Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Global Warming Wednesday: Wormsh*t and fish guts

I've just now realized that I published last week's post without a full title--proof of just how drained I was. Things are better this week, although now I'm recovering from our road trip. I felt a little guilty when I realized that we drove over 600 miles on "Bike to Work Day." Of course, our car is low emissions and gets good gas mileage, so it could have been worse (e.g., flying for even one of us would have resulted in more pollution than all three of us driving).

Right now we have a bunch of seedlings around the house, and I am noticing that they definitely need some plant food. We are not being completely hard-nosed about growing organic--certainly not to certification standards--but neither do we want to dump a bunch of chemicals on our plants, so I've done a little research about what to feed my indoor friends.

One article describes the properties of such fun items as cottonseed meal (not gross, but also not what I need), blood meal (ew, not sure I'd consider my vegetables vegetarian if I used this), manure ('nuff said), and fish emulsion. That last one is the most promising one on the list, but I'm not crazy about the idea of my house smelling like a fish-rendering plant, even if "the smell dissipates within a day or two."

I did a little more research on this, nonetheless, and found an interesting product: Drammatic Liquid Fish Plant Food. More than just a fish emulsion, it is an innovative way of using the extra bits of fish that would otherwise be thrown out. The company has a fish-cleaning station at a marina in Wisconsin where people who have been fishing for fun can clean their fish and the leftovers are then used for plant food--instead of getting tossed out.

So I was very tempted to order up some of this plant food and just deal with the smell, when I found another product: TerraCycle. This is a company started by a couple of Princeton students who gathered food waste from residences and fed it to worms. This is a great way of composting indoors without odor (or so I'm told--we haven't actually tried it) and one of the byproducts is a very rich compost tea. They bottle this (in plastic soda bottles that people collect for them), and there you have instant plant food. Their product is available in some stores fairly near me, so I will be making a trip out in the next couple days to procure my first batch.

One thing I want to draw people's attention to is that TerraCycle is currently being sued by Scotts MiracleGro Company. If you read through the information, it's clearly ridiculous--the contention is that TerraCycle's products are packaged to look like MiracleGro, based on the use of yellow and green and a circle. Never mind that the shades are completely different, as is the circle's prominence on the label. Plus, given that my main goal here is to avoid anything like MiracleGro, this sure isn't a case of TerraCycle fraudulently getting my business.

Now we'll just have to see if plant food can cover for the myriad other mistakes I'm sure I've made.

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