When to Use Liquid Fertilizers in Your Backyard Garden

When to Use Liquid Fertilizers in Your Backyard Garden

An article by Travis Key from Lazy Dog Farm

Our previous blog described several ways to use AgroThrive liquid fertilizers in your backyard garden. We gave recommendations for using the simple 5-gallon bucket method, a siphon injector, a tank injector, and foliar feeding through a hand-pump or backpack sprayer. If you missed that blog, you can see it here.

Now that we’ve covered how you can give these great liquid fertilizers to your plants, let’s explain when you should feed your plants with AgroThrive General Purpose or AgroThrive Fruit & Flower fertilizer.

Fertilizing Young Seedlings 

When growing your own vegetable transplants from seeds, it’s important to use a sterile seed starting mix. This ensures that your small seedlings won’t have any fungal or bacterial diseases as they grow to transplanting size. The downside of using a sterile mix is that it has no nutrient content. Seeds don’t need any nutrients to germinate. But once the seedlings have their second set of leaves (called “true leaves), they’ll need some basic nutrients.

Properly fertilizing seedlings is the key to having beautiful, healthy transplants for vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and more. The most important thing to note here is to not overdo it. Seedlings can be easily “burnt” by giving them too much fertilizer, especially when using synthetic fertilizers. Thankfully, AgroThrive fertilizers are much more forgiving in this aspect and won’t burn small seedlings.

Once seedlings have their second set of leaves, we recommend feeding them at least twice a week. You’ll want to make sure you use a low concentration for seedlings — 1 ounce of AgroThrive per gallon of water is usually sufficient. Apply the solution with a watering can or spray bottle at least a couple times a week. This frequent feeding will help promote a strong root system and healthy foliage so that you have a strong transplant for your backyard garden. 

Soil Drench Prior to Planting 

I’m a big believer in using a pre-plant fertilizer. Except for okra and cowpeas, we use a pre-plant fertilizer on everything we plant in our backyard garden. This process involves applying fertilizer along the intended planting row before or at the time of planting. Granular fertilizer is a great option here, but you can also apply AgroThrive fertilizers in this way. We like to refer to this as a “soil drench.”

To do this you’ll want to create a solution of AgroThrive in a bucket or watering can, depending on your scale. I’d recommend a few ounces per gallon for a pre-plant solution. You’ll then water the intended row location with fertilizer solution. If you’re planting in a raised bed using an intensive planting method like square foot gardening, water the entire bed with the fertilizer solution.

Using a soil drench will ensure your soil has the nutrients that plants need as they start to grow. And by using a biologically active fertilizer like AgroThrive, you’ll also be feeding the microorganisms and beneficial fungi in your soil. Not only are you feeding your plants, but you’re creating a wonderful soil ecosystem that plants love. 

Feeding Plants as They Grow 

Unless you have the most amazing soil in your backyard garden (and most of us don’t), you’ll probably need to feed your plants as they grow and mature. The frequency at which you’ll need to do this will vary by vegetable. We’ll have more blogs in the future with specific fertilizer recommendations for certain vegetables. But a good rule of thumb is to feed your plants every 2-3 weeks as they grow.

If your plants look dark green and healthy, you might only want to feed them every four weeks. Be observant and your plants will tell you what they need. Yellow plant leaves are usually caused by two things — too much water or not enough nutrients. If you’re not overwatering or receiving too much rain, your plants are probably hungry.

For established plants in the backyard garden, we’ll usually mix 3-4 ounces of AgroThrive fertilizer per gallon of water. We can then feed via a watering can or an injector as mentioned in our previous blog. If using a pitcher or a watering can to apply the fertilizer, pour it in a ring around the base of the plants. This will ensure the roots can access the nutrients more efficiently.

The Most Important Thing to Consider

As we’ve outlined above, it’s important to consider the size and stage of the plant before fertilizing. A seedling will need a much lower concentration of liquid fertilizer than an established plant. Also, you don’t want to make your soil drench too “hot,” especially if you’re direct-seeding vegetables. This can reduce or completely inhibit germination in some cases.

Start with a smaller concentration and slowly increase that concentration as plants grow. Also, be observant. There’s not a one-size-fits-all fertilization frequency for everyone. Healthy plants should have dark green leaves. If they don’t, feed them more frequently with AgroThrive liquid fertilizers and watch them respond!

Thousands of gardeners have been tuning in to The Lazy Dog Farm YouTube channel where Travis covers a variety topics ranging from how to successfully start seedlings to how to make a flavorful hotsauce that packs a punch. Accompanied by his wife Brooklyn and their two boys, the gardens on their 2 acre homestead in southwest Georgia are always filled with a wide variety of vegetables that are enjoyed fresh or preserved for later.


  • Bob

    Is there reliable siphon adapters that can be used with a hose to fertilize plants.

  • Rob @ ShadyAcreFarm

    Travis is the best at explaining gardening methods and reviewing products.

  • Gary Foster

    Excellent article, I now want to subscribe to more articles.

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