Stories of how Native Americans buried fish in their maize fields to fertilize their soil go way back to grade school. Funny how it all came back when we decided to do the same with fish and crabs we buy at the local harbor. We once bought a whole halibut, fileted this giant on the driveway, and then buried the remains over a foot deep in our garden.
Our dungeness crab season opened up in Nov. and we’ve had several feasts over the past month. We bury the shells and inedible parts a foot deep in the garden, chop it up and work it into the soil, clean up the shovel, and then put fresh soil at least 6 inches above the crab compost lest racoons and other critters should make out the scent.
In 3-6 months, the crab shells, composed primarily of calcium carbonate, nitrogen-rich proteins, and chitin (a cellulose with nitrogen groups) will be transformed into a nutrient-rich white powder. Every now and then, we’ll see a tenacious claw, but even that will eventually soften and decompose!