Fish fertilizer works in a number of ways. It feeds the plants and also feeds the soil microbes. Plenty of gardeners swear by it. Thing is it costs a bit in the store to buy. I have used it on plenty of occasions but have never made it myself.
Your own Home Made Fish Fertiliser
What a mess – You have to break a few eggs to bake a cake!
Yesterday I bought a fish. It was a sea mullet and was priced at $2 per kilo. The fish was whole and ended up costing $1.75 so it was under a kilo (2.2 lb).
The process I use produces a fish hydrolysate, or it is supposed to. It takes between 3 and 5 weeks for the process to work. The first time I saw it was around glasshouses owned by Vietnamese farmers. They used to make their own fish fertilizer for their crops. The only way to tell when the process has completed is by the smell. During the process the smell is bad but when it is completed there will be no odour or a faint earthy vinegar smell that is not at all unpleasant.
Ready To Blend
So I had my fish, now I had to mince it up. The more minced up the better. On my previous shopping expedition there was a food blender at Woolies for $29. Just the ticket.
Taking my trusty Silky Pocket Boy I cut the mullet into 50mm chunks and put the lot into the blender. I added about a litre of water. It is better to use filtered water or let the water stand overnight to dissipate the chlorine as chlorine kills microbes. We are using the microbes and enzymes in the gut of the fish to break down the fats and protein in the fish to amino acids and plant available protein, we don’t want to kill them with the water we use. Around 400 grams of raw sugar was added and around 150ml of lactobacillus solution I had left over from a batch I made.
After blending the lot to get it broken down as much as possible, I placed it in one of my trusty 4 litre ice cream containers and stored it in the shed to let the microbes and enzymes do their thing.
Costs so far if I don’t count the blender
Raw Sugar 0.40
After straining the hydrolysate I will have around 1.5 litres of concentrated home made fish fertiliser that will be used at a diluted rate of around 2 tablespoons for 4 litres of water. When you dilute it for soil drenching or foliar spraying make sure you use water that has been left standing for 12 hours so that the chlorine can evaporate off.
I will update this when it has completed the process.
As mentioned on the Chipper/Mulcher review page it is easy to remove the chipper blade from the chipper/mulcher. It is not as easy to sharpen it though, as it is made from HSS (high speed steel) which is hardened for the purpose it is used for.
Removing the blade
I tipped the machine up and rested it on the tow bar and placed a large piece of wood under the front so that it would stay in position.
Chipper blade viewed through Access Hatch, showing Allen screws and key
The chute cover was removed and the chipper blade access cover was removed. This allowed access to the nylon threadlock nuts and the Allen screws holding the blade on.
After removing the blade I could see that it was blunt and had some nicks in the blade. The blade has two cutting faces. By turning the blade 180 degrees you get to use the second face for cutting. I had previously turned the blade. It was now time to sharpen it.
The lock nuts are accessible after the chute and screen are removed
This was to be done with a file and stone. I don’t have power in the shed yet. It took quite a while to make an impression on the cutting face and to partly remove the nicks in the blade. The good thing was that it gave me some practice on getting the filing angle correct and some practice using a sharpening stone.
Next time I will take it to a mate’s mower shop and get him to sharpen it for me.
I was able to finish the job I wanted to do with the chipper. Thankfully I had sharpened it enough for that.
After mentioning hugulculture in the worm post, I thought that I should see how and if it works.
When I started the gardens, I didn’t realize that I was starting in the lowest part of the yard. I have since been enlightened as it has rained consistently since February and the yard has been inundated on a number of occassions.
This area is sodden.
Making a raised bed will help
I chose the bed that is always wet to try the hugulculture experiment. In winter this section doesn’t get any sun because of a 2 metre fence on the northern side.
I dug out the bed to a depth of 25cm (10″). The first layer was branches, sticks and timber from around the property. I then got out the Chipper and used it to chip and shred all the prunings I had done recently. These went straight into the bed and brought it up to the previous ground level.
The wood is covered with woodchips and pruning mulch
The idea of the hugulculture is to use the timber, wood and mulch as a storage for water and to alleviate the pressure for constant watering during dry spells. There was no problem getting water to the wood going into this garden bed as it was saturated.
You can make out that the bottom of the bed in one of the pictures. It contained water. This was good and bad. It made it relatively easy to dig out the soil, but the “soil” was waterlogged and part clay so it was impossible to work into a friable garden bed.
Filled to Ground Level
I was surprised to see a number of earth worms, as the first time I dug this bed I didn’t see a worm. I guess the combination of high moisture content, the compost I had applied and the growing of the mung beans as a cover crop has attracted them. The mung beans had succumbed to the excessive rainfall and being covered with water on three occasions.
The earth removed from the hole the wood, woodchips and mulch was placed in was returned to the garden bed on top. This made a garden bed about 25cm (10″) above the existing ground level.
Have you noticed that worms will always be found after the rain?
Have you also noticed that if you have some organic matter lying around in the backyard that after a while, if you decide to move it, there is always worm activity at ground level?
And if you go and dig in the garden, you can’t find a worm?
What do you deduct from that Dr. Watson?
Worms love moisture, worms love organic matter. Worms also love a place to hide or disappear to quickly.
Worms don’t like sunlight.
So taking those deductions, why would you go and spend $100 or so to buy a worm farm from your local hardware store?
Would’t it be better to create an environment closer to what a worm has in the wild?
I use a variation of what is called hugulculture(rotted wood in raised beds). I have some round cardboard cylinders that I placed on plastic sheeting. The plastic is being used as a solariser to get rid of couch grass that is throughout the place. It will be in the one place for over 12 months to ensure that the couch has been really killed.
Starting more worm farms
In the bottom of the cylinders I placed some small branches and sticks. Next was some grass clippings and foliage that had been composting. Next was the contents of styrofoam boxes that I had been using as worm farms while waiting to move to this place.
It has been raining quite heavily here in Brisbane since February. Winter is the dry season but it is still raining. The cylinders have been great. They are like a raised garden bed. No matter how much it rains it has not affected the worms. They haven’t drowned even though we have had excessive rain and some parts of the yard have been underwater.
Originally I purchased around $30 worth of worms from an old bloke around the road from me. He didn’t go to the trouble of counting them, just reckoned that I had many more than a thousand worms in the styrofoam box. I took his word for it and haven’t bought a worm since. They have continued to multiply and I now have six of the cardboard cylinders containing worms. Some of them are half full with worms and organic matter and the rest are full.
More Worm Farms Some With Potatoes
I use the worms and castings when I grow seeds. I half fill a styrofoam box with some of the material in my worm beds (cardboard cylinders), some soil and some of the compost I have been nurturing. After seeding and wetting with the watering can, I place a sheet of glass on top and leave in a sunny position. When the seeds have sprouted and grown to a reasonable size, I transplant to the garden.
They Have NO Ethics
I’m not talking about politicians, I’m talking about food manufacturers. They use marketing to entice you to buy their products and try to find waste products from manufacturing and chemical production to replace natural products in their manufacturing process to increase their bottom line.
Sounds like a conspiracy theory doesn’t it. No I am no a nutter but I have seen a number of things that big business has touted as good for you when it is clearly not.
How about cigarettes?
What about margarine and partial hydrogenation that creates trans fats?
What about stevia? https://farm54.com/stevia-the-low-kj-natural-sweetener-they-banned
What about alcohol?
And what about food colouring, stabilizers and preservatives in food?
They won’t even label their stuff so that you know which country it was grown in or whether it is from a GM’d crop.
Solve the problem
So what is the solution? Get a hobby and grow some vegetables. You can grow them cheaper than you can buy them and if you learn a few tips and ideas, you don’t have to leave your wallet at the nursery. You can fertilize vegetables very easily with compost and worm castings. There are simple and effective organic and home remedies for plant pests and disease.
At the same time as learning how to grow vegetables you will contribute to your own health improvement and that of your family. Your fitness level will improve too, as you will be getting good exercise.