Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
June, 2008
Regional Report

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The liquid fish perked up the nasturtiums in only a few days.

Fish O' My Heart

If you haven't fertilized your garden yet this season, it's time. I used a new liquid fish product on my little garden. It was touted to be "non-stinky." Granted, it didn't smell as bad as the real deal, but it wasn't pleasant. Just after I had wrapped up my hose and was heading back up stairs I overheard someone say, "What stinks?" I confessed that I had just fertilized and that the cause was indeed, me. Unlike old-fashioned liquid fish, the scent did not linger long.

I prefer using liquid fish emulsion over almost any other type of fertilizer, and I have used them all. The slow-release stuff is easy but expensive. The high-nitrogen chemical fertilizers promote lush, rapid growth, but I prefer to stick to the old-fashioned ways. What was good enough for my grandmother is good enough for me. Lush, rapid growth is sometimes a lure to insect pests, and goodness knows, I have enough problems without having to deal with bugs.

I either mix the liquid fish in a watering can and apply it directly to the intended recipient, or use a hose-end sprayer if I am fertilizing a large area. Since my garden is very small, the bucket method usually works just fine. This time I used the hose-end sprayer and was amazed at how much product it took to fertilize the tiny area (my garden is about 300 square feet). The hose-end device used much more than I ever would have applied by hand.

No-Risk Fertilizer
The nice thing about liquid fish is that you can never get in trouble by overfertilizing. The worst that can happen is the neighbors complain about the smell. I have found that sometimes chemical fertilizers will burn foliage or roots, especially if applied on a hot day. If you do choose to use this type of product, make sure to rinse the plants lightly with fresh water after applying the fertilizer. This simple step can prevent the foliage from burning.

The reason I decided to fertilize is because the majority of plants in my garden were looking tired and dusty. I doused them good with the liquid fish, rinsed the plants, and then headed home for the weekend. When I came back on Monday morning, everything looked plump and vibrant. Now, two weeks later, plants are growing like gangbusters. That's the thing with liquid fish, it's not fast-acting like the chemical fertilizers, but given a few weeks, the results are astounding!

I have to say that my little garden thrives on liquid fish. As a matter of fact, my garden likes fish so much that when one of my aquarium fish kicks the bucket, they are interred in the garden ... respectfully, of course.

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