Exciting new acquisition

bucket of fish heads and guts
It’s a perspective thing — the bucket is over half full.

I haven’t determined exactly how I’m going to incorporate fish waste into my close-to-totally-disorganized garden, but it will have to be dog-digging-proof. I have decided to make a substantial fence. But deciding is short of doing, and we happen to have a puppy who likes to dig — and meanwhile no fence.

Beyond remembered tales of American Indians dumping a fish head or carcass below each corn plant, my fish-in-the-garden story is this: shortly after arriving in Mexico in 2007, I attended an organic gardening class by a massively overweight American woman who happened to be very good at growing things. Actually, exceptionally good. She was also an outstanding cook and baker, and, unh huh, liked to eat. She had a plastic-lined pit in which she made compost tea from fish, and shared her secret source. There was, she said, at the end of a short two-block street that ended at the railroad tracks in Pátzcuaro, a place where they processed fish from the lake. You had to knock on an unmarked door, have containers, explain your request, and then, Hod willing and goods delivered, back out the two blocks, because there was no way to turn your car around.

Sorry, that’s above my pay grade.

She also explained how they cultivated contacts in the daily mercado for composting. They had to they dress down, relate to the locals, develop trusted relationships in order to get the valued vegetable waste. Wow. Heavy social investment.

Reference: there is no way a home gardener can get enough compost from home vegetable waste. You need organic materials from somewhere else.

Anyway, visiting a project of ours on Calle Independencia near the cemetery in Pátzcuaro, I discovered something amazing: garbage trucks appear there every afternoon. Guys with hand trucks and 55-gallon barrels go into the market and bring out the waste. I showed up day after day, with a plastic tub like the one I bought here, and soon they wanted to know before they went into the market: was there was anything in particular I favored? Onion greens? Carrot tops? It was deliciously ironic.

But it got better.

One day, a little truck pulled up. Fish waste. From the fish place. You know, the one where you had do a little ritual of obscure door-knocking and reverse-driving. I said to the garbage kid (remember, I’m an old fart, so everyone is a kid), fish is OK in the garden, eh? and he enthusiastically agreed and personally took my plastic tub to the truck and proudly filled it with fish heads and bones and guts, and placed it in the back of my several-years-old Toyota 4Runner.

Fortunately, I had a plastic-rubber floor liner. Because, in his enthusiasm, the kid had maximally-filled my plastic tub. And despite my caution, over the first tope — speed bump — I heard the flop of a fish carcass. On the next another. No matter. I could always hose that stuff off.

The problem arose — as today — when I realized that I had arrived home shortly before dinner time and actually had to do something with this treasure. In Mexico, it involved feverishly turning over my extensive compost pile, inserting fish waste, re-covering and weighting down plastic sheeting so our animals couldn’t get into it. It worked. And apparently fertilized magnificently, but by then we were the hell out of Mexico. Another story that I probably won’t tell here.

Meanwhile, here, a couple concrete blocks over the bucket this evening. Tomorrow? Stay tuned 😉

Thanks for reading this. Gardening is weird at times, no?

2 comments

  1. arte says:

    you know how radio programs occasionally warn that an upcoming story “may not be appropriate for children”? perhaps you should consider a “may not be appropriate preprandially” category for photographs; especially since most are so scenic and sweet (dogs running on beaches, etc). just saying.

    • Doug says:

      Well, if you’d been fishing and prepared your catch for dinner, you’d be looking at the same, no? Reminds me when my sister and niece visited Uruguay a few years ago. They wouldn’t go into the carnicería because it was “so gross” to see meat in the raw 😉

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