Homemade Fish Fertilizer

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Fish fertilizer is an awesome product for promoting plant growth. It’s high in Nitrogen for growing plants, can be naturally produced, and is an awesome food for microbes! Fungi love this stuff. Fish fertilizer can be expensive in the store, but it is easily produced at home. This is a great recipe for making your own fish hydrolysate fertilizer. First lets look at the two main types of fish fertilizer:

Fish Emulsion

Fish emulsion fertilizer is made several different ways depending on who is making it. The important thing to know is that fish emulsion goes through two stages of processing. The first stage breaks down the fish parts using enzymes, proteases, or chemicals. Then, and this is the important part, heat is used to break it down further and allow oils and other things like amino acids to be more easily removed. It’s this second stage of processing that makes fish emulsion less advantageous than fish hydrolysate. Fish emulsion fertilizer lacks many oils and proteins that fish hydrolysate fertilizer has in abundance. So let’s look at that!

Fish Hydrolysate

Fish hydrolysate fertilizer generally starts out the same way as fish emulsion. It gets broken down using enzymes, proteases, or chemicals. However, fish hydryolysate doesn’t undergo the heating and skimming process that you get with the fish emulsion. The higher quality fish hydrolysates only undergo “cold-processing” which just means they are never heated enough to break down significant amino acid chains. Good fish hydrolysate also retains the fats and oils that microbes love!

Our Fish Fertilizer Recipe

This method of making fish fertilizer is awesome because it is a cold process, chemical-free, completely organic way to make fish fertilizer right at home. While fish emulsion lacks beneficial ingredients vital to the final product, this fish hydrolysate recipe preserves all those active ingredients. You don’t want to miss out on those oils that microbes love. Try this recipe in the yard or in a raised bed garden (If you are a novice gardener you can view videos online to learn how to plant a raised bed garden)


How to make your own fish fertilizer:

  1. Buy a fish.
  2. TIP: Any kind of fish will work.  In fact, you might as well use trash fish, or fish discards like fish heads, guts, etc.  I like to use whole fishes though as I think that makes for a better product.

  3. Now, ideally you would throw the fish into a blender to mash it up into little pieces.  I cut my fish into 8ths or so and then chuck it into my kitchen blender but I’m a bit of a caveman.  If you’re squeamish, buy a separate blender for this, just make sure it is powerful enough, mine is 500W and works fine for small-medium size fishes.  Remember, the finer the fish bits, the more effective the fermentation.
  4. Add water.  You can use a simple guide of 3:1 – 3 parts water to 1 part ferment material.  1 roughly 8in tilapia comes to about 500mL when ground up, so I add about 1500mL water.
  5. TIP: ALWAYS USE NON-CHLORINATED WATER.  Chlorine kills microbes.  Simply let your chlorinated tap water sit for several hours, allowing the chlorine to dissipate.  I let it sit overnight generally.

  6. If you are using a blender, blend up the mixture.  The water helps keep it loose so it blends much better after you add the water.
  7. Add lacto bacilli to blended fish mixture.  I use 2tbsp per L.  You can use more or less if you want.  2tbsp/L is plenty though. See our lactobacillus recipe for proper preparation and dilution of your lacto serum.
  8. Add 1/3 parts sugar.  This should be 1/3 the amount of fish you’ve added.  Sugar will be either molasses or normal cane sugar.
  9. TIP:  Try not to use cane sugar since it is chemically bleached.  Raw(unrefined) sugar like muscovado is best.  In the Philippines we use molasses because it is cheap, but any glucose source works – syrup, honey, etc.  Just use whatever is cheap.  Glucose gives microbes energy.  Whatever you have access to cheaply, go for it.

  10. If using sugar, the equivalency is about 1KG sugar = 1L solution.  So if you have 500mL like my tilapia, you want 1/3 of that in sugar.  You’d use about 167g sugar, or roughly ¾ cup.
  11. I blend the whole mixture up a bit.  It’s good to have it as fine as possible.
  12. Up to you how much you blend it, I blend until I don’t hear so many bones crunching in the blades of the blender.
  13. Now you have liquefied fish, sugar, and lacto.  Pour this mixture into a container.  Loosely cover the container.  No need to seal, because the container will explode as CO2 is released by fermentation.  You just want to make sure other things don’t get into it.  I use a container with a lid and loosely screw the cap on top (just make sure you don’t seal it because it WILL explode).
  14. The process takes anywhere from 3 weeks to over a month.  How do you know its finished?  By the smell.
  15. You know when it’s done when there is no smell anymore.  During fermentation there is a nasty smell, but once completed, there will be almost no odor.  You can open it, and put your nose right up to it.  Take a whiff.  Nothing but a faint vinegar smell.  Now you know its done.  Congratulations!  You’ve made your own Fish Hydrolysate!
  16. Now, usually I transfer it to a smaller container, usually just a smaller water bottle, just for convenience.  At this time, I use a strainer and a funnel to strain the bones and scales out of the hydrolysate.  But don’t expect a lot.  From a whole 8-10in tilapia, you will only get a little tiny pile of bones/scales.  They will feel kind of rubbery, not brittle.  Throw these in the compost pile or garden, they are excellent fertilizer and microbe food, already inoculated with microbes!
  17. Leave the cap on the strained concoction loose until you see no more little bubbles forming.  Then cap it and store it for use as your own natural fertilizer.


How to use this fish fertilizer:

Mix 2tbsp/gal for applications.

 Plants

  • Use as a soil drench as opposed to foliar spray.
  • Inoculate compost to boost fungal population.  This is huge – major growth booster of fungus.
  • Use in compost teas to boost fungal growth, add Nitrogen.  Use at ¼ strength for this application(1/2 tbsp per gal).
  • Mix in water when watering plants, as a natural fish fertilizer and to enhance populations of micro-organisms in the soil

Animals

  • Mix with water for an effective protein/lacto boost for your animals.  Some will really love the added flavor.  Others will hate it.
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  • Zach

    Been looking for a fish hydrolysate recipe for a little while now, just found this one and noticed the new(ish) blog.

    Big fan of Gil Carandang’s work, I’ve got a lactobacillus rice wash sitting right now, and also a couple of FPEs (alfalfa and kelp, banana peel and cantaloupe rind). Stuff works wonders and saves a lot of money.

  • Patrick

    Thanks for posting Zach! Glad to see you are a fan of Gil’s work. Pretty cool you make your own FPE’s (Fermented Plant Extracts for those just learning). What other recipes do you use?

    This is a brand new site, we’re working to get all Gil’s stuff online and start a little community around it. Exciting! There will be a ton of good info up on here soon including new techniques, other topics like natural composting, a blog, etc..

  • Zach

    I’m pretty much just using the kelp & alfalfa FPE and the banana & cantaloupe as well. I would like to try Gil’s BSP FPE (banana, squash, and papaya) but as I live in the midwest of the US, green papaya is not exactly readily available to me.

    And for the record, I can’t wait to finish my lactobacillus serum. My kelp and alfalfa FPE is starting to smell like an open sewer. That’s the only drawback to FPE, in my opinion. But the smell is worth the results, and it’s always interesting to find new things to make FPE out of. Personally, I would like to grow comfrey this year, and perhaps nettle. I hear they’re both awesome in FPEs.

    • Patrick

      Cool, why cantaloupe? For the potassium? So your kelp/alf is for grow, banana/cant for blooming? Like you said Comfrey is awesome to use in there as well; also, sources of potassium and beta-carotene(emphasized in the natural method) like carrots, squash, pumpkin, these are all good candidates for your bloom recipe. Gil emphasizes the potassium synergized with beta-carotene approach. I also add high-phosphorus plants to that, like rice/oat bran, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, legumes, you get the idea. I’ll be adding Gil’s BSP recipe (HerbaBloom) to the site later this week, it discusses this stuff also.

      Yeah, that lacto is awesome, super useful in all kinds of applications, especially here in Asia where the humidity makes stuff smell quickly. Use the lacto on your FPE that should help, haha. Fun stuff…

      • Zach

        Yeah, cantaloupe for potassium, along with the banana. I didn’t know beta-carotene worked with potassium, I’ll have to add carrot to my banana and cantaloupe FPE. I also have some oat bran and sunflower seeds, as well.

      • Zak

        When exactly should one add lacto to fpe? and how much?

  • Man Manly

    ” Almost complete protein solubilisation (75 g soluble protein per kg hydrolysis solution) could be achieved within an hour, at 40 C, at 1% enzyme/substrate ratio (w/w) with papain and bromelain.” from scirp.org

    basically using bromelain and papain (easily available at walgreens or gnc) you can hydrolize fish fast. there was no mention of smell factor. thought this might be useful knowledge!

    • Henry

      MM or Patrick,

      How exactly do you use bromelain and papain. Pill form? Powder? Amount. Today I just made a batch (6 pounds of menhaden pogies) and I would love to know how to reduce the time.

      Thank you!

      • Patrick

        Hey Henry,

        Gooooood question, I will follow this up with Gil. I’m pretty sure I talked to him about it after manly man manly posted, and he said “yeah that’s another way to break them down but I like the straight fermentation better” or something like that. We talked about it a bit though, here in the Philippines we use straight up papaya, haha. It’s all over the place here :). The stem right above the fruit has the greatest concentration, you scrape it to cause a little wound and then collect the ‘sap’ that oozes out. I’m not sure what concentration they mix the sap with the material to be broken down, sorry I know that’s the root of your question. I’ll ask Gil and see if he knows that ratio.

  • Man Manly

    totally messed up the hyperlink but i think yall will survive with out the title.just click the link if you want

    • Patrick

      Man,

      Thanks for the info Man, great article! Really interesting experiment, I’m curious how using proteases for fish hydrolysation compares to microbial processes like L. bacilli.

      While they were able to achieve almost complete protein solubilisation quite quickly, that is making all the protein water soluble, the degree of hydrolysation was 8-16%. I wonder how this DH compares to the microbial method. Anyway I’d like to treat my next batch with papain before doing microbial digestion, that looks awesome. 1 hour! Easy enough.

      I’ll ask Gil about this stuff, I know he’s mentioned using papain before, I’m sure he’d have something to contribute. Thanks for posting.

      • Henry

        Patrick,

        Have you followed up at all using Papain? I just purchased some and I really would appreciate any input from you or anyone familiar as to how to use it (how much? when to add etc.)

        Many thanks!

        • Patrick

          Hey Henry sorry for the late reply, I emailed you and Gil directly to address this. I have some ideas but let’s see his input, he has a ton more experience than I do obviously.

  • Big Ray

    I always thought fish fertilizer had to smell like a dead cow! Makes perfect sense that the odor would improve after complete fermentation takes place. And, I always figured I’d have to make very large quantities of this each time. Diluting it at the rates you suggest, a five gallon bucket or two will last me a good long while.

    How long will this keep?

    Can I use the small airlocks like they use in the brewing hobby and screw the lid down tight to keep rug-rats (grandchildren) out of the stuff?

    • Patrick

      Ya, that is the beauty of this method, there is really zero smell after it completes. When you put your nose right up to the bottle, there is a faint vinegar smell, but really, its almost scentless, its amazing considering the contents, ha.

      After fermenting is complete it will keep for ages, it’s very stable then. I’ve never had one go bad, I’m not sure how that would happen.

      For sure you can use an airlock, that would be ideal actually since it would keep the contents more anaerobic than just having a lid slightly cracked.

  • David

    I’m curious about trying this with other meats than fish because chicken, pork, and beef are much more available than fish where I live. I raise poultry, some for meat and others for eggs, and it seems like this is the perfect solution for using all of the entrails and parts that get discarded when butchering the animals. Could cooked table scraps be included to make hydrolysate or does it need to be raw meat, high in natural fats?

    • Patrick

      That is an awesome question David I’m glad you asked. Any meat can be used as a makeshift ‘fish fertilizer’. Raw meat is best since cooking denatures proteins and fats and such. But yes, any animals will work, in fact last time I was at Gil’s he had a barrel of chickens fermenting. We use fish to make fish fertilizer since the fish oil is a superb source of nutrients(and the Philippines is a nation of 7,107 islands so you know, easy to find ha), but other animals are fine! Best if you can throw everything together and grind it up before fermenting, you’ll get more calcium out of the bones and better overall decomposition. We will publish Gil’s recipe for feather meal also, so you can turn those chicken feathers into fertilizer!

      • David

        Thanks for the suggestions. I’m going to try this soon since I just finished a batch of lactobacillus serum. I’m not so sure about grinding up the chicken bones, but I have a old blender so I’ll give it a shot after chopping them up with a chef’s knife first. BTW, I would love to read your feather meal recipe too!

        • Patrick

          You know what you might try? Chop them up and separate them, blend all the soft bits(since I’m not sure a normal blender would handle chicken bone), then add the chopped bone back in and ferment everything. Let it finish fermenting, then throw it in the blender. The bones should be easier to blend then. Let the soil break down the bone bits that make it through the strainer.

          • David

            The motor of my old blender burned out after trying to blend up the meat and feathers, so I tried to just chop up the meat as small as possible and left the bones pretty much as is. Being able to blend up the meat early on makes a big difference in how quickly the lactobacillus is able to break it down. It has been over a month and there is still a lot of the meat and bones that are left. I decided to pour off the liquid and dump the partially decomposed meat into my outdoor compost bin. (I dug the compost away and buried the meat and bones under two feet of composting material.) Normally I wouldn’t put meat into a compost bin because of a local problem with raccoons and skunks, but over the last several days that haven’t dug through the compost bin to mess with it.

            I added a couple handfuls of rock dust and some EM to the liquid solution to hopefully help the bacteria break down any remaining meat bits. I don’t know if this is a good idea to add extra amendments like this or not. Would a little molasses make a difference in the potency of the fertilizer or the shelf life? (This is all new to me)

          • Patrick

            Hey David,

            Great stuff here, glad you are playing around with the recipe. It’s true it breaks down much better when it’s blended. But after being inoculated it will break down in your compost pile extremely fast. I bet if you dig it up in a few days there won’t be much left down there. Also it shouldn’t smell as much if inoculated with lactobacillus, that should help keep the critters away.

            Adding things to the recipe… I don’t think it would hurt, especially the EM. You might consider how it will after the pH, if it neutralizes the solution that will be bad for lactobacillus I think. The thing with alterations is, you don’t want conditions to change such that the lacto get dominated by a pathogenic bacteria. Keeping the environment acidic and anaerobic goes a long way towards this goal.

            When would you add the molasses? In the beginning of the recipe we call for adding a sugar source like molasses to start fermentation. If you add more, it will ferment more. You can add more molasses no problem but you will probably end up with a “stronger” solution – ie more acidic – so be aware of that (dilute more).

            Hope that all helps. Let us know how it goes!

            Patrick

      • David

        Any luck on that feather meal recipe? I did a little research about feather meal and found it to be very high in nitrogen, but because of the dense structure it is a slower release than standard chemical fertilizers. Feather meal is a common ingredient in many organic fertilizer blends because of these properties.

        • Patrick

          I’m working on it. Feathers are high in Nitrogen but it is very tightly bound due to the molecular structure of the feather. Breaking those bonds requires high heat and pressure. In natural farming we use fermentation and heat to break the bonds, I know Gil has a recipe he uses but haven’t heard back from him yet, he’s very busy these days with a tv program he’s involved in. Spreading the natural farming word in the Philippines. I’ll post it on here when I get it.

    • Dan Krider

      i see korean natural farming methods endorse koh which is a snail, used to make and koh amino acids. which brings me to another critter widely avaible here in north america and other such moist climates the pesky slug that eats our cropsa could be harvested and fermented to make slug amino acid fertilizer. that is the beauty of what KNF and gil promote for natuaral farming methods.

      • Patrick

        Yes! That’s true Dan. You know you can ferment anything with muscle to make an amino acid fertilizer. I’ve even seen people here fermenting rats and chickens. Thanks for sharing the info – look forward to seeing someone’s slug fertilizer!

  • Sol

    Hello. This is a great site. Thank you.

    I’m interested in making fish fertilizer but I don’t want my house to stink during the process. How far does the smell go? If I were to do it outside would my neighbors notice? If so, could I put the ferment into some sort of porous container and bury it in the ground for a few weeks?

    Thanks.

    • Patrick

      Hi Sol,

      Thanks for the support, we’re happy to publish this info as we think it is pretty good stuff too. I think you would be fine fermenting it outside without your neighbors noticing. If you have a one-way valve or airlock I don’t think you would even notice the smell out there. If you seal it, you’ll need to crack it each day to let out the built up gases. When you do that it just smells like someone passed really bad gas. I still don’t think your neighbors would notice, and that would only be once/day. Once fermentation is completed, there will be no smell, so no need to worry then.

      I don’t think you need to worry. Have fun! Let us know how it goes..

      Cheers,
      Patrick

    • Geralyn_D

      I ferment weeds in buckets and found the smell like a dairy farm! My heart is in the right spot but you do get used to ferments pretty quick and don’t realize how far a warm summer breeze can spread it!!! I learned I wasn’t being very neighborly! I had crushed charcoal for the compost pile handy and covered the bucket with an inch or so and it quieted down the complaints nicely. Crushed charcoal and later I found sawdust works too, so anything fine enough to block the odor but still allows the ferment to go on is good. Another tip: if you get the fermented goo and it’s pungent odor on your hands it will come off very slowly but if you use a stainless steel knife handle and suds to rub them over the smell removes right away! Something about stainless steel, I have seen bars of it shaped like soap for sale! Happy fermenting…

      • Patrick

        Thanks Geralyn!

  • Sol

    Patrick,

    That’s great news that it’s easy to contain the smell. I love fermenting foods (milk to yogurt, sauerkraut, nut cheese) and I see what you and Gil are doing as a next step for me. Even though your focus isn’t on adding good bugs into one’s diet you are providing the means for those who are curious and brave.

    I have jars with water locks that I use to keep things from exploding (one explosion was enough) so I’ll use one of those for the frothy fish experiment.

    Thanks for your support.

    Sol

    • Patrick

      Hey Sol,

      That’s interesting you mentioned adding these to your diet, I’ve often thought this fermented fish fertilizer would be a great dietary supplement. It has fish oil, great amino acids and micronutrients, etc. The lactobacillus bacteria keep harmful bacteria out so there’s no reason you couldn’t. It’s no different than the fermented shrimp paste that is commonly eaten here in the Philippines.

      I just read an article the other day from someone who consumes BIM daily. That’s another interesting one. He swears by it. Personally I just use this stuff on my plants, but there are some brave ones out there! Good luck!

      Patrick

      • Sol

        Patrick,

        I culture my own yogurt. Can I strain out some whey and use it for the lacto bacilli?

        Also, would you please point me to the article about the person who consumes BIM daily?

        Thanks.

        Sol

        • Patrick

          Hmm I think you could, I don’t see why not. It’s chalk full of lactobacillus I’m sure. Try stabilizing it with sugar and see how it preserves. You can always add it to a jug of milk and then harvest that after it ferments too.

          Ok lets see where’s that article… Ah here it is! Phew that was tough to find, I do a lot of reading on random sites, you know how it goes.. In the article he mentioned a few times he drinks the EM (Effective Microorganisms) regularly. EM is a form of BIM, they target specific microbes though and have commercialized it. Some people here in the Philippines drink the BIM Gil makes, although I haven’t and I don’t think Gil does. We both drink the lacto serum regularly, that stuff is awesome for digestion and energy.

  • george

    Hello,

    I in New Zealand. Heard about Gil’s methods from Hawaii Natural Farming. New to growing anything. just started a fpe with bears breeches. A friend calls me and says she is distraught over these weeds, that are taking over the garden. These “ungodly” large leafed plants have suddenly shown up. I went over to see them and man they are huge. Called Bears Breeches, these plants are extremely invasive and take a tremendous amount of toxicity to kill them. They are drought resistant. The flowers as well are like huge snapdragons!! Anyway I had told her of natural farming methods before, but reminded her again and convinced her to move the garden and use the Breeches for a fpe. She was wrapped. It’s actually going to be my first fpe. Funny huh? Anyway have made lacto and bsp solution but really haven’t done a lot with them. Still fighting my programming. Thanks for this site. I will start my natural farming journey and let you know what I find. Thanks again

    • Patrick

      Hey George,

      Goodday from the Philippines! You know I lived in New Zealand for 4 months back in 2006 and have to say, that is one awesome country you have there. Great people, great countryside and great plants! It’s like being back in the Jurassic period with all those monster ferns.

      Anyway, that is a great idea you have using the bears breeches for an fpe. That’s exactly what we’re promoting – really observe nature and take advantage of the things you see. Can’t wait to see how it goes.

      That is awesome you are starting your natural farming journey! It is really fun being an unconventional farmer, I’m certain you’ll enjoy the ride. :)

      Patrick

  • george

    Sorry in wrong topic!!

  • Lucas

    hi ,im lucas fron Argentina , first i wanna thank you to gil and his team for this great infomation , how many months can i store the fish hydrolizate ? in good conditions (n(no sun exposure or heat )
    greetings
    lucas

    • Patrick

      Hello Lucas from Argentina! I’ll pass your thanks on to Gil – we’re the team haha.

      Once fermented, you can store the fish fertilizer for ages. More than a year. I dunno how long, it is very stable though, it should store fine.

      Hey Lucas I was wondering, do you know some good ways to increase our accessibility to you guys in South America? Should we have a translate button for English-Spanish-Portuguese? We get a lot of visitors from Argentina, just wondering how we can improve the experience and exposure.

      Thanks!
      Patrick

  • Matthew

    Hi Patrick…

    Do I need to stabilize this when finished with phosphoric or citric acid? Thank you, Matthew

    • Patrick

      Hi Matthew,

      We don’t usually do that in this recipe, I know some recipes call for ‘halting’ the fermentation with an acid. But with lacto or BIM it will get to a point of stability as it becomes acidic from fermentation. I’ve never had a problem with mine and I’ve had it sitting for almost a year before..

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Tony McDonald

    Hi Patrick,
    How does this fish brew go as a protein source for fish or pig feed?
    I am thinking of using a cheap starch source like cassava meal or perhaps rice bran and making a bokashi style of meal with the fish product and some more lacto. To this even some algae and ensile the lot. Add a little molasses and then dry it down to pelletise it. Rhino beetle or black soldier fly larvae, or the golden apple snail meat.
    Do you have any advice on this? Fish and animal feeds are such a price now and fish meal is always a large part of that.

    • Patrick

      That sounds like a great plan Tony. This fish fertilizer works great as an added source of protein for your mix. The BSF larva will also provide that as well as fat. As long as you have the nutrients balanced, especially fat-protein-carb, then you are good to go. I imagine you’ll have to play around with the ingredients a little and see what works best. I think it would be great to add some molasses and let it sit for a day, then dry and pelletise it. You’ll have a pre-digested feed that’ll be great for their growth and health. One caution though, these are acidic recipes and meant to be quite diluted – don’t add too much lacto especially if you’re adding the fish fertilizer already (has lacto in it).

      • Tony McDonald

        Thanks Patrick that was what I hoped you would suggest. There are a great many high carb low protein alternatives to soy and corn diets, sweet potato for instance. But it always is the protein issue.
        For weaned pigs vegetable protein is an issue I have not been able to solve. I can get FCR’s under 2 but cannot hit 1.3 to be competitive. You guys are opening up a channel that is new to me and I thank you.
        For fish feed this will help in produced the floating feed pellets I need to supply some large customers.

        • Patrick

          Hi Tony,

          I emailed you already regarding your FCR’s and how we can help there – ferment your pig feed! One feed ingredient you might look into also – copra cake (coconut meal)! That is amazing stuff, cheap in Asia and an awesome source of protein and fat. Just watch the fiber content as it is pretty high. Fermenting helps with that though.

          Thanks,
          Patrick

  • Tony McDonald

    Patrick,
    Thailand eats a lot of fish. Farms a lot of fish and has a lot of native fish that just come with the wet season. Recent mortalities from fish farms would seem a decent place to start for me. I have a large 3HP meat mincer which I use to pellet up lots of different stuff and I figure it will take care of most fish into a pretty useful size mash.
    I intend to try making up a 200 litre plastic drum batch of this stuff and would like to get your opinion on my feeble calculations. The body is aging but the brain is fighting the trend. I will need 50 8″ tilapia to that add 1 litre of LAB and 8 litre of molasses making up the rest with around 166 litres of water to fill the drum. Correct? I am assuming anaerobic process so no air space and a vapour lock fitted to the cap.

    • Patrick

      Hey Tony – great stuff here. That is a big batch! You might try the recipe on a small scale first just to get experience with it, experience helps a lot with this stuff.

      Regarding your larger fermentation, I’d break it down by weight. Weigh the fish out if you can and go from there. But let’s say the 50 8″ tilapia are around 500g each, so you have 25kg of fish. 1/3 of that would be around 8.3kg, so you want 8.3kg of sugar or 8.3L of molasses. Mix and mash those up, put them in your fermentation vessel, then add 3 parts water by volume, which you can eyeball pretty well, a little more or less doesn’t matter. 1 litre of LAB would work fine for this – you could probably use a lot less but doesn’t hurt to add extra.

      Looks like we came out with pretty similar calculations so I think you’re on the right track! Keep it covered and with the airlock so air can escape but not enter. You’ll know it’s done with it just smells like wine/vinegar on opening! Around 15-30 days usually. That’s great stuff, let us know how it goes!

      Patrick

      • Tony McDonald

        And here I am thinking smaller than usual. My lacto brew tanks total 400 litres. Individual grow, bloom type stuff I usually do in 60 litre plastic rubbish bins. The aerated tea brewer is 130 litre drum attached to my air-compressor.
        Actually I want to use it on my rice with some lacto and grow brews. Only 2 hectares but I got a lot of neighbors so there will be a queue forming pretty quickly.
        The timing sounds pretty good too. I should have my fertiliser pellets made by then. So spread the pellets and spray away.

        • Patrick

          Ha – wow I didn’t realize you had so much experience with the recipes. In that case, brew away! I don’t think you’ll need a practice run. I’m used to fermenting smaller quantities as I’m an “urban farmer”. Let us know how the fish brew goes!

          Out of curiosity, what do you use to disperse air in your compost tea brewer? What kind of air pressure do you get out of the compressor? Have you measured the O2 ppm of the tea? I’m curious because that is one of the big topics in a compost tea brewing post coming soon.

          Cheers,
          Patrick

          • Tony McDonald

            I made up a 1/2in pipe ring which sits in the bottom of the drum it has lots of small holes drilled in the underside. I run the compressor exit at 25psi and figure I am using about 6 cubft/min. O2 level, no way to measure it so not known, sorry but it is sufficient I think.
            I will look forward to your post as tea brewing is one skill I wish to improve on, especially fungal brews.
            I would be interested in your comment on the longevity of aerated teas. I try to use it within 3 or 4 hours of turning off the air but find when I have gone to dump residual brews some days later (lazy, tired, whatever, didn’t get around to it on the day), it is covered in yeasts and so have used it as a drench with great results.
            This is getting good…
            Tony

          • Tony McDonald

            Patrick,
            I should add something here. Gil’s recipes are new to me. Not so different but slightly difference to the standard EMRO/Korean type stuff. What Gil is advocating explains a few things to me that make more sense. But hey, what do I know? I will never know until I give it a go!

  • Mike Landry

    Is it mainly the oily Fishes you would want to target in this fish fert mixture
    Ie: Shad Mullet Carp Pogeys
    I just bought a few mackeral and some croaks and im about to grind them through my meat grinder as well
    I make my own pet food and it can handle chicken drumsticks pretty eassily
    I NORMALY don’t use the bones but I have done it to see it work

    • Patrick

      Awesome question Mike, this was a question of mine too when learning from Gil. You know it just depends what you want out of it. If you’re looking for more nitrogen, ferment more muscles (regardless of species used). If you are looking for oils to feed microbial hordes, oily fishes would be great – fish that swim in the water column are generally more oily than the ones that live at the bottom. So, big ocean swimmers(salmon, tuna, mackerel) or small foragers like herring or sardines would be more oily than whitefishes like sole or cod.

      I personally like using oily fishes just because I think the fish oil is such a great benefit to the garden in general, including the microbes. Yes, grind them up as fine as possible, including bones. Then ferment. In my experience (since I’m just using a household grinder) bones that don’t get shredded beforehand don’t digest completely, but they come out very rubbery, they are definitely broken down to some extent.

  • Chris

    Hi Guys,

    Wondering what is the best specie or species of Lactobacillus to use and any suggestions where to buy from ? Working with some clients who have up to 15000Kg of fish waste a week to process. I am looking at all options to recycle this valuable resource.

    Great site. Keep up the good work

    Cheers
    Chris

    • Patrick

      Wow, 60 tons/month of fish waste, what a great resource. Are they wanting to turn it into an organic Nitrogen fertilizer? What are they doing with it now?

      We don’t deal with specific species but I’d recommend looking for a variety of homofermentative lactobacilli species, acidophilus being a common example of that group. That said it might be moot, lacto spp are pretty ubiquitous and I think you’d have a hard time doing fermentation with only specific species, outside a lab or other very sterile environment.

      Honestly, I would just follow our lactobacillus recipe to make your own lacto, and use that. Made properly it will contain a wide variety of lacto spp that will get the job done. I’ve used that recipe to make lacto which I’ve used to ferment all kinds of things and it’s never let me down.

      Let me know if you have any questions with that.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Dane

    On this same topic, how would crabs work for this process? I am assuming that the fermentation process would break them down just the same as fish, and that there maybe some additional nutrients from the break down of the shells. Thoughts…

    • Patrick

      Great question Dane, I have some feedback for you on this.. Fermentation will work great on the meat and guts of the crab like it does on the fish. It will also digest the shell to some extent but not completely by any means. To really take advantage of the shell, I’d separate it out and use it in the CalPhos recipe. You’ll end up with a great calcium/phosphorus fertilizer for the changeover between grow and bloom. Crab shell also has chitin, which after processing becomes the bio-available chitosan, legendary immune booster and growth promotant studied by NASA and all these other guys. Producing chitosan requires a strong base which this process certainly doesn’t provide, but I still think it can’t hurt to ferment the chitin, it has to more bio-available after exposure to the fermentative process.

      Hope this gives you some ideas. In any case if you want to ferment the crabs shell and all, the acidity should extract some of the calcium, especially if you grind them up real well to increase the surface area of the shell particles.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Stephen

    Would it make a difference if the fish was frozen before use?
    in the instructions it says add 2 tblsp lacto per liter
    would that be full strength serum or is it after it has been diluted to 1:20 with water?

    so far I have made two batches of the fish hydrolysate and my plants seem to love it, in the second batch I substituted my home made seaweed extract for the water.

    • Patrick

      Stephen, love the innovation with the seaweed extract, that’s awesome.

      I don’t think using frozen fish is a big deal.. Freezing doesn’t overly damage the nutrition of the fish and that’s what we’re after essentially. I’d thaw it before use though, ha ha… Anyway “fresh is best” but frozen would be fine too.

      The lacto is the already diluted form. Even using the diluted form that is a strong recommendation. I just add that much because I ferment small batches and I don’t mind adding extra lacto. If you’re fermenting a large quantity and want to use less lacto you can get away with using less. Not sure the lower limit as I don’t work with large quantities (yet).

      Great to hear your plants are loving the homemade fertilizer. Pretty cool to use your own stuff right? No more spending money on expensive organic fertilizer either.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Henry

    Patrick,

    A little update. Going on the fourth day of fermenting 6 pounds of pogies. The first and second day the smell was pretty strong but tolerable. Today I’m pleased to report that the odor is barely detectable. I can’t believe that after this short period of time it’s almost gone.

    Is this normal? Keep in mind that temperatures have been hovering in the mid to high nineties!

    • Patrick

      Haha.. That’s awesome! It usually takes mine a little longer but yes, at a certain point the smell goes away completely. When it’s done it should smell faintly like vinegar, but have almost no smell. 4 days? that’s pretty fast! I’m sure the heat helped, lacto love the high temperatures. See how it goes over the next week but sounds like you are just a super-fermenter :)

  • Henry

    Patrick,

    All I did was follow the directions. I expected the smell to hang around for a couple of weeks at the very least. I failed to mention that even though I chopped the fish up pretty good (almost to a paste) I saw a bunch of floating pieces when adding the liquid now I can count very small pieces on one hand.

    “super-fermenter :)” The only thing super is the recipe. I got a few hundred dollars of Fish hydrolysate for less than $10. Thanks to you and Gil!!!!!!

  • Annie

    Patrick, I came back after being away for a week and found my fish foamed when I stirred it to see if it raised a stink. It did not but what’s with the thick foam? Did I do something wrong?

    • Patrick

      Nope, the foam is fine, it is an indication of protein breakdown into amino acids, and other biological activity that is normal in this process.

    • David

      I can concur with Patrick that foam is normal. I had the same in mine. The only real issue I had was because I wasn’t able to blend up the meat very well at the beginning. My cheap blender burned out while I was preparing it so I had to just chop up the meat with a knife. I was using a chicken rather than fish, so it was more dense that fish. As a result, the chunks of meat and bone that floated in the foam were a source for flies to lay their eggs and maggots crawled around on top. I wasn’t concerned much because they actually helped to help break down the meat that wasn’t digesting with the lactobacillus. But to get better benefit, I kept stirring the mixture every few days to try to keep the meat from floating so that it would be digested from the bacteria instead. Eventually, it seemed that it wasn’t progressing any more so I decided to filter off the largest chunks (with bones) and bury them in my compost bin. Once I did that, the rest of the hydrolysate and foam finished up just fine with no problems from flies and maggots. (The chicken hydrolysate turned out just fine once the undigested bits were gone)

  • Sirbo

    Hi!I’m Sirbo from Mindanao, Philippines. I would like to try using and making my own fish hydrolysate instead of buying chemical foliar fertilizer. However, I don’t know where I can purchase Lacto bacilli. Any suggestions, Sir Patrick?

    • Patrick

      Hi Sirbo,

      Yep, you can make your own! Check the Lactobacillus serum recipe section of this site. Use that recipe to make your own high quality lacto serum.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • is this like useing em cultures to digest difrent fertilzers exc fermenting to utalize diffrent products so you can produce ferts from them because if it is i have done this with great results and can show you a way to do it void of the nast smell even if you use fish hope this post cool stuff you cats are talking about tc b

    • Patrick

      Haha yes this is like that. This recipe will produce a scentless fish fertilizer once completed.

  • Annie

    I just gotta tell you this, I keep all my preps in my computer room and the smells that emanate from the bottles always make me so hungry.Its no wonder plants and soil flourish with these preps. Wish I could bottle the smells as perfume. Bloom perfume, FF perfume etc. Crazy thoughts, wonder if there is others like me around?

    • Patrick

      Lol..there’s at least one :)..

      I have dill, chili, philodendron, cilantro, and parsnip all fermenting (subject of an upcoming flog), they smell amazing when you open them..chili makes me sneeze though :)

  • Stevie welsh

    Hi,

    Can anyone list the potential uses for fish hydrolysate ? I know the obvious ones I just wondered if there were any interesting uses I don’t know and would be interested in your answers and stories.
    Kind regards
    Stevie

    • Patrick

      Please people pitch in here and let Steve know your experiences. Steve I can tell you in a general way fish hydrolysate is a protein and fat source, so all the uses that u can think of for that. Add to animal feed as extra nutrients. Use as a soil drench or foliar spray (but we use more often as soil drench). Add to compost pile – fungi particularly love it as a food source. Drench compacted soils as a soil conditioner, help loosen up the soil and add organic matter (the microbes are really the ones “conditioning” the soil here). Add to your compost tea to help fungi proliferate. You can even drink it yourself, although I don’t recommend it.

      Others can pitch in here with their experiences. I’ve used it for nearly all of the above, including tasting, doesn’t taste bad actually, just sour like the other fermentations.

      • Annie

        I add 1 T to my soil mix that I use to germinate seeds, the seeds germinate very quickly. Also when the seedlings show 2 true leaves, I put 2 drops of FAA into the pots. They grow so fast that within a few days, I can transplant them into bigger pots.

        • Patrick

          Annie, that is awesome info, thanks for sharing your experiences! Glad you are having success with these recipes!

  • Aliyu

    I want try this for my corn farm, but I don’t actually understand what is lacto bacilli.may I pls have an explanation for that.

    • Patrick

      lactobacillus is a genus of bacteria that are capable of operating without oxygen, and are just very efficient digesters. You can make your own lactobacillus by following our recipe here.

  • EDWIN KAMAU

    Hi Patrick, thanks for the great work and information herein. I have a small tea urn which I want to use to make my fish hydrosate,Would applying some heat and constantly regulating it at say 65degrees centigrade for say 2weeks, be okay or it will affect the LAB and convert the resultant liquid to have a high alcohol content? If one is to warm up the contents what temps would u advice to use? Thanks and regards. Edwin

    • Patrick

      Hi Edwin, great comment. Sorry for the late reply I’ve been away. So, 65 centigrade is pretty hot. Many lacto species do like the higher temps but maybe that’s too hot. I would keep the temp around 40 centigrade.

      Not sure how higher temps will affect the process besides speeding it up. Please try it and let us know your observations! I’m curious how long it will take and your results.

  • Gina

    Hi Patrick! I am beyond AMAZED at how informative this website is. Thank you so much for sharing your time and knowledge in helping other people grow food and livestock. I can really see how passionate you and Mr. Gil Carandang are.

    Two green thumbs up! :)

    I plan on making my own fish hydrolysate based on your recipe. To be honest, I would like to make the lactobacillus from scratch, if I wasn’t too excited to use it on my 3-weeks old vegetable seedlings now (raised bed gardening in the vacant lot next to our house as well as my roof deck). The soil condition in our village is terrible! There are hardly any top soil (we live in a rocky elevated area — limestone). I have a couple of compost piles as well as vermicompost pits. i have been collecting organic matter non-stop just so I could have some healthy medium to plant on. The worms have multiplied and have beautifully proliferated everywhere.

    This is my 3rd season to plant organic veggies for personal consumption. Since I just planted the veggies by the vacant lot, my neighbors laughed at me, telling me it’s impossoble to grow them in our area. I worked hard and soon we had an abundance of baguio and french beans, ampalaya, squash, tomatoes, sweet and chili peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, lemon, calamansi, onions, arugula and lettuces. The biggest thrill I had was seeing the look on my neighbor’s faces when I gave away my produce!

    I became known in our area, and lots of people would ask for cuttings (herbs and medicinal plants). Since then, some neighbors have been planting more veggies in their backyard and vacant lots. I’m happy that they went beyond planting the usual kamote and malunggay trees (super low maintenance).

    My problem now is, that even with my soil amendments, companion planting and crop rotation, my new plants are not thriving as well as my first two batches of veggies. :( I keep a grow diary, and I really noticed the stunt in their growth as well as the super irritating abundance of aphids and scale insects. I am obsessed with growing different chili peppers (i love all things spicy!) and was very sad with the decline of my plants. I plan on making your other recipes as well.

    i have a question pls.. (I feel dumb for asking this, sorry!) would using LactoPafi and/or yakult in place of the Lactobacillus Serum work? On their website it says: ” LactoPafi and Lactovitale probiotic health drinks food supplements are infused with eight strains of Lactobacillus they are: L. casei, L.paracasei, L. rhamnosus, L. Plantarum, L. brevis, L. zeae, L. lindneri, and L. perolens.”

    If it doesn’t work, its all good.. I will make and follow your recipe as is. I apologize, I’m just too excited to start using my own concoction and to help my new plants grow better.

    Many thanks in advance! :)

    • Patrick

      Hi Gina!

      First, thank you for the kind words, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the information. It is pretty fun stuff in my opinion.

      Also, that is really neat to hear about your efforts and how they have born fruit. It is inspiring to everyone to read such stories, including me and my tiny balcony garden. Your story encapsulates the goal of this site – getting people into low-input personal gardening, having fun and sharing the bounty with friends and neighbors(thereby inspiring them and spreading the gardening bug). :)

      That is unfortunate to hear about your plants suffering this year. How do you practice crop rotation? Sounds like you need a crop of legumes to till in during one rotation to give your soil the nitrogen boost. Also, this kind of gardening takes some time to reach maximum effectiveness. It will take several years to build up a healthy organic system. Have you looked into biochar also? You can add that into your soil mix and it should help a lot also.

      Are your pepper plants suffering most in the new growth? It’s all stunted and twisted? I had that problem I think from Broad mites, peppers are very susceptible. In any case for aphids and mites there are mixes that can be pretty effective, all from fermented plants. I have some posts coming on the topic hopefully they will help.

      Now in regards to your actual question, haha, no problem, yakult or equivalent would work fine. In fact you don’t even have to add the lacto serum as lacto will infect it anyway from the air and environment, it’s just much faster to use the lacto serum to get a good population established. So, the probiotics are mostly lacto spp and will work well also, though I don’t think as well as our lacto serum, it’s awesome. At some point you should make that serum also, it is so useful in making compost digest faster, killing smells, increasing power of organic fertilizers, etc.

      Hope that helps. Great to hear your story thanks for posting!
      Patrick

  • Aliyu

    Thanks a lot, now I can make my fish fertilizer.
    What I would want to now are:-
    1. Can I keep my fertilizer for use next year?(that’s keeping it one year without expiring)
    2. How often can I spray on my corn farm?
    Waiting for your quick response.

    • Patrick

      In response see below:
      1. Yep you can keep for a year but keep out of direct sunlight and don’t let it freeze.
      2. You can spray as often as you like it shouldn’t burn the plants. But I would start with every 2-4 weeks and see if the plants want more.

  • Diane

    I am housewife and gardener in US. I can get free fish heads. On my second try of Fish Fertilizer I had a 5 gallon bucket over half full of fish heads. I added 1/2 cup of powdered papaya leaves, the peels of 2 pineapples I was preparing for supper, about 4 C sugar and about 1 or 2 cups of whey (I can’t remember). I do not have a blender I can use so I just left the heads whole. I got my son to drill a hole in the lid for an airlock because we have lots of flies and they were swarming. My first time I had lots of maggots in the bucket so this time I put an old t-shirt over the bucket so the flies had to lay eggs on the t-shirt and of course they dried out. I stirred it once maybe on day 4 and there was a lot of liquid but I could not break the heads apart. And now on day 7, the heads are totally disinigrated and most of the meat is dissolved, bones floating around, very little vinegar smell so no flies!!
    How to get whey is here: http://www.cheeseslave.com/how-to-make-whey/
    You can get it from yogurt or kefir or, if you have raw milk, you can just let it sit on the counter for 2-4 days until it turns into curds and whey. Then strain the whey off. If you can get yogurt in a store, you can use that as starter to make your own. I use the whey to also preserve vegetables and chutneys through lactofermentation so it has been wonderful to apply the same principles to make fertilizer. And it is much faster than trying to compost them.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Diane that’s great to hear of your success with the fish fertilizer. I like your take on the recipe the papaya leaves should aid a lot in decomposition. For whey we use the lactobacillus serum described on that recipe page, it works amazingly well. Anyway thanks for sharing your success! Pretty cool to see those fish just disintegrate in days huh…

  • Hi, good day i want to know if you can add some process pics of the recipe. Just to make more clear the general idea also if you know something about this process and if it is the method you use http://organigan.blogcindario.com/2009/03/00006-supermagro-formula-completa.html.
    Thanks,

    • Patrick

      Hi Andres,

      I will be adding that as an article in the Flog. I’ll add the link to this post also.

      Regarding that recipe, that’s interesting. It is very similar to the stuff on this site in that they are using fermentation to liberate nutrients, and milk to ensure lactobacilli are there to do the legwork. Looks like a great recipe!! I haven’t made that one but it looks like it would produce a great fertilizer.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Henry

    Hey Patrick,

    Good to see you back! Made a large batch back in July, now beginning to get somewhat of a strong smell. Any way to salvage the batch, or should I discard?

    Many thanks.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Henry! Phew pretty busy now that I’m back, barely keeping up the Flog and still going through comment backlog!

      Hmmm that is weird regarding the fish fertilizer. If fermenting went correctly, you should be able to keep it in a sealed container no problem. I have a plastic bottle of fish fertilizer that’s about a year and a half old and is still great. If you think it’s going bad you can try fermenting again. Add 1/3 sugar and keep it sealed up so air can’t get in. Might have to add more water too, not sure. Or toss it and start over. That is weird, it should smell consistent once finished fermenting..

  • Dan

    Hi, so this being my first time throwing my hands at the fermentation process, I’m not sure if I’m on the right track or not. So I’ve had my fish hydrosate fermenting for 35 days now (in an air lock tub, roughly 5 litres if I remember right) following your recipe very closely…maybe a touch more lactobacillius, fermenting in an average temp of 26°C day 22°C night, and there is still a mildly strong alcohol like smell to it (not overpowering but odor will fill the room), is this normal for a finished product, or do you think it still fermenting? The reason I ask is because I read in your posts you state that it should have little to no smell to it.

    Thought I should also note: I opened lid to check on things at day 20 and the smell seemed less strong, but that could be due to liquid being less disturbed on opening or other factors.

    • Patrick

      Hey Dan,

      No problem there, if it smells a bit vinegar/alcoholy you are fine. It just shouldnt smell “rotten” or super fishy or something like that. The alcohol/vinegar smell is from fermentation. 35 days in those temps should yield a finished product. You will likely have some bubbles still for awhile (a little more fermentation), just crack the storage container every few days to let the air out or keep it in the airlock. You can keep the finished product in a sealed container but it should be pretty stable, no problem opening it to use whenever you need. Basically, even if it is still fermenting a little bit, it’s fine to start using it now.

      Thanks,
      Patrick

  • Adam

    Thank you thank you thank you! I Have been making a few batches of Fish Hydrolysate and this stuff is AMAZING/MIRACULOUS!! I have sprayed plants that have not done well for over 10 years in their current location (eg a Wisteria) and within a couple of months it has gone nuts. It basically had stagnated for years and now is sending out shoots left right and center and the plant has doubled in size! I have an Elephant ear palm that is like on steroids and has exploded in new growth! Lawn…..dont get me started….we are getting 4-6 inches of growth every 7-10 days. So many thanks for a wonderful product, we are making the fish emulsion now in 200Lt drums and Lacto in 20 Lt drums and then storing the Lacto 50/50 in molasses!

    • Patrick

      Wow, that is an excellent review!! Thank you so much for sharing this awesome feedback!

      I’m glad you are having success making and using this. It is pretty neat to make your own fertilizer and see it work right? :)

      Patrick

  • nosid naalra

    hi patrick

    good day. i just want to know if bee honey is a good substitute for molasses

    thanks.

    • Patrick

      Hi Nosid,

      Well, it works as a substitute for molasses. It is not as good – molasses is generally accepted as the best sugar source because of the vitamins/minerals it contains – but honey will work fine as a sugar source. I’ve used honey and syrup and things like that before no problem.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Shelley

    You state in Step 5 Add lacto bacilli to blended fish mixture. I use 2tbsp per L. You can use more or less if you want. 2tbsp/L is plenty though.

    What is this and where do I get it? when looked up on internet I cannot find where it can be purchased

    • Patrick

      Hey Shelley,

      We have a page on how to make it. If you don’t want to make it, you can use a probiotic like yakult, but making it is much better in my opinion – higher diversity of organisms. Our page on making lacto serum is here.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

      • Shelley

        Thank you Patrick we will use these instructions.

  • darrell

    should I be adding lactobacillis undiluted at 2 tbps per litre?

    • Patrick

      Just the normal application rate – the 20x diluted lacto.

  • Winnie

    Going to try making my own as I have access to fish remains. In farming communities in the USA one can buy animal grade molasses in 5# or greater amount containers at local farm supply stores. It is cheaper than sugar. Who has so much honey that it could be wasted on dead fish goop? That would be really expensive. As for sugar, that is a question. 90% of sugar made from sugar beets is from GMO beets. I don’t know if the last traces of “Roundup” is extracted from the sugar so I go with cane sugar thinking that there is less herbicide in the tissues and the chlorine is evaporated when I use it to feed the hummingbirds and as winter bee food. Any opinions?

    • Patrick

      Thanks Winnie! I agree – stick with feed grade molasses. It’s the best stuff you can use..

  • Levy

    How often do you have to apply the fermented fish to green leafy veggies. What is the optimum mixing ratio. Thanks

    • Patrick

      As often as you want really. But I would do every other week just so you don’t have so much work. But you can add every watering if you want, shouldnt be a problem, it’s not like a chemical fertilizer. I would mix 1 tbsp/gal for this frequent application, up to 2 tbsp/gal.

      • Levy

        thanks much

  • Josa

    Hi Patrick, I tried making the fish hydrolysate. I followed the recipe as best as I could, it was perhaps a bit off in my brown sugar to fish ratios. I placed the mixture in a glass jar and covered with a papertowel and rubberband. Somehow some fruit flies got in and now I have a bunch of fruit fly larvae crawling around inside the jar. Is this a total waste and I should start over or can it be rescued?

    • Patrick

      Oh no that’s fine!! We get bugs in our stuff sometimes, sometimes we even get to harvest black soldier fly larvae out of them which is nice. You’re using this on plants, you don’t need to worry if it gets “infested” with other critters.

      You might try adding more sugar and lacto and see if that doesnt drive the fruit flies away if you don’t want them.

      Patrick

  • Hi, I am working on “Fertilizers”, and I really liked your FAA. I am going to try it soon. will be in toiuch with you. Thanks

    • Patrick

      Great! Let me know how it goes.
      Patrick

  • manikandavelu

    Really a good site to have a bsic as well as advance know how on fish fertilizer preparation. keep going

  • Gian

    Hi Patrick,

    I was just wondering about the recipe in making fish fertilizer. I’ve been reading a lot about fish fertilizer and its one of the great natural fertilizer to be used. As I notice, your recipe is quite different from others. Some just add molasses at 1:1 ratio and nothing more. Could you explain why your recipe is compost of other substrates.

    Thanks
    Gian

    • Patrick

      Hi Gian,

      You can add molasses and nothing else, it should ferment just fine, but it might take a bit longer, and has a higher chance of going bad due to infection with the wrong microbes. We add lacto to make sure these things don’t happen. Also adding lacto allows us to add less sugar and still have dependable results.

      The molasses is just a sugar source, you can use any kind of simple carbohydrate, if you don’t have access to molasses. We focus on the principles behind the recipe, rather than just prescribing a formula “that you must follow”..

      Cheers,
      Patrick

      • Gian

        Hi Patrick,

        Its been 3 weeks already and my fermentation still has a vinegar/patis smell; it’s not irritating…but after reading your instruction again…it should not smell. I just realized after asking our helpers what they did….they mixed the fermentation everyday. Will this still be ok to use or I have a spoiled fermentation. Last week I added a little bit of lacto since substrates has not dissolved.

        Thanks
        Gian

        • Patrick

          Hey Gian, don’t worry I was exaggerating a bit, it will have a little smell just not like a rotten fish smell you know. Vinegar/patis smell is great, sounds like it was successful. Regarding the solids, if you blended up the fish you shouldn’t have too much leftover. See my blog article on fish fertilizer, there’s a link at the top of this article.

  • Daniel

    Hi Patrick,
    Love the site, you guys are awesome! My question is, the fish I used wasn’t fresh, actually a couple weeks old. Will this have any adverse effect on the final product?
    Thanks,
    Daniel

    • Patrick

      Hey Daniel, Glad you are enjoying our site!

      Nope, that is just fine to use fish already “infected with microbes”. If you are worried about the wrong microbes proliferating, you can add extra sugar when you mix it up initially. And also add more lacto. But it should be fine as long as you keep it anaerobic during fermentation.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Meryl Cuento

    Hi Patrick. When did you published this article? Thankss

    • Patrick

      Hi Meryl,

      I published these, ohh I think a little over 1 year ago now. But Gil has had them for ages. He released them as a book on amazon a long time ago. Just recently I asked Gil if I could build a site around the topics and he said ‘go for it’, so the Unconventional Farmer was born.

      Why do you ask?

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Geralyn_D

    I find that if I save all the bread products, crackers, desserts and chips that we don’t use and then use them as both sweetener and fungal source I have really nice ferments… This appeals to my resolve to return all food stuffs back to the earth.
    Also on my ferments I use the last few ounces of an old batch to kick start the next one.

    I have been using sugar (probably GMO) for feeding humming birds and as a pretreat for saved urine… I hate the idea of that as a source but am not sure about using molasses for those little guys…

    • Patrick

      Hey Geralyn,

      Thanks for the info on the leftovers, that’s awesome! ya I can imagine it would be a good mold source…

      Hey you should use molasses to feed the hummingbirds, it would be ideal!! Just make sure to DILUTE! Not sure exactly the ratio you would go for there, maybe 1:10 or something, 1 part molasses to 10 parts water.. I know I’ve read that in the past but forget where or how reliable it is.. But yeah, properly diluted molasses will be excellent for your birds – lots of good micro nutrients..

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Jerry Wilkes

    Hi Patrick, you are doing an awesome job. I just turned 60 and have been farming and raising cattle, hogs and chickens all my life. I’m transitioning from commodity to organic and all natural. Your information is great – I have a couple of questions. First if you are adding LB to animal water would you use the 20 to 1 ratio or just the LB and Molasses. My second question is, I hate litter boxes but have 2, I was wondering if I could make Bokashi from sawdust, dry it and use that as a litter base to then be added to compost pile. My third question is I’m located in the poultry capital of the world, N Georgia. Could I make Bokashi from Chicken litter that comes from poultry houses. I can purchase truck loads for 6 dollars a ton. Just wondered if it would ferment. The last question is if were making LB for use in a CAFO what strength would you recommend to spray the houses with to start the composting and keep the smell down and how often should it be used. Thanks Jerry

    • Patrick

      Hey Jerry,

      Awesome post here sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. To answer your questions:
      1. Animal water, use the diluted form, not the LB+sugar mix.
      2. Yeah that should be a good natural litter, the sawdust Bokashi. I’m not sure how well it will cut the smell after it’s been dried and such but should work ok. Try it!
      3. Wow chicken litter.. That’s awesome, I would compost it the normal aerobic way. You can bokashi it but that’s a lot of sugar, you would need a cheap source of molasses. Can you email me on this? You should make compost and sell it maybe.
      4. I’ve always wanted to use the lacto in a CAFO, what type is it? Poultry? Lacto will be awesome for smell, you should see dramatic results there. I would use at 1-2 tbsp per gallon initially sprayed once per week. Mist everywhere. Including on animals and their bedding. Later you can use more dilute and less often. Vary strength and frequency according to need.

      Great to hear from you, hope to get your email soon!
      Cheers
      Patrick

      • Jerry Wilkes

        Thanks Patrick for your answers, I’m looking a pursuing this pretty strong. I’m testing the litter boxes right now – It’s working on them. I’m just misting them about every other day with the 20/1 LB. I haven’t made the Bokashi yet? Would you use BIM and LB for making it?

        You would think that more farmers would know about this stuff – it’s amazing how brainwashed we have gotten from big pharma and industrial ag boys. I’m an information junkie or I never would have found y’all. This is fascinating stuff.

        I need to find a good microscope cheap – any ideas on what kind, power and price. I just ordered a 5 gallon bucket of Molasses. I can buy it industrial for about 5 cents a pound plus shipping. I’m trying to find out about the brix levels now.

        Farmers are always eager to try something as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. I’ve got the testing ground and friends to try it on. Cousin has 58,000 Laying hen in brooder houses. Another has 4 -50 x 500 broiler houses. Plenty of poop to play with.

        There are several companies that are making these products commercially, they are really expensive.

        I’m putting some hard cooked rice in a bamboo thicket this week to make the BIM. I’ll mix that with LB. Here’s the recipe i’m going to use on a small pasture. Applying 20 gallons of water to an acre in spray machine, we’ll try this, 2 oz per gallon of Lb/bim, 1 pint of Shaklee Basic H, 1 gallon of milk, I’m trying to get a real high brix level in the grass.

        Thanks for all you two are doing – I really enjoy it

        Jerry

        • Patrick

          Hey Jerry, I’m emailing you the response to this so we can get a thread going there. I’m hoping we can work together on some of this stuff.

  • Chelsa

    Can we use rotted fish?

    • Patrick

      Absolutely, no problem. Just make sure you add sugar, and maybe use a little extra lacto in the beginning.

  • Steven

    Can the hydrolsate be made aerobically?

    • Patrick

      Hi Steven,

      Not really, to make it aerobically you would have to aerate it a lot, but that’s not possible unless you have a very high water-fish ratio and a really powerful aerator. The logistics don’t really work out.

      Patrick

    • David

      Steven,

      Following Patrick’s recipes have been my first experience with anaerobic fermentation. I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and have now made a number of fermented products. The fish fertilizer can have a pretty strong smell as it is fermenting, but as long as you have a sheltered outdoor area to store your container, it shouldn’t be a problem. (I keep mine in a garage.) This Spring I have been able to use the hydrolysate in my garden and have been very pleased with the results.

      -David

  • giorgos

    great
    can i use kelp meal 1.5-0.3-2.8 in the mix to raise k content to more even ratio?
    thanks

    • Patrick

      Hi Giorgos,
      You can use kelp meal in this recipe, sure! You would be making a more balanced fertilizer then, since K is more for blooming and the fish is more for growing. Should be great.
      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Andrew

    Hey Patrick. I successfully made the LAB serum. Worked great. I blended up a couple large lake trout and have fermented the fish Hydrolysate behind the wood stove for just shy of 4 weeks at about 70 75 degrees F consistent. Doesn’t really smell much anymore but there is a layer of white and grayish fluffy mold stuff on top but underneath it looks just like your brown liquid EXCEPT it is still a seperation of dark brown liquid with fish puree that is totally emulsified. It’s 3 layers bottom layer is dark brown thin liquid which I assume is molasses color and water and the oils floating on top THEN above that is a thin layer of gray white mold and a little red color on the glass wall above the mixture. Does your hydrolysate picture look uniform in color because it was stirred up? or does it seperate into two layers when you let it sit? or is this a sign the ferment isn’t complete? I know you didn’t use a fatty fish. Lake trout is really fatty. Could that be it? Anyway thanks for any input

    • Patrick

      Hey Andrew,

      I should have taken a picture after I let mine sit, you’ll see immediately you’re on the right track. If you let it sit for any length of time you’ll see it separate into 2 layers – fats/oils/proteins on top, more amino acids, liquids, sugars on bottom. I wouldn’t worry about the mold, should be fine for the garden.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

      • Andrew

        Thanks for the reply Patrick. I’m usually flawless when I make fermented foods to eat myself and I don’t allow the kind of stuff that was on the top of the fish hydrolysate LOL I came to realize it was like a thin skin on the top and didn’t really mix in. Like a scab it just formed a seal on the top that made it more airtight. I was surprised that the weird colors formed because I used an airlock to make sure. Once I got the layer off the top it was all dissolved and hasn’t formed anything else. I’m kinda OCD lol so I’m glad to know I won’t be inoculating my garden with pathogens HAHA

        • Patrick

          Haha yeah, I can relate to the OCD thing – especially at first, those kinds of things are disconcerting. But over time you get used to little things like that, and more able to recognize real issues (green/black molds, bad smells).. Sounds like you might have had some healthy molds form initially before the ferment progressed to a point to restrict mold growth. Nothing wrong with that.. :)

  • Azlan

    been doing FPE for a while now. tried with different things i have. i only recently tried fish enzyme. before this i just chuck it in 2ft deep and layer it with dried leaves etc and after a while, plant veges on top. i get free fish excess from the market. the head and bones aren’t quite working for me as i recycle juice bottles. and they don’t break down as fast. and my super blender just gave way. so, i have resorted to the blood and the softer body parts. the plants seem to love them to bits.

    as for FPE, i have tried poms only (which smells ridiculously nice!), citrus only (mixture of grapefruit, lemon and orange peels – which is incredibly amazing in terms of smell that i used it for mopping), rotten tomato/grapefruit peel/cucumber skin/onion skin/potato skin/carrot, green leaves/etc. whatever i have from the kitchen. my wife says the store room is like a secret lab – it houses some 30 bottles of FPE and fish enzymes, seeds and recycled bottles and milk cartons that i plan to use to propagate seedlings (but never had the time to do it yet. lol).

    i live in the middle east by the way. where the soil (technically it is sand) has no nutrients at all. and i have to reinvigorate the soil. it’s been a year now. and it seems to be working. i have not used any chemical fertilisers and the plants are growing really well – papaya, poms, tomatoes, pandanus, curry leaves, basil, tarragon, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, wild ginger, ginger, fenugreek, mustard, chard, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, peanuts, onions, garlic, mulberry, roselle, chillies, broccoli, cosmos caudatus, and some other stuff. at the moment, it is a bit haphazard. i just chuck in some plants wherever i have space. need to learn more about companion planting.

    thanks for this great site. it has helped a lot! i love you guys! :D

    • David

      @Azlan Since you have to build up your soil from just sand, make sure that you are composting as much as you can. The plants need organic material in addition to the organic fertilizers that you are creating. Since composting worms are probably difficult to obtain, you might look at Patrick’s cockroach composting instead. Then you can take shredded paper or cardboard to help build your compost soil amendments. Sounds like you are already having some great success! Keep it up!

    • Patrick

      Azlan,

      Great comment! Thanks for sharing your experiences! That is so awesome, particularly because we have another member from that part of the world, Dubai I think, and she was asking about organic gardening in desert conditions. Your post should be great help and inspiration, I’ll point her to it.

      Haha your store room sounds like mine exactly, complete with wife’s comments.. :)

      David thanks for the input! I can’t wait to get a forum going so we can all chat more easily.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Bradley

    Hello fellas,

    I’ve been reading through these forums and recipes for several weeks off and on now. I’ve got a bucket of L.Bacilla sitting on the porch right now, its been there about a week. I plan to harvest the stuff in the morning. Also, I went fishing today and wound up with a few fish and quite a lot of bait fish. I’ve blended all the fish, mixing with approx. 3 parts of river water for each part of fish. I might add that 2 to 3 inch bait fish blend up really easily. I’ve got roughly 300 ounces of blended fish and water. In the morning I plan to mix in 4 cups of brown sugar and one cup of L.Bacilla. Since I’ve not yet collected the L.Bacilla from the fermenting milk I’ll add a cup of the stuff straight to the fish. I was wondering if I had made the serum with equal sugar to L.Bacilla if I should be adding twice as much at this stage. I’m hoping to have about 2 liters of L.Bacilla serum, which I’ll use some of next month to start a 2nd batch of fish hydrolysate.

    • Patrick

      Hey Bradley sorry for the late reply, so busy these days. You don’t need much lacto actually, just 1tbsp/L, so for 300oz it would be about 9 tbsp. And that is of the 1:20 diluted serum. So of the lacto serum+sugar, you would only need half a tbsp max for your 300oz batch. Don’t worry, adding too much isn’t a problem. Your lacto serum will go very far if you need, thats all.

  • Nebula

    Ok,since me find this site,was hooked to stick around and try to make this recepies.So me did so,and have a lot of questions!!First,thanks for all this informations you gave for all of us!!!And me made this fish fertilizer,but since me had two things in garden in large quantities(snails and grass clipings)me wonder how and for what to use it.So for snails,me put them in this fertilizer,but first me put them in hot water for 10 minutes.is it ok?It was easy to take them out from the shell after,and reason to make “soup” from them is that after me used this water for watering around plants to deter snails from them.And also me wanted to make juice from grass to put it in fertilizer instead of water.But it was two much work so me used urin.You think it is ok?There is a lot of nitrogen and other staff there.And was thinking also to add a little milk?What do you think??Thank you a lot!!!

    • Patrick

      Hi Nebula,

      Haha lots of questions there. Sorry for the late reply, I’ll try to answer your questions quickly. Hot water for the snails is ok, although ideally you could just crush them up, shell and all, ferment them, and then add 1tbsp of that per L of water and water around your plants. Will be great for your plants. Also, you can use urine no problem. Dilute it before applying though, it can burn small plants.

      Thanks for the interest, i’m glad you’re enjoying the site!
      Patrick

  • Bradley

    Just as a bit of an update… The bucket of L.Bacilla that I harvested produced an excess of 5 liters of fluid, which I poured through a strainer and funnel into plastic bottles from my recycling bins. I had used 2 gallons of milk and one quart of the rice wash product which had sit in a shady spot for 8 days. I poured one of the full liter bottles of L.Bacillus fluid into a glass jar and added equal part of brown sugar and mixed then funneled into a two liter plastic bottle. I gave one of the liter bottles to my land lady and book marked this site on her PC as a reference for use. I’m sending a 1.5 liter bottle with a friend to add to a fish pond on his property. For the fish hydrolysate, I added a pint of the fluid since I had plenty. I placed all of the white material from the bucket to my compost pile.

    Thank you for all of the information here and I’ll be sharing with friends and family as I produce more good stuff to share.

    • Patrick

      Thanks for the update Bradley sorry for the late replies it’s been crazy here.

      That is awesome you are sharing with friends and family! I hope they use them to good effect. Can’t wait to hear back from your friend with the fish pond. Use sparingly at first! You should see cleaner water, faster fish growth/reproduction, less mortality, all of it.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Ellen LaPenna

    Dear Patrick,

    I’m new to all this and was excited to try the fish hydrolysate fertilizer. I made the recipe today but later realized I calculated the lacto amount on 2.7 gallons of fish, brown sugar and water instead of the 1.7 gallons I actually had. THEN, in reading your answers to others, I realized the lacto you are using is in the diluted form, not the straight serum that I made a few weeks ago. In 1.7 gallons of fish goop, I put in 1.25 cups of pure lacto. That’s a whole lot of lacto for the almost 5 pounds of chemical-free salmon heads. Have a ruined my batch? Is there anything I can do to correct it if I have?

    Thank you for all you are doing to help us!

    Ellen

    • Ellen LaPenna

      A little update: It’s been about two weeks since I started the fish emulsion with too much Lacto. It now smells like paint thinner with fish undertones. I’m guessing it’s not usable, but just thought I’d ask. Thank you.

      • Patrick

        thanks for the email on this topic – sorry you had to throw it out, I amended the recipe to make sure people dilute the lacto accordingly.

        • Ellen LaPenna

          Thank you, Patrick!

          Ellen

    • Patrick

      I would have said this is fine, but I got your email regarding the ethyl acetate formation, I’ll update the recipe so it’s clearer to use the diluted form.

  • Taylor

    Hi again Patrick,
    Just getting to final steps of my LAB. Nervous haha, but all looks well. The three layers you speak of are they as follows: top thin film, middle (most of the quantity) foggy, and bottom thick curdy looking stuff?
    Do you dilute the final LAB before putting into the fish mixture? Or do you use pure?
    If you were going to ferment fish in a 55 gallon container/quantity how much lacto would you use? Would you keep the same ratio as with smaller batches?
    Thanks again,
    Taylor

    • Bradley

      Hey Taylor,

      I just wanted to make sure that you had followed the directions fully on making the LAB. The reason I ask, the three layers of the finished LAB should be more like a top layer of thick curdled milky white, the middle layer should be a yellowish or milky clear and the bottom layer should be some fine particulate fallout. When I made a batch of LAB, I used a 5 gallon bucket as the container. I added two gallons of whole milk and a quart of the infected rice wash. I placed a lid on the bucket but left a small gap on one side for venting. After 8 days in mild weather, I harvested the LAB serum from the bucket. I had to take a ladle and scoop out quite a bit, an inch or so thick, of that curdled material to get to the liquid layer. I then used a cup to collect the liquid and pour it through a strainer to separate small pieces of the white material that was floating on top.

      You should keep in mind that the LAB that they call for is the 20-1 diluted version. I highly recommend that you first mix the fluid that you get 1-1 with brown sugar. I then take a 2 liter bottle and fill with de-chlorinated water, leaving some space to add the serum, I then add 3.5 once of the LAB serum to the bottle to get the 20-1 ratio.

      How to you plan on blending the fish? I use a small kitchen blender, I put 30 once of water in then add fish to reach the 40 once mark. After I blend the fish well, I add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and two table spoons of the diluted LAB. This ensures that you will have sugar and LAB mixed well into the batch. It took me nearly an hour to get 3 gallons fixed up this way. If you are considering doing large batches, think about the ratios: lets assume that you want 90 gallons made in two 55 gallon containers. You would need 20 gallons of fish, 60 gallons of water, seven gallons of molasses and just over 300 ounces of the diluted LAB.

      I’m wondering if an electric trolling motor could be used as an immersion blender if it had a modified prop. If you can’t find a way to blend large amounts of fish, you’ll want to cut them up as small as you can. I would still try to add the mixed fish, water, sugar and LAB in the same proportions as in a small batch.

    • Patrick

      I think I got this question already, sorry for the late reply Taylor, it’s been busy here.

  • Veri informative site on organic farming.I found cockroach composting amusing? Is this feasible in commercial scale?

    What is the proximate analysis compare to vermi?

    • Patrick

      Hey Joel,

      You could definitely do it at a commercial scale. In the proper conditions, the roaches will reproduce at an astonishing rate, and consume an unbelievable amount of food scraps compared with worms for example. I’d love to see a study comparing their commercial viability, alongside BSF.

      Email me and we can discuss further if you want. Use the contact form on this site, will work.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Henry

    Patrick,

    Have you followed up at all using Papain? I just purchased some and I really would appreciate any input from you or anyone familiar as to how to use it (how much? when to add etc.)

    Many thanks!

  • levy lim

    Is it okay to use a soy milk for making IMO Sir? Thank you very much!

    • Patrick

      Hey Levy, Sorry it’s gotta be cows milk. You need the lactose in normal milk, to make sure LAB proliferate. I don’t think soy and other milks have the lactose as they are actually emulsions not true milks.

  • Anna

    Hi Sir Patrick and Sir Gil,

    May I know when you can publish the recipe on feather meal?
    We are on the chicken slaughtering business and the problem on its waste disposal for the feathers and its entrails has always an issue on our part. Frequent problem on waste collection and handling on nearby neighbors’ complaint is our biggest problem, please help. Thanks Sirs!

    • Patrick

      Hey anna,

      We are working on that, I’ll let you know when we post. in the meantime, have you tried composting all that stuff? Mix your entrails/feathers with something carbon-rich, like rice straw which is cheap in the philippines. Spray the pile with lacto and that will keep the smell down. Then sell the compost, it will be incredible compost!

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Adrian

    Hello,
    Your recipe differ from others:
    1. you don’t use brown leaves or sawdust in the mix
    2. you keep the mix anaerobic and the others stir every day

    Can you explain please ?

    • Patrick

      Hi Adrian, yeah I’ve seen that elsewhere too. Some people say they use sawdust to keep the smell down, others say it traps the Nitrogen that would otherwise be offgassed in fermentation. I haven’t had different batches analyzed to compare N content. But I can tell you the fish fertilizer recipe here works very very well. Would love to get the lab results on the different methods though.

      Definitely keep the mix anaerobic. If you stir it, you make it aerobic and introduce different microbes that might out-compete the lacto we’ve introduced. We want to just use lacto to ferment the fish, so we need to keep the conditions optimal for lacto. Otherwise the wrong organisms might dominate and you’ll make something foul and harmful.

      Sorry for the late reply!

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Gerry

    Patrick,

    Thank you for your excellent web site and all the great recipes and valuable information. I have a question in regard to fish hydrolysate and potentially similar mixtures. In our area of Australia we have many roadkill animals. I have been experimenting with small animal bodies, having removed the hide then macerated the flesh and bones, mixed with liquid then used an extended lacto bacilli inoculant mix which uses seaweed from deep water and salt water in the mix and have been able to produce a foliar spray with no odour. I am not sure as yet if this can be done on a regular basis and/or with different animals. I shall have to experiment more with various inputs. However, the thing that interests me is that a small healthy animal, mixed with sea water should have similar component parts to fish hydrolysate. If this is the case roadkill animals may be readily converted with safety to a foliar fertiliser. Does this make sense and do you have any cautions or comments? Thanks again for your wonderful web site, your skills and your sharing.
    Gerry

    • Patrick

      Hi Gerry,

      I think that should be fine, in fact I don’t think you need to add saltwater as long as you add the lacto and the sugar, then ferment it thoroughly. Good use of roadkill!

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Hi, I am quite new to all this and would like to make my own fish stuff. I tried going fishing but caught nothing, Ha! Can I use frozen fish??? I live in Japan and fish is not cheap here.
    Can I preserve this stuff, lets say for next years crop. We do have 4 seasons here.
    TY! I enjoy your posts
    Hugo

  • julie in interior alaska

    Hello Patrick or Gil,
    I have 40 sockeye salmon carcases which we just processed and I need to do something with them. Would you please give me some advice for making up a large batch of fish emulsion? I have a large barrel. Should I find a way to grind up the carcasses? Thank you for your time!

    • Patrick

      Hey Julie from interior Alaska!

      Sorry for the late reply! Ideally you would grind them up (you can pick up a manual grain grinder pretty easily, for this purpose), but you don’t have to. Just add all your salmon scraps to the barrel, estimate their weight and add 1/3 sugar, then add like 1.5 parts water by volume. Doesn’t have to be super exact. but you’ll want to keep the top sealed with airlock so it’s anaerobic during fermentation.

      Sorry for the late reply hopefully the info is still helpful.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

      • julie in interior alaska

        Hi Patrick,
        Thanks for your reply. I went with advice from another source and just threw the carcasses into the bottom of the barrel, added kelp, molasses, old grass clippings, and filled it with water. I don’t have the top sealed, as I didn’t want the gasses to blow off the lid. Would this be a problem? Also, I was planning to let the barrel stay outside and freeze solid this winter, then use it on the garden when it thaws in the spring. Will this work alright?

        • Patrick

          Hey Julie,

          That works! It’s a bit more smelly and not quite as controlled but it should work fine. Ideally you would seal the lid and use an airlock so it doesn’t explode but if not, just cover with a cheese cloth and tie with rope or something.

          You can leave it overwinter as well, no problem. I think it will be ok when it thaws in the spring. Not ideal but better than having a smelly barrel in the garage all winter. :)

          Cheers
          Patrick

  • Taylor

    Hey guys,
    Thank you again for this site and all the awesome help!

    Iv had my 55 gallon drums of fert sitting now for about a month, they are still bubbling which makes me confident that all is well. However I’m curious what effects colder weather could have on this process(besides slowing it down). I’m doing this in Alaska so I’m guessing the average temp is around 15 Celsius give or take a couple degrees. They do get warmed from good long sunlight during the day however and store heat fairly well in the drums. What do you guys think about all this? Should I have moved these to a heated area? Or is allowing the natural heat and energy going to work out for me? They really start bubbling when the sun comes out but I guess that could just be an expansion factor. Anything I should check for?
    Thanks again,
    Taylor

    • Patrick

      Hey Taylor, watch the smell as an indicator of how it’s progressing. Should smell a lot less in the end, and have more of a sour fermented smell.

      Regarding temperature, you should be ok in summertime in Alaska. 15 Celsius is pretty cool but shouldn’t kill the bacteria, just slow them down a lot. We store lacto in the fridge to keep it from growing and it survives that, so there you go. But yeah, it will take longer with those cool nights. As long as it heats up nicely during the day, you should be ok. Keep them covered a bit so they don’t get direct sunlight, that’s hard on microbes.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

  • Taylor

    Thanks Patrick,
    I took some out and it seems to have the correct smell. Mine has an orangey brown color to it because of the color of salmon flesh I guess. The drums the fert is stored in are black and blue do you think the direct sunlight could still hurt the microbes through that polyurethane shell?
    Thanks for everything,
    Taylor

    • Patrick

      Hi Taylor,

      I think you’re fine, I doubt the sunlight filtered through those thick plastic drums would be a problem. And if the fertilizer smells ok then you are likely good to go. Yeah color varies a bit according to the fish you use, that’s not a problem. Sounds like you’ve made a lot of great fertilizer! What are you going to do with it? Sell it? Fertilize a ton of plants? Anyway let me know, I like hearing how our members are using our info, it’s fun.

      Patrick

  • Hi Patrick,
    I did check on my brew and there is no smell whatsoever, pretty cool, growing season is basicly finished, nut I’ll use it on our plants and next year on my veggies.nwill try to make another batch before winter hits here.
    Tx for your help, take care, Hugo

  • mahadeb saha

    Can i use boiled tea with milk & sugar , this tea mixture is used in tea garden as natural fertilizer. Can i use this tea mixture with cow dung,cow urine ,brown sugar(small amount) cow milk , bamboo leaves rice barn , rice husk. please reply me

    • Patrick

      I’m not sure how you mean – you can combine all those to make a traditional compost heap, and that will compost excellently, those are wonderful ingredients. Just make sure you don’t have too much moisture in there – keep it about 55-60%.

  • Liz

    Running a beef farm on poorish soil. Since finding your sight have been brewing up large quantities of fish. Would like to know what is the highest concentration that is safe to spray out as a soil drench.Second question – as this product is made from rotting fish how long after spraying a pasture paddock is it safe for cattle to feed on the grass. Really appreciate your information on this sight. Thank you.

    • Patrick

      Hi Liz,

      So, with the fish fertilizer we recommend 2tbsp/gallon. But you can go higher and I think you could go up to 4tbsp/gallon if you wanted. But no need to make it stronger, 2tbsp/gal is good in our experience.

      The finished fish fertilizer shouldn’t be “rotten” per se – it should have very mild smell and shouldn’t contain pathogens. We use it as an additive directly to our animal feed with great results. If you spray at night your cows should be able to graze that grass the next day.

      Thanks,
      Patrick

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