A fish per Stalk of Corn

When I was a kid every history class taught us the native americans used one fish per stalk of corn. As I got older I read never use meat in your compost pile. I always assumed that warning was to avoid drawing vermin to your location. Fish emulsions are very common in gardening. When I was a teenager I dug a hole and added old fish tales , heads etc to the hole and one tomato plant. I repeated the process a dozer or so times. I fished a lot to provide fish for my family to eat and grew a lot of vegetables for the same reasons. In that small area that year I grew enormous numbers of tomatoes which I would credit to the method. A funny thing happened the next year not even a weed would grow in that spot. I suspect high nitrogen content was to blame and thank for the mixed results. Have any of you had similar results? I have seen professional farms turned hard as a rock from the application of anhydrous ammonia and that is what that reminded me of. Nitrogen in my understanding breaks down organic matter which is what makes soil moist , draws worms etc. I have not used that method since then because I’m concerned about the long term effects on the soil. Here is a picture of one of my hybrids I will soon need to eat because they are beginning to overpopulate.


While N may help bacteria break down organic matter, at the same time it stimulates top AND bottom growth of plants (contrary to old ideas). The roots will contribute organic matter as well as whatever residue is left on top. It is probably not the anhydrous ammonia alone that hardens soil, simply plowing is more responsible for a breakdown in organic matter- the bacteria need oxygen as much as N to break down OM. Plowed soil will always lose the majority of it’s OM over time if it isn’t added by way of manure or organic mulch of some kind.

I’m pretty sure the fish was not responsible for the great crop the first year or the lack of crop the second, but without a control we can only guess. Tomatoes often will fruit lightly if over fertilized with N but provide a fab crop of leaves. Corn feeds heavily on N though.

You can never make a reliable deduction on cause and affect in horticulture if you don’t have a control and even then it can be dicey. In this case, tomato plants growing in exactly the same conditions but without the fish. Now you will probably tell me you employed such a control, in which case I will turn up my hands and raise my eyebrows.

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I was young at the time Alan and did not have a control. Wished I would have had a control. What you said about excess leafy growth makes perfect sense to me but it did not happen. I’m going to reproduce the experiment because it still does not make sense to me. Corn is a heavy nitrogen user so I can certainly see why the Indians used that method for that crop. Can you think of anything other than N the fish could possibly be a source of? The variety of tomatoes I used were simply called dwarf or patio tomatoes? What’s even stranger is I have used cow manure that was to fresh and caused the excessive growth due to nitrogen you mentioned. I even had a friend kill a garden by tilling it in with fresh manure once. The excess nitrogen from manure did not kill the area the following year.

That is a nice bluegill. I think bream are the best eating fish with crappie coming in a close second place. I see a fish fry in your future.


I think so to justjohn. They are pretty tasty! I think I will take Alan’s advice and make a row with fish and one without and just try the experiment again. I know I could use greens this fall or turnips but I’m really tempted to try it with tomatoes again next year. I know the greens would love the nitrogen.

For all I know someone could have mixed tordon & 2 4 D herbicide in that spot that fall after I cleared out the tomatoes but I doubt it.

Nice Bluegill. Skillet size

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I have hill where I grew an Atlantic giant pumpkin last year. I fertilized it heavily last year and this spring I put a gallon zip lock bag of shad that I had as extra fish bait. I mixed them in the dirt and let them rot. I planted watermelons on the mound a week or two later and they have been growing great.

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I took a trip to the lake in early June and the water was way up. I planned to catfish but they were not biting very well. My nephew was with us so I thought I would teach him how to catch bluegill. The first one we caught was a nice hand sized fish. The water was up so high it was covering the lawn in front of our cabin and big bluegill were stacked up eating worms. We caught and cleaned over 70 that next day. Almost every one was big. I have never caught them like that. My fingers were raw but that is a good problem to have when its from cleaning fish.


Here is s couple of pictures.


What’s that thing that looks like a snake trying to steal your fish?


I don’t know how I could miss the snake in the picture.

A great big water snake had his head stuck in the mesh of my fish basket. I’m not very jumpy but I was a bit surprised to see that when i pulled the basket out of the water , lol.


I did something like this when I was kid, except it was only an experiment with 3 pumpkins on one mound. The next day I went out to water them I found a hole in the ground. Something dug up the fish in the first night. The plants were trashed. I felt like I should have saw that coming and was a sucker for believing in the myth. :smile:


Nice basket of fish! I just ran a bunch of those snakes out of here last year. They sure do love fish! In the water for all the world they look like a cotton mouth but thankfully have a skinny tail. The hour glasses are wrong which I could see once I got over the initial shock. I had a guy working here cleaning out the pond and half a dozen started eating fish he had scooped up with mud in the bobcat bucket. I never saw 6 it was more like half that. They do not work alone usually so I’m surprised there was one in your picture. Finally calmed him down enough to come back over and finish the pond.

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AJ don’t you guys have bears and such? Around here we don’t have those worries like that.

Great fishing spot Derby! That is some high water I’m not sure how good I would feel about sleeping there for fear of the water rising more.

There would be a wide range of available nutrients in a fish. If the soil happened to be missing something that is in the fish it could make a dramatic difference. That is where you generally get noticeable response form nutrients besides N- where there is an existing deficiency. I believe Fruitnut is more knowledgeable than I am about general agricultural nutrients. Maybe he will chime in here.


There really isn’t much to comment about. As you’ve pointed out many times anecdotal evidence is unreliable in these types of situations.

One needs randomized and replicated experiments with proper treatments and a lot of soil and plant data to deduce anything about what’s going on.

The top of that rock retaining wall is supposedly about the same elevation as the top of the dam, but yes , kind of makes you nervous when it’s that full and rain is just pouring down. Back to the topic, ( sorry for the misdirection) I also put the remains of catfish next to some of my Nanking cherry bushes.

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