Liquid Plant Food for Crops

Overview

Liquid plant food is incorporated into crop soil to bring vegetables and fruit to their optimum size and flavor. Although crops can grow without fertilizer, vegetables and fruits benefit greatly from regular application of plant food. Liquid plant food enriches the soil and help maintain proper levels of nitrogen, potassium and soluble phosphates. Liquid plant food comes in different types, but has many benefits and considerations to think about when it comes to feeding your vegetables and fruits. Home gardeners must also understand that they have to be conscious about the impact of liquid plant food applications on the environment.

Time Frame

Liquid plant food application has a variety of ranges, depending on the brand, the crop, and whether you choose to apply the minimum or maximum amount. The time frame can range from one application every couple of weeks to one application every five to six months. Do not over-apply plant food as it can harm or burn your plants. Liquid plant food for crops works quickly and efficiently, with plants showing improvement within a couple days, but the effects don't last very long unless you consistently reapply.

Features

Nitrogen, which occurs naturally in your gardening soil, is a major component of liquid plant food. Bacteria convert the nitrogen into ammonium nitrate, which is easier for plant roots to absorb. Many plants benefit from larger amounts of nitrogen incorporated into the growing area, especially after years of repeated garden site planting because the amounts become depleted. Potassium toughens up foliage and strengthens the crop roots, working with the nitrogen. The two other main features of liquid plant food are potassium and phosphate. Potassium improves the durability and resistance of your crops, making them less susceptible to disease. Phosphate mainly works under the surface, improving the soil quality and deepening the roots for better anchor and growth.

Types

Two types of liquid plant food can be used--synthetic and organic. Synthetic fertilizer is manufactured chemically, engineered to immediately release nutrients and quickly penetrate the soil. The downside is that the results don't last very long, so the food must be reapplied consistently, and it can burn your crops if not applied exactly as the directions explain. Organic liquid plant food is made from once-living organisms and their byproducts (such as fish, manure, compost and bonemeal), and breaks down more slowly than synthetic liquid plant food. The downside to organic plant foods is that they tend to have strong odors, such as fish emulsion or manure. You can even create your own organic plant food by adding manure or compost to a bucket of water and letting it sit overnight before spreading around your crops. Consider using liquid starter food in early spring for your crop seedlings.

Environmental Concerns

Over-application of liquid plant food (particularly synthetic) causes concern among environmentalists, as the runoff penetrates into the ground, encouraging algae growth and bacteria. Not only can this kill plant life, it can damage ecosystems. The best way to control these problems is by testing your crop soil to see exactly what nutrients your crops need, then applying as needed. Avoid planting fertilized crops on a slope, where water is more susceptible to washing away the fertilizer.

Considerations

Liquid plant food for crops is one of the most expensive types of plant food. When choosing what type of plant food you want to use it is important to consider the current condition of your crops, your budget, and how much you want to put into the application. Using liquid plant food for your crops is not recommended if you don't want to put in gardening time for fertilizing every couple of weeks. As a home gardener, choosing between synthetic or organic liquid feed can be a serious decision. You must decide if you want to apply chemical feed to fruits and vegetables that you ingest. And you must consider whether you will be bothered by a foul odor organic liquid feed may emit (although the odor fades within about a week).

Keywords: applying liquid fertilizer, growing crops, liquid fertilizing crops

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.