21 November 2013

Adding Fish Fertilizer

Even though we know it's totally disgusting (this isn't a bottle to open and smell just for fun), maybe it's inevitable that a family of Alaskan fishermen would resort to Alaska Fish Fertilizer to give our garden plants a boost while we wait for our compost pile to get rich enough to spread all over the garden.

The basil plants are growing more now, and I'd say we're up to three that look bigger than they did before, with the rest looking a little greener than they did before.  It's progress.  But we still felt like they--along with the tomato plants, peppers, and one remaining tomatillo, needed an extra boost.

These photos simply serve as the "before".  I'm hoping next week I'll be able to show you what they all look like after the fish plant food has had a chance to soak in a little.

The basil plant that has been healthy all along is about four inches tall now.  You can see that it has some splotchy yellow spots on the leaves, though, just like the tomato and pepper plants do.  My husband searched carefully for the most complete organic fertilizer so that we wouldn't be discovering and fixing one nutrient deficiency only to run to the store again to figure out a solution to the next one.  We're keeping molasses and Epsom salts in our repertoire, but we wanted our next thing to be a little more complete.

We looked at several options, and I'll just tell you we weren't impressed with the product designed to add iron to the soil....but that also contained lead, mercury, arsenic and other toxic chemicals.  We're glad we read the labels!  Actually, we're glad HE read the labels.  I would have grabbed something and run home in my efficient little mode of operation.  And then my {edible} plants would have been eating lead for breakfast.  Yikes.

The fish stuff may smell bad, but at least it's more complete and safe than a toxic product designed for one nutrient deficiency.  I'm more ready to cheer for the organic movement all the time.  Even though I don't buy that way in the grocery store very well...I ignore the facts and try to stay in budget.  That's a different story, except that maybe it's another reason why I'm glad we have even a small garden to work with.

This morning I was visiting all the plants like I do every morning, and praying at the same time.  As I looked down at this little pepper plant, I realized what a miracle everything in the garden really is.  

Before, I was upset that any of the plants were being eaten by bugs at all.  Then I realized how sad Adam and Eve must have been to see the first plants die, knowing it was their fault, only to have the greater pain later of one son murdering the other.  Our world has just gotten worse since then, and we're calloused to the "small things" like plants dying when we're surrounded by so much that's worse.  

Our gardens still suffer from the curse given to Adam--that he would have to labor harder for the food he would eat, and that thorns would be his constant garden and farmyard enemies.  Maybe it was to remind him tangibly not to get too comfortable with this world, and keep him looking forward to the promised day when the Promised Seed (Jesus) would get rid of the curses of sin.

Those thoughts have all been in the back of my mind over the last several weeks as we've researched and tried to do the best thing for our plants with Neem Oil and now the fish fertilizer.  This morning, I saw it tangibly beginning to work.  The little leaves on this pepper plant are growing on a stalk that not long ago was eaten completely empty of leaves, yet it's putting out a fresh start.

It got me thinking about what the Gardener who first planted Eden can do with a human life, no matter how hard it gets plagued and no matter how empty of any outward sign of life it may become.

So did this little tomatillo plant.  It's the one that had its stem nearly destroyed three times, only to have us pile more soil around it in an effort to save its life.  And you know what?  It looks a little more yellow now, but it's beginning to seem firmly rooted, and it has not been eaten through the fourth time.

If my husband hadn't been so bent on saving it, I would have given up on it long ago, and we would have missed out on the miracle of how hard it's hanging on.  Now with the fertilizer, I really think it has a chance.

That got me thinking about people too, and how again God can take a life that looks like it's on its last spiritual leg, and completely revive it and get it to start growing again.

It made me glad, actually, that our gardening this fall hadn't been perfectly smooth and pest free, because now I have this object lesson right in front of me.  It's like He wanted me remember to treat myself and the people around me with the redemptive grace He offers to all.  There may be bad bugs trying to destroy by night, but God's mercies are still new every morning.

Here are the two best looking tomato plants.  We still have a few others growing slowly but surely, but these are the ones that get the most sun.  They're also the same variety, so we'll watch over the long term to see if the other varieties just have trouble in our climate, or if the place we planted them wasn't the most ideal.

We originally planted twelve tomato plants.  Part of the time, I wish all twelve had lived and grown to this size already.  Yet at the same time, I'm grateful I didn't lose all twelve, grateful several are still making the efforts to grow, grateful these two are almost up to my knee and beginning to flower.  Grateful for what I still have, instead of losing the joy of what's here while I focus on what isn't.  Grateful for the miracle we simply call growth.


  1. This is a beautiful beautiful post and the object lesson is so meaningful!

    I think I've kind of given up on gardening for the time being. I really don't have the patience, the determination and the persistence that you guys have. Sigh... and, most importantly, I don't have any room, really. That tiny little bed that cost us close to 300 dollars can only fit a handful of plants (I tried growing 13 tomato plants in there plus 5 basils -- a couple of tomato seedlings died right away and only about 7 were relatively big and healthy.

    I bought this organic fertilizer, BUT it's made of bones! I was just thinking to myself... well... it's impossible to be really truly vegan, I guess because there are nutrients that are only obtained when living beings die and decompose. Maybe with a really very carefully tended compost one can be truly obtaining all nutrients from vegetable sources, but is that really possible? Sigh...

    It was kind of an object lesson for me too, but it had a weird taste... like in this world of sin living things MUST DIE so others can live, you know. I was slightly depressed at the thought. I think you'll understand.

    I love the photos, keep sharing!

    P.S. did your brother or your mother take more photos of the garden after you left? I'd love to see those. I imagine you must feel kind of sad looking at them...

  2. Makes me want to go visit your warm climate!


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