what is SD on Pilgrims fertilizing corn with dead fish?

something tells me that fertilizing each corn plant with a dead fish is not the SOP for the majority of corn growers, whether today or in 17th century. So what was it about the Massachusetts region at the time of Pilgrims that the local Indians had to use this weird approach?

What “weird approach”? Even today, there are types of fertilizer that contain fish.

A single individual dead fish for each plant is a bit odd, perhaps, but it’s fairly standard to have a big barrel full of dead fish in water that you let rot for a while and then scatter over your fields.

This rather confusing quote says the Indians themselves did not use fish as fertilizer, while the Pilgrims did;


"Contrary to popular belief, the Indians did not fertilize their corn with fish or teach the European immigrants to do so. Squanto apparently showed the Pilgrims how to use fish for fertilizer in 1621, but no evidence proves the Indians customarily followed this practice. "

I have heard the Pilgrims also used lobster.

They had lots of fish and lobster available

Fish doesn’t keep unless you salt it. So if you have a giant harvest of fish, more than you can choke down, you can’t save it for later unless you have an equally giant supply of salt. So using surplus fish as fertilizer is a way to transform perishable fish into non-perishable grain.

Lynn Ceci, in an article published in Science in 1975, concluded that the idea that Native Americans fertilized their corn with fish was a myth. In fact, the Pilgrims were taught to do this by their Indian contact Squanto, who had lived in Spain and England previously. He evidently picked up the practice of using fish for fertilizer in Europe and passed it on to the Pilgrims, who assumed it was a local idea.

Just guessing, but it would seem reasonable and logical that people in subsistence situations didn’t necessarily use whole fish, but perhaps small fish not substantial enough for fileting (so called, soup fish) along with the guts, heads, tails, fins, etc… just the discarded remains of larger fish. That’s how we used to do it in our garden anyway, we’d clean the fish and whatever was leftover would get buried or raked into the garden.

Pre-columbian Peruvian indians in the coast did it and there is plenty of historical evidence for it. They would put a kernel in the mouth a fish and “plant it”.

Could we see this evidence?