Of Anchovies And Papaya Trees

Note: That is NOT my papaya tree. Merely a stock image. XD

I have a papaya tree growing outside my house. It’s the cutest little tree you will ever see and I simply adore it. It’s growing great, perfect and oh so beautifully…

…up until now that is.

You see, last Sunday, while I was doing some reading at home, a little problem was slowly brewing in the background. It was a wonderful day with sunshine and all that, so I couldn’t possible have imagined a crime taking place in my very front yard that morning.

My neighbor was fertilizing his trees with some dried anchovy heads. (Its popular to fertilize plants like this where I come from) Its great nutrients for the soil and even greater nutrients for the plants, so naturally, it was indeed a god send for his plants. The problem arose however when he discovered he had a little too many anchovy heads and decided to ‘help’ my little papaya plant grow a little faster. Now you may be thinking:

How can you be mad? Are you so cruel as to turn down your neighbor’s good intentions? Are you a fool? So prideful in your plant that you cannot see the benefit in his good deed?

His deed was indeed laced in good intentions so I didn’t actually feel irritated at all when I found out about it. In fact, I was actually not very mad at him to tell the truth, albeit a bit sad for my plant.

Now, onto the explanation:

You see, dried anchovy heads are indeed good for the soil. It brings nutrients and minerals to the ground and thus lets the plant grow healthily with an abundance of ‘food’ around it. The issue here however is that dried anchovy heads contain high salt content meaning that the amount thrown into the soil must be measured so as not to oversaturate the soil with salt.

By increasing the soil salinity above the suitable level, osmosis can occur in the reverse order, causing the water in the plant to move out. This causes dehydration to the plant and if left for too long can cause the plant to dry out and die. My neighbor probably wasn’t informed about this, and so out of his good heart, decided to put a large amount of it into the soil.

You may be wondering, how many anchovy heads are too much? Well, I don’t know. All I know is, you don’t put seven handfuls of anchovy heads into the ground, that’s overkill or rather overfertilization.

I only found out later that evening that the little ‘mishap’ had taken place and sought to clean it out, removing what quantity of anchovy heads I could possible get my hands on. The damage however had already been done as I found out while I was removing the heads. Water had already been poured onto the soil causing the salt to leech into the ground. Transferring out what I could into some other potted plants, I had reduced the amount of anchovy’s by about five handfuls.

Next, I reached out for damage control. I poured buckets upon buckets of water into the soil in an attempt to dilute more salt and thus reduce the salinity of the earth. After around five buckets or so, I figured that was enough. Hopefully, it was.

I did talk to my neighbor about it later on and he did admit that he wasn’t informed about the problem with the salt in the anchovy heads. I didn’t hold it against him, after all, he was only doing what he thought was best for my plant. People make mistakes, it happens to everyone all the time, no point holding a grudge on such small minute issues.

Anyways, that leads me to the end result now. My plant is still alive and kicking, it however had lost about 5 leaves. (and that’s a lot of leaves for my still tiny tiny little plant) They had all turned pale yellow in the past two days and needless to say, had fallen off from the tree. Now all I can do is to try to dilute the salt more with water and hope for it to continue growing big and healthy.

All in a day’s work for a green horned gardener.

Written by HoiHoiSoi

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