Organic Fertilizers: Exploring Unconventional Sources

Are you looking for sustainable and eco-friendly options to fertilize your garden? Organic-based fertilizers have been gaining popularity, and for a good reason. They provide nutrients to your plants while minimizing harm to the environment. But have you ever wondered where these organic fertilizers come from?

Unveiling the Unconventional

According to Chris Enroth, a horticulture educator at the University of Illinois Extension, the demand for organic-based fertilizers has given rise to unique and unconventional sources. Rather than manufacturing them from scratch, some organic fertilizers are derived as byproducts from other industries.

For instance, corn gluten meal, a popular organic fertilizer, is a byproduct of the corn milling industry. Another example is Milorganite, a hybridized trade name for an organic fertilizer made from biosolids derived from treated sewer sludge. Yes, you read that right! Milorganite is produced using biosolids from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

Fishy Business

One of the most intriguing unconventional organic fertilizers is fish emulsion. It might sound bizarre, but fish emulsion is actually the leftover liquid from the fish meal and fish oil industry. If you’ve ever seen the famous Saturday Night Live skit featuring Dan Aykroyd and his “Super Bass-o-Matic ’76,” you can imagine the process.

Fish emulsion offers nutrients to plants, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as essential micronutrients. Some claim that soaking seeds or using it as a foliar spray can enhance plant growth, but studies have shown otherwise for certain crops.

A Fragrant Dilemma

While fish emulsion can be an effective fertilizer, there’s one rather smelly downside: the odor. When you open a bottle of liquid fish emulsion, you’ll immediately notice the distinct aroma of blended fish. It’s not the most pleasant scent, especially indoors.

Further reading:  Fertilizer vs. Manure: Which One Should You Choose for Your Garden?

Chris Enroth advises against using fish emulsion on houseplants, as the odor can linger and be quite overpowering. In fact, he learned this the hard way and ended up banishing his plants outside after playing a game of “Find the Smell!” However, when used outdoors, the odor becomes negligible.

The Curious Case of Mischievous Raccoons

Here’s an interesting tidbit: there seems to be a connection between fish emulsion fertilizer and mischievous raccoons. Some gardeners have reported raccoons digging in their pots after using fish emulsion. While this isn’t established research, it’s worth noting that raccoons have taken a keen interest in containers with a fishy secret.

So, if you decide to give fish emulsion a try, be prepared for the possibility of curious critters paying a visit to your garden.

Organic-based fertilizers like fish emulsion offer not only nutrients for your plants but also contribute to building a healthier soil ecosystem. These unconventional sources provide an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fertilizers.

Next time you’re looking for organic fertilizers, consider exploring these unique options that promote sustainability while nourishing your garden.


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