Fertilizer core

I have a friend in the Department of Natural Resources who hooked me up with the ultimate sustainable fertilizer:

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A particularly nasty invasive species, the Blueback Catfish is so good at killing off native species that the DNR periodically has to round them up and cull their numbers as best they can. Normally they’re just thrown away, but I requested “a few” and ended up with a brimming 60 gallon rubbermaid tub of disgustingness eco-friendly soil enrichment.

I took all the smallest ones and dipped them in woodash as if I were breading them with cornmeal, then wrapped them in little packets made of phone book pages and froze three grocery sacks’ worth. Each of these is going to be planted individually underneath a “hungry” seedling: tomatoes and corn for example. Or at least that was the plan. I may have gotten a bit generous and started giving them to all my cabbages and cole crops (hey, they like nitrogen too right?) and I only have one grocery sack left that I am hoarding for the summer crops. Melons and pumpkins and squash, oh my.

Of course before doing any of that I had to cut them right in half. Their front and dorsal fins have nasty barbed spines on them laced with neurotoxins. Wouldn’t want to accidentally prick yourself on that spindle, for sure. So basically, even more grossness, guts everywhere, extra stink. Ugh. My chicken shears got quite the workout that day.

I still had enough left to dig a 2-spades-deep trench down the middle of two 30-foot-beds and fill the bottoms with necklaces of dead, stinking fish. I sprinkled my remaining ashes on the fish, then piled in heaps of shredded leaves (in the hopes that they might help mask the smell from curious digging raccoons) and replaced the soil on top. I managed to do all the outdoor work in a single day – it was 80* that day and I had no wish to store a rubbermaid tub full of three-day-old fish in my garage. I was quite motivated, you might say. I finished up after dark, but I did get all the fish in the ground with not a thing wasted.

So I don’t know if I’ll have enough fish to do my plan of one small one under each seedling. I’m already feeling greedy for more – but holy crap that job is something I hope to never ever have to do more than once a year. Probably one of the most disgusting things I’ve done, and that’s saying a lot.

BUT! I’m so excited to see if it makes a difference in the plants’ growth this year. I think one of my chronic problems has been underfertilization, and perhaps this will provide that extra boost. I dream of cabbages bigger than watermelons.

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