Fish Fertilizer and Fancy Flowers and Philanthropic Fellas and Fillies

Fish Fertilizer

I was just visiting Gardening Without Skills’ blog, and she was talking about fish emulsion fertilizer.  Well…..a couple weeks ago we went fishing and caught 21 small catfish.  Lucky me, I got to clean all 21.  By the time you finish cleaning a small catfish, almost half the fish is in the garbage pile. 


Eco-friendly woman that I am, the green in me wouldn’t let me throw all the nibblets away without trying to make a batch of fish emulsion.  I used, approximately, one part fish parts (no heads…would probably take forever to decompose), one part shredded leaves (it’s supposed to help mask the odor and absorb the organic nitrogen), and a few spoonfuls of brown sugar (to help build microbes and speed decomposition).  The recipe called for molasses, but I didn’t have any.   Next you add water and stir every day for a couple of weeks while the fish decomposes.

I’ve read stories about maggots (yuck!!) finding their way into the container, so what I did was sat my bucket inside an old pillow case and secured the top so that nothing could get in except oxygen.


That’s what it looked like on day one.  Tuesday will be two weeks, and the only smell it’s giving off is that of something sweet fermenting (hope I didn’t add too much brown sugar).  It did have a kind of funky smell the first couple of days, though.  No fish parts are visible now either.  Next I’ll have to drain the liquid and figure out how I’m supposed to store it.

Fancy Flowers

On to a prettier picture.100_0151

That’s a bloom from the tree peony…and there are a few more to come.


I’m so glad you guys told me what the plant was.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Philanthropic Fellas and Fillies

Earlier in the day I spent a few hours at a work day that Greg Bratton, Master Gardener, and Dinah Ramirez, Coordinator for Healthy South Chicago, had organized for two of their community gardens.  The volunteers were supplied by the University of Chicago Hospitals.  There were about 30 volunteers split between the two gardens. 

Here’s a picture of Caroline  (on the left) who was in charge of the volunteers and one of the young ladies who volunteered.


They did a lot of work: pulling weeds, moving debris, painting the fence, planting seedlings and just generally making things look nice and neat.



While they were relocating these pieces of wood, they ran across two garden snakes.  That was a first for me.  I’ve heard about snakes in peoples’ back yards, my mother-in-law sees them relatively often, but I had never seen one.  I missed out on a perfect Kodak moment because I didn’t have my camera with me when one of the volunteers picked the snake up just behind its head and posed for a picture.  I thought I snapped the shot with my phone, but I’m just a little phone picture taking illiterate and there was no picture when I checked the camera.  When they ran across Snake #2 I had my trusty camera with me.


You’ll have to kind of zoom in to see it. It’s in the upper left quadrant of the space between the closest two railroad ties.  I guess it was resentful of people redecorating its home because it sat there for a long time.

Here’s a zoomed in picture (just for you, Annie’s Granny)


After a long morning of hard work, the volunteers sat down for lunch.


Refreshments were supplied by one of the neighborhood hospitals (fruit trays) and Neil Bosanko from the South Chicago Chamber of Commerce supplied the sandwiches.

100_0143(Left to right:  One of the community residents who helped barbecue the hot dogs; Dominique Bowman, who is starting her own community garden with the help of Gregory Bratton; Dinah Ramirez, she sat up the refreshments and made sure everbody was nourished and hydrated, and Neil Bosanko who supplied the sandwiches).

The volunteer program at U of C is kind of a big deal.  They sent out their camera man to snap a few shots.  Here’s a shot of the ameature photographer taking a picture of the professional photographer.  (We know his job is not in jeopardy).100_0149 

 This guy here gets my pick for “Worker of the Day.”  From the time they got there until they sat down for lunch, whenever I’d see him, he was working.100_0150

 I even ran into one of the ladies (pictured on the left) from my Building Urban Gardens class.  They have a community garden about a mile from where I live.100_0145

Congratulations, Gregory and Dinah, on your successful work day.  Here’s hoping the garden is as successful this year as it has been in the past.

Happy Gardening!!!!


Volunteer efforts are appreciated.

Mr. Gregory (Master Gardener friend) had mentioned getting volunteers to work in some of his community gardens.  The University of Chicago has a volunteer program where you can work in a number of their departments.  I’m sure the garden volunteers are a part of the University of Chicago Botanic Garden area.

University of Chicago Botanic Garden

Wednesday, he stopped by to give me a couple of tomato plants (Aztec…they labeled it for  me already so I don’t have to worry about mislabeling them).  He got them when he was at a training workshop hosted by Growing Power in Milwaukee.   They put my little tomatoes to shame, but they did start in January and I started in March.   He also asked me to try to get a couple of mango seeds going.  I consider it a challenge because the one I tried to grow started growing then died on me. 

Anyway, just before he was leaving he got a call inviting him to or confirming his attendance at the volunteer appreciation banquet at the University of Chicago.  He asked if he could bring a guest.  So, that’s what I did.  We picked up Jewel Dixon, another community gardener, and off we went.

Here’s a picture of Ms. Susan Peterson, Ms. Annie Pope, Ms. Jewel Dixon and Mr. Gregory Bratton.

Ms. Jackson, Ms. Pope, Ms. Dixon, Mr. Braxton

Here’s a picture of the announcer giving out the awards.  Some people were receiving awards for donating up to 1,500 hours of service.   As you may or may be able to see, the room was packed.  The hospital has a lot of volunteers and in appreciation holds this banquet every year.

University of Chicago Apprecitation Banquet

It was a nice dinner.  They served asparagus which I have never eaten before.  It was actually very good.  Reminds me of string beans.  They also had a centerpiece of wheat grass.  Not the sorry looking wheat grass that I was trying to grow.  This was very pretty.


A sophisticated, easy-to-grow (as long as you use enought seeds) centerpiece.  Gregory and Jewel Dixon were happy campers when they got a chance to take a wheat grass centerpiece home with them.

Happy Gardening Volunteering!!