What's in that Bucket?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Homer All Purpose Bucket
Betcha can't guess what's in that bucket. You know -- THAT bucket. That Home Depot five gallon Homer bucket located to your immediate right. I have about ten of these things all over the house because, well, they're useful for holding, you know, "stuff."

In fact, the simple "Homer" bucket just might be the greatest invention ever. I know Home Depot didn't invent it, but they've put a nice patent on it with the Homer logo. They're cheap too, which is another plus. And, they hold stuff. Thing is -- this particular Homer bucket holds something quite special. Can you guess what it might be?

Venus and "The Bucket"
Home Depot stuff? No. My brother-in-law was using this particular bucket to store cat litter, but that's long since gone. Parts for PVC cages? Nope! Gardening tools? Guess again. And, keep in mind, this bucket is covered for a reason. The stuff in this bucket is highly volatile. Neighborhood cats are drawn to this bucket by an irresistible force.

Now that's the last hint that I'm going to provide for you before Venus pulls the top off this thing. Sara Stout knows what's in this bucket. She's the one that gave us this grand idea. She's the one who urged the wife that is Venus to drive all the way into South Sacramento (South Sac) and visit that "special place."

Finding Nemo
So, what's in that bucket? Well -- I'll tell you. What? You thought I was going to keep it a secret through this entire blog post? My friends, that would be cruel. Besides, I've got too big a mouth to keep anything a secret for very long. Do you remember the old joke about the three modern forms of communication? The three modern forms of communication are: telephone, telegraph and tell Bill.

There's some truth to that equation.

My friends, the stuff in this bucket is a bit of gardening gold. It's a treasure for tomato plants. It's plunder for peppers, a bonus for basil, opulence for eggplants and pure swag for squash. It is: fish guts. It is also fish heads. There are some fish tails down in that bucket. There's fish skins, fish entrails, just about every part of the fish that isn't sold at your local fish market.

Garden Gold
And it is this five gallon Homer bucket full of fish parts that is currently stinking up a storm in the Bird Back 40. We're going to let it "age" a day or two like a fine wine. When we finally take the top off this thing today, my neighbors are in for a rather putrid surprise.

I know what you're thinking. Why on God's Green Earth are we "roasting" a five gallon bucket full of fish parts? Finally gone off the deep end have we? Time for a little white jacket with straps, perhaps? A long rest and lots of medication?

Heirloom Tomato Starter Plants
Any heirloom tomato grower worth his or her salt knows exactly what this bucket is for. Those fish parts are going into the bottom of a hole that will soon hold an heirloom tomato starter plant. Every grower has his or her little secrets for soil supplements when it comes to growing great tomatoes, but the verdict on fish parts is darn near universal: this is the good stuff.

Cynthia Sandberg from Love Apple Farms in Santa Cruz raves about the use of fish heads in her tomato garden. In her words? "The fish head slowly decomposes, feeding both nitrogen and calcium to the tomato plant." Those who celebrate the day of April 20th also use this trick. Except, they're not growing tomatoes. Sara Stout claims the use of fish heads resulted in end-of-season tomato stems as thick as small trees -- and a bounty of a harvest to boot.

Bring on the Basil!
And so, my friends, I'm not too proud nor ashamed to try a little something new in the garden. If the gardening world says "add fish parts," I add fish parts. Some even suggest we add crushed eggshells. Others prefer worm castings. Adding nightcrawlers, like you find in you average bait and tackle shop, is also recommended.

Why not? It's tomato planting season, people. Bring on Nemo and his pals. It's time to get digging in the dirt.

1 comment:

Saskia said...

Eeewwww!! I follow the Love Apple Farms instructions for tomato planting, too, but minus the fish heads. More power to you if you can stomach it. I can barely tolerate the smell of fish emulsion for regular fertilizing, and I imagine that's mild compared to a bucket full of hot guts. It's worm castings and powdered egg shells for me! :)