When and Where to Use Liquid Organic Fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizing a garden, the go-to choices for organic gardeners tend to be compost, manure, cover crops or the addition of certain minerals.

But have you considered liquid organic fertilizers? These are growing in popularity due to their ease of use and low risk of harm to plants. And you can even make your own! Here’s the dig on this category of fertilizers, and when to add them to your garden.

Let’s be real: we all want a full, lush garden we can truly love. We want the biggest produce (and yields), the most colorful flowers, the most gorgeous foliage. And that makes us reach for fertilizers.

There’s nothing wrong with that: fertilizing gardens and crops goes back millennia. But while past fertilization techniques tended to use natural materials, chemically processed concoctions began to lace garden shop shelves in the 20th century.

Now there’s a pushback toward more natural means. In an effort to bridge the gap, there are commercially available liquid organic fertilizers. (Although, psst, you can make your own, too - more on that in a moment.)

What Liquid Fertilizers Are Available?

Today’s call for organic but easy-use, inexpensive fertilizers means there are now several categories available. Check labels carefully on these products to ensure that they are used properly and on the right plants.

Why liquid products? Liquid products that are made from natural products tend to be more gentle, are slow-releasing and as they are already diluted, you’ll have less risk of fertilizer “burn” to sensitive plant roots. Look for any of these:

Fish Emulsion – This is a great all-purpose fertilizer for all plants, shrubs and lawns. It is just what it says it is: ground fish. (In liquid form, it’s in a suspension of water.) Fish emulsion gives nice balance of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which most plants require. Use either at the root or directly on foliage.

Liquid Kelp – This type of seaweed is a good nutrient provider for humans and flora alike. Kelp assists plants in using the nutrients in the soil that are already available. Try liquid organic kelp on flowers for brilliant blooms.

Compost Tea – This product can be bought commercially, or concoct your own at home. “Compost tea” is a catch-all term for a brew of compost soaked in water. Use as a spray or pour directly at the root area.

Manure Tea – Making manure tea entails soaking manure in water and using the resultant liquid. If you own an animal farm or keep pets, this may be an option for you. Be sure to use hygienic practices whenever handling animal manure.

When to Use Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizer is appropriate any time, but it’s even more useful under the following conditions:

  • When transplanting to the garden, or any other times of stress for your plants.
  • When plants are under attack. If there are signs of possible disease or pest problems, a foliar application of fertilizer can give plants the boost they need to strengthen and fight off these problems.
  • During times of drought. Responsible gardening means watering only when needed, but during particularly dry times, it is necessary to water. Using liquid fertilizers at this time give an extra bang for your buck.
  • Once a month during the growing season, to help plant and fruit production move along more quickly. Use care when handling any liquid or other fertilizer.
  • Spray foliage early in the morning or at dusk, when the sun is not likely to promptly evaporate and possibly burn the foliage.

If buying your organic liquid fertilizer, make sure to read the directions. Some require dilution so you don’t harm foliage and roots. For compost tea and other home-made liquid fertilizers, add water so they're sprayable and be sure not to over-water.

Adding liquid fertilizer can give you the garden of your dreams. Enjoy!

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