with leafy plants.

The next 2 fish fertilizers have sulphuric and phosphoric acids added to stabilise the material. This makes up some of the fertilizer value - probably less than 1% P in Fish Emulsion.

Fish Emulsion: made from gutted fish waste which is dried to kill micro-organisms.

Nutrient analysis is around N : P : K = 5 : 2 : 2 It is readily soluble and used for folia spraying. This is especially useful in the colder earlier months when manures and slow release organic fertilizers may be breaking down too slowly.

Hydrolyzed Fish: made from whole fish waste which is minced and digested with enzymes. To prevent further degradation this fish 'soup' is acidified with phosphoric acid at a lower ph than fish emulsion. It preserves more micro-nutrients, vitamins and proteins than the emulsion.

The more balanced nutrient analysis is around N : P : K = 4 : 2 : 2.

The Garden Seat - books by experts to help you grow organically

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The Are Many Organic Fertilizers

ALSO on The Organic Gardener:-

My Neighbour's Garden

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Now it’s DIY Fish Fertilizer Time!

I’m going to tell you how to make fish hydrolysate using fermentation as our cold process of choice for many reasons. Chief among them is you need no special commercial enzyme concentrates, no acid stabilizers, and it doesn’t smell bad!

Here is a list of what you will need:

  • 1-part Fish or Fish Scraps
  • Blender or Food Processor
  • Lactobacillus
  • 3-parts Dechlorinated Water
  • ⅓-part Brown Sugar
  • Airtight Plastic Jug
  • Home-Brewing Airlock
  • DIY instructions below

Where does one get fish scraps? Inquire at local fish markets. Naturally, you can also catch your own. Finding lactobacillus is easy. It’s available from your local pharmacy next to the vitamins. Remember – chlorine kills microbes, so be sure you use dechlorinated water or well water. I’ve given the measurements in parts to deal with different sized blenders or food processors, and get the ratio of ingredients right.

Fish based fertilizer products are excellent sources of N-P-K and trace minerals and considered to be some of the most powerful natural fertilizers and soil amendments in the world. Some products blend fish with seaweed or kelp for added nutrition and growth stimulation, They are available in two forms, solid and liquid.


Hydrolyzed Fish Fertilizer

Typical NPK analysis 2-4-1

Hydrolyzed or enzyme digested fish utilizes whole fish and therefore contains the whole spectrum of fish nutrients, retaining more of the proteins, enzymes, growth hormones, vitamins, micro nutrients and oils, best of all it has no unpleasant odor. The cold press process allows the minerals and amino acids to become readily available to plants and makes those nutrients water soluble, so you can use them in foliage spraying or through drip and other irrigation systems.

Because of better processing methods used in making fish based fertilizers, hydrolyzed fish products are considered to be superior to other fish products on the market today. The blending of seaweed or kelp to this product adds the many vitamins, trace elements and growth hormones, all in water soluble form, that are essential to healthy plant growth, making and excellent fertilizer even better.

Fish Emulsion Fertilizer

Typical NPK analysis varies by brand, synthetic nutrients usually added.

Fish emulsion, Infamous for its foul smell, is a soluble fish fertilizer produced as a byproduct of the fish meal manufacturing process. Fish emulsion is heat processed, using high heat & acids, heat tends to denature amino acids in proteins, meaning that a lot of the nutrients and amino acids are either totally destroyed during processing or become unavailable to the plants. Commercial brands contain no fish oil and little or no aerobic bacteria.

Many fish emulsion fertilizers are not OMRI listed because non organic nutrients are added to bring the NPK rating up to desired levels. Homemade versions unless boiled tend to be far superior to the commercial bands of fish emulsions.

The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) provides organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production.

For the gardener, buying any product that has this logo on the label is an indication that the ingredients within the product comply with the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP)

Meal and powder products

Fish Meal

Typical NPK analysis varies by brand.

Fish meal is a by product of the fish processing industry. It is made from whole fish, bones and offal, this is heat dried at a high temperature to remove most of the fish oil and water before being ground into a brown powder. It has a high nitrogen and phosphorus analysis and is a slow to medium releasing source of nitrogen making it a dependable soil builder. For a faster acting, water soluble fish fertilizer, use fish powders or liquid fish based fertilizer.

Fish meal is also a good source for micro nutrients and provides food for beneficial bacteria in the soil, resulting in stronger healthier plant growth. Fish meal is usually applied by working it into the soil around the plants, it is important to water the fish meal after application to assist in the breaking down process.

Fish meal is a better alternative to use in the home vegetable garden or compost heap than fresh fish waste. It is an excellent source of the nitrogen needed to balance your compost heap. However even though it doesn't have an odors anywhere close to that of fresh fish waste it is often enough to attract unwanted visitors, so it is advisable to have your compost heap contained or vermin proofed and to work the meal well into the soil when using it in the veggie garden.

Fish Powders

Typical NPK analysis varies by brand.

Fish powder being more soluble than meal is usually applied as foliage spray. It can also be run through most irrigation systems with good filtration.

However like fish meal and fish emulsions the heat process use in manufacturing fish powders depletes the nutritional value of the final product and this is usually replaced with inorganic nutrients.

Fish powder is fish meals ground to a finer texture making it more water soluble and fast acting.

Fish Bone Meal

Typical NPK analysis varies by brand.

Use fish bone meal as a substitute for regular bone meal. Excellent source of phosphorus and calcium with a small amount of nitrogen.

Watch the video: Using Fish Emulsion To Fertilize The Vegetable Garden.

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