Organic gardening is preferred by those who are more concerned in producing quality crops compared to producing large quantities that are mediocre in taste and less wholesome. Organic liquid fertilizer is known to improve soil nutrient content as well as soil conditions.
There are different types of organic liquid fertilizers that you can produce on your own. If you do not have enough time, you can also buy them at local gardening stores at your convenience. Organic liquid fertilizer is different from other organic fertilizer in granulated, powdered, or pellet form as the nutrients are readily available for the plants and can give your crops an instant boost when needed. This can be most beneficial, especially in organic container gardening as nutrients are frequently washed out with every watering.
Types of Organic Liquid Fertilizers
Here are some common organic liquid fertilizers that you can use for organic gardening, and even for container plants:
Liquid manure organic liquid fertilizer is made from manure that came from cows, horses, sheep, and even poultry. Rabbit manure can also be used for making fertilizer as it contains the highest amount of nitrogen.
To make: Select manure that has been standing for a long period of time. Never use a fresh batch as it will produce a concoction that is not suitable for plants. To test the manure, wear gloves, and touch the manure. If it is firm, dry, and crumbly in texture, the manure has “aged” and ready for use. Brew the manure by taking in pieces of manure into a net bag typically used for onions. Take in a large garbage bin, drilled with a hole on opposite ends an inch or two from the top. Tie the net on a stick and hang the stick inside the container by placing opposite ends through the drilled holes. Place enough water to submerge the net and cover the container to prevent flies from infesting the solution. Let the solution brew for a month, making it a point to pass the netting up and down the solution a couple of times daily.
To use: This concoction has high amounts of nitrogen that can potentially burn your plants upon contact. A diluted mix of one part brewed liquid fertilizer, and one part water is ideal for feeding and foliar spraying. The manure that you have used to brew your organic liquid fertilizer can still be used as a side-dress to your plants.
Fish parts that cannot be used for human consumption can also be used to make organic liquid fertilizer. Fish heads, fish guts, fish gills, and even fins and scales can be used for creating an emulsion that is rich in nitrogen as well as substantial amounts of soluble phosphorus and potassium. This is different from fish meal that is used to condition your soil.
How to make: fresh fish must be processed into compost inside a separate 5-gallon container. Add in fish parts up to half of the bucket and add in leaves, straw, sawdust, and an ounce of unsulfured molasses. Allow it to break down for 1-2 weeks, only opening the bucket to every two days to stir. This is to stimulate air circulation to promote bacterial growth. Brew and use the same way as liquid manure fertilizer.
This fertilizer is commonly used as an amendment for fish emulsion because of its low nitrogen and phosphorus content. Its high level of potassium is seen more like a growth stimulant than as a fertilizer. Seaweed is beneficial to plants because of numerous trace elements such as carbohydrates and several growth hormones that can stimulate plant growth.
How to make: Collect some seaweed and rinse them well before putting inside a container. Rinsing is important as seaweed often comes with salt from the sea. Chop them down to little pieces and fill a container of your choice half-way up with seaweed. Fill the container with water up to the top and allow the seaweed to decompose for 2-3 months. The liquid will be highly concentrated and brown in color.
To use: your organic liquid fertilizer must be diluted to a solution of equal parts water and liquid fertilizer for proper use. This fertilizer can be used as a 23-hour soak for seeds before planting to stimulate germination. It can also be applied directly to the soil to stimulate root growth. Spraying the solution on leaves increases chlorophyll content of the leaves and discourages some insects from harming your plants.
Storing Organic Liquid Fertilizer
Organic liquid fertilizers for container gardening are used only as a supplement and not to be used to improve the condition and nutrient quality of the soil. These are just instant and short-term solutions for container gardening and also as a support for your plants when transplant needs to be delayed due to weather conditions. The concentrated solutions from plants can be stored for a few months in a cool, dry place, but fish emulsion and manure tea should be used immediately. The standard application is 2-3 times a week. During the active growing season, decrease the application to 2-3 times every other week.
Advantages of Organic Liquid Fertilizers
Because the organic liquid fertilizer is already in liquid form, it is readily available for your plants. You do not need to give your plants some watering down to make the fertilizer ready for plant absorption. The nutrients will not be washed out of the plants with every watering because the fertilizer is almost instantly absorbed by the plant.
Liquid organic fertilizer contains essential microorganisms that can help prevent as well as fight diseases that commonly plague container plants. Naturally made, the fertilizer does not contain harmful chemicals that can prevent the growth of these bacteria. With proper preparation, you can have up to a billion live bacteria in your solution. Other beneficial bacteria found in your liquid fertilizer will help promote the decomposition of organic material found in your soil, giving your plants better nutrients.
Liquid fertilizers need not be applied ad frequently compared to chemical fertilizers. Application in spring will be enough to nourish your plants up to fall and winter.
Disadvantages of Organic Liquid Fertilizer
As good as liquid fertilizers can be, they also have some disadvantages that you have to consider.
Liquid organic fertilizer is expensive. You need a lot of raw, organic materials to come up with just a bucket of liquid fertilizer.
It takes time to produce a substantial amount of liquid fertilizer.
Liquid fertilizer does not store particularly well. Plant-based liquid fertilizers can last for a few months, while liquid organic fertilizer obtained from animals need to be used immediately.
Unlike their solid counterparts, liquid fertilizers are only used as a quick, short-term solution for plants and do not improve the quality of potting soil in container gardening.
General Tips for Buying Liquid Organic Fertilizer
When buying organic liquid fertilizer, ask where it was made from. Also, check for the nutrients found in your liquid fertilizer. Usually, organic fertilizers come with three numbers, such as 10-10-10. This means that the fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium, respectively.
You can also find a great selection of liquid fertilizers online. I have been purchasing a Fish & Kelp Blend from Amazon that works fantastically.
Ask from some advice from your local garden store what type of liquid organic fertilizer would be best for the type of plant you are growing. Most fertilizers available have directions on how to use for standard ground gardening. Ask some specifications on how to apply them for your container plants to prevent over- or under-fertilizing.
It would also be important to tell the supplier for what purpose you would your organic liquid fertilizer. Some fertilizers are for foliage growth, flower production, and maintaining fruit growth. Do your research on the type of fertilizer you would want for your plant before purchasing them in stores.