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Growing Tomatoes- Foliar Feeding Tomatoes With Kwazar Backpack Spayer

A backpack sprayer that works is one that is a loved on a farm! We have all had experiences with sprayers that have a hard time working correctly! Thats why its worth taking the time to learn about Kwazar Sprayers! Kwazar Sprayers are Soil Friends choice for sprayers you can trust to rely on.

We are farmers and know when its time to spray its time to spray! The sprayer better work and have minimal loss of the product we use because its cost our operation money for loss. Notice the fine mist perfect for foliar feeding tomatoes in the high tunnel!

Foliar Feeding– Can enhance nutritional content in vegetables and provide growers with the ability to maintain and control plants for key physiological stages for a flavorful harvest.

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Do The Grocery Retailers You Shop At Have The Best Produce Selection?

soil friends fresh produce

fresh produce soil friends

Organic food is great for the fact of environmentally clean crop production but is it the most nutrient dense produce we can consume? Are retailers catching on to this and is organic produce the solution for a healthiest life you can live? A few things to think about follow, this just gives you more to think into than just labels. Know your farmers and make sure the retailers you shop at do also!

• Liquid Fish- Primary form of fertilizer for many organic growers and what are people say about eating fish? (High mercury and metal, ocean pollution)
• Raw- cannot be cleaned (Other than environmental issues what about sanitation from production from tank transfers, processing etc.)
• Foliar feeding gets it on the fruit- Organic method of feeding the plant through the leaves

To be honest I see so much wrong and not healthy in food ingredients that this topic is particularly hard to pin-point what isn’t wrong! We should focus on what can we put in our body that is good for us! The only food label that should be on the table is a soil analysis from the farmer. Some Retailers are catching onto this and  are experiencing less food waste because quality vegetables do not rot. This mindset instead of what not to have and what we should ban, how about what we should add?

“Farmers With Healthy Soils Yield Vegetables With Superior Levels Of Nutrition, Flavor, and Storage Capability” 

• Extracts from fruits (Red Grapes, Berry’s- cancer fighting anti-angiogentic therapy, doesn’t give cancer a chance to grow)
• Cut down obesity rate- (Cancer likes fat areas) -Based on Dr. W.L ideas
• Energy and mental clarity- What lifestyle do you want to live?

The ones eating true health food typically are shopping around the main aisles of the grocery store. Raw foods don’t have much labeling to worry about! Keep in mind it is about nutrient density and getting the right amount of anionic minerals in your diet.

• Nutrient dense crops that are grown in an environmentally clean manner
• Raw Foods
• Keep researching and educating yourself

Grocery inventory  information can be found from Dr. William Li

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Raised Garden Beds- Properly Compost Your Beds

Tomatoes growing in raised garden beds
Tomatoes growing in raised garden beds

When starting seeds in a garden or planting transplants, you always want a nice seed bed. Compaction of the soil is the enemy in your garden, so remember that when making your raised garden beds. There is no right or wrong way of making raised garden beds, some vegetable growers prefer to make raised beds from wooden frames and others simply mound the soil and compost.

If you need to bring compost into your raised garden beds to fill them, make sure you are using compost that has been properly composted. Compost is not always ideal for growing vegetables, if it was not properly composted it may cause salt and disease problems. This type of compost is toxic and often kill or slow the growth of your plants.

What is compost? -Oxidated decomposition of a mix of organic matter

Using a thermal compost pile is the best compost for growing vegetables in raised garden beds. The compost pile should not reach high temperatures and be turned on a regular basis. When the temperature of the compost pile heats up the organisms are going so fast they will consume all of the oxygen. When your turn the compost pile you will slow the organisms down by keeping temperatures down.

“If the compost pile is not aerobic the entire time, don’t use it”

Using aerobic compost will help build soil structure by increasing water holding capability, preform proper nutrient cycling while suppressing insect and disease causing organisms. If the compost pile is not properly managed with the right amount of moisture (50% moisture) and oxygen it is of no benefit for gardening. When you purchase compost for your garden notice most places will have compost with many dark areas. This is an indication that the environment in the compost pile was anaerobic, we want soil life and dead compost is not going to cycle nutrients to the plants as they need it.

 All of the greenhouse tomato growers we work with grow tomatoes on raised beds and cover the soil with black plastic. The loose soil in the beds allow the plants to start out vigorously for many reasons, soil without compaction is aerated and that means soil life. The soil is doing the proper nutrient cycling and feeding the plant what it needs with available nutrients at the right times.

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Soil Farmers- What Are You Buying At The Farmers Market?

growing bell peppers

growing bell peppers

Soil- The break down of bed rock into mineral components  sand, silk, clay

What are soil farmers?

Soil farmers understand that the soil is alive and certain applications can stop the biology in the soil.  The applications from herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and inorganic fertilizers is killing off a chunk of soil biology each application. When the biology in the soil is not properly working do you think farmers are getting the ample amount of nutrients in their crops? The farmers with these type of applications will not have the highest quality vegetables at the farmers market, you can guarantee that!

Vegetables can be 1,000 times more nutritious from soil farmers 

 Local food is great but don’t get to caught up in the fact that local and fresh are the only option. You can buy local and fresh from a soil farmer who has the goal of growing produce in a soil biological manner. In the soil the bacteria, fungi, arthropods and beneficial nematodes that are used to feed plants must have the proper soil environment in order to function and preform proper nutrient cycling. This is done by farmers who use practices to always maintain and improve soil life, many practices in agriculture are not geared towards growing the most nutrient dense foods. So next time your shopping at the farmers market remember that.

Tilling does reduce Organic Matter from carbon from the surface area mixed in. The bacteria have a party and blow of 60-70% Organic Matter as CO2

Many small changes in management practices from farmers can help grow the high nutritional crops but it takes management. Don’t just buy vegetables from farmers markets because they are a farmer, ask them questions to learn if they are familiar with soil farming. Soil life is how nutrients move into the crop, when you take a step back at a soil farmers perspective  you notice.

“Plants are just energy conversion factories “

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Growing Tomatoes with Heirloom Seeds

[vslider name=”heirloom_slider”]

Seeds are being started in the greenhouse for commercial vegetable growers and its time for garden ideas to be planned for your vegetable garden. One of the best garden ideas can come from the learning about heirloom seeds. When planning on growing tomatoes, selecting the tomato varieties to grow can be overwhelming with all of the varieties on the market. We are planning to continue making these choices easier for tomato growers by doing research on tomato varieties with Integrated Soil and Plant Technologies. The slider above are photos from past research trials by ISP Technologies on heirloom tomatoes.

We recommend the following heirloom seeds for growing tomatoes

1. Tiffen Mennonite

2. Big Rainbow

3. Ananas Noir

4. Great White

5. Dagma’s Perfection

6. Livingstone Favorite

When growing tomatoes with heirloom seeds the seeds can be saved when the fruit matures. The seeds can be taken from organic food and in this instance for growing tomatoes next season. What is great about growing tomatoes with heirloom seeds in your vegetable garden is the chance that quality will increase over the years without increasing production cost. The most important part for success when growing tomatoes is having properly managed garden soil. The garden soil should be tested and balanced properly for growing tomatoes. Each year the tomato varieties will have a chance to adapt to the microclimate they are grown.

 Taking the approach to permaculture starts with growing heirloom seeds in healthy garden soil to ensure disease resistance. When growing a vegetable garden with heirloom seeds, make sure to continue building soil fertility with organic farming methods. A garden free of diseases and pathogens will allow growers and gardeners to harvest from vegetable gardens without the use of chemicals  and will ensure fruit for the seed saving process. The flavor from growing tomatoes in healthy garden soil from heirloom seeds is the answer for flavorful and nutrient dense food.

Planting  a vegetable garden with heirloom seeds fits well with permaculture. What is permaculture?

“Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design that develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems ” source-

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10 Tips for Growing A Nutritious Garden

Growing a healthy garden is fun! Home grown produce taste great with high levels of nutrition and of higher quality than most produce that people are familiar with. All food is not created equal, why not take a shot at growing a garden to feed your family the best food? You can significantly increase your nutrient intake by growing a garden. Here are a few steps you should take in consideration when planting your dream garden. The amount of food you can preserve through the season can not only improve your health but will save money on your grocery bill. Healthy vegetables comes from stress free plants.

1. Take a Soil Test- The most common price we are familiar with is around $25 for a soil test. Thit will give you a proper indication on your soil characteristics and soil type, you can get a more complex extraction test but for a home garden we don’t recommend that. What crops are you growing? Once the soil is understood then we can balance the fertility and make decisions accordingly.

2. Balanced Soils are Best- Always remember Soil eats first, make sure your materials added to your garden are properly broken down. Plants that start vigorously often have higher yields, the soil needs to balanced properly in order for rapidly availble nutrients to the plant. In large gardens and produce fields it is different to find a large enough source for compost in large quantities while remaining economical. Liquid compost teas can be an answer to replace large amounts of spread compost.

“Soil Eats First”


3. Critical Stress Periods– Transplanting vegetables is stressful on plants. Make sure your transplant solution is higher phosphorus (N-P-K), Phosphorous will help with root growth. You want the soil to be biologically active before planting. We also teach an educational approach on biological soil activators but that is an entire topic of its self. Ask us about “Restore 3G”. this should be done in the fall before planting.

4. Are We Growing Produce or Foliage? If selling produce for profit or storing if for the family is our a priority it is important to understand the plant sap ratio. The plant will go through higher phases at different times of plant development higher in a vegetative growth with large amounts of nitrogen in the sap. At other times the mineral content in the plants sap will be used for reproduction, fruit set and vegetable growth. Be careful of nitrogen in flower instances, many times after thunderstorms you will notice your plants aborted their flowers. You need nutrition in the plants sap in order to promote reproduction and fruit set. We need to use our foliage as solar panels to collect energy while creating the proper node spacing to for fruit development growth areas.

“Watch the New Growth”


Do We Want to Set Fruit?

tomato program sets fruit
Healthy Plants

5. Is Boron Properly Balanced in your Garden- This one is dangerous? Although its good to have Boron in your soil this should be taken lightly. If you want to a garden or produce field with proper reproduction. Reproduction in vegetable production is how you will be able to get more produce off each plant. Think of this example : Calcium is a pick-up truck and boron is the driver, the truck will not move without the driver. Boron will help move nutrients in your garden. If your feeding your garden plant foods you want to make sure it is being put to use. Remember more is not always better! Don’t apply Boron unless you are sure you know what amounts your soils need and the crops you are growing require. Otherwise plan on a bull dozer showing up to fix your problem, its that serious.

6. Irrigation- It may sound strange to hear but we would rather it not rain on our produce plants. Many gardens often associate a hot day with soaking the soil and the foliage of the tomato plant so it will take up water and grow tons of tomatoes, the soil should be the only area receiving water. Water bouncing from soil is the scenario for disease and spreading it across the garden. Drip irrigation is the best method for growing a garden.

7. Save Water in your Garden but don’t Explode your Drip Tape- Water should be taken seriously as a garden can consume a large amount of water. Put the water were its needed, no since in watering the weeds. Drip tape can be used with a garden hose attachment but make sure you don’t spend the entire summer exploding your drip lines and wasting water. The drip tape requires lower of water pressure and will explode if levels are to high. After selecting the many options of emitter spacing water will drip in a uniform passion near the roots of the plants without moving soil. A pressure regulator can be attached to your irrigation area to control the water pressure.

ISP Solutions to Sustainable farming
Solutions to Sustainable farming

7. Feed Your Garden- Your plants require nutrition also. The quote ” you are what you eat” is the same in vegetable production. If your plants are not able to eat from fertile soil with the availability of proper amounts of vitamins and minerals your produce will taste terrible, is of lower quality and the largest problem of all it will be robed of nutrition. This will create an environment for bugs and diseases. You know that bugs cannot properly digest sugars, so high brix produce is not a preference for bugs.

8. Know that Healthy Plants Grow Healthy Food- Make sure you have a source of calcium in your garden levels of calcium will drive nutrients and make them available in your garden, not only will it do that but calcium is important for growing good tasting vegtables. Shelf life and firmness go hand in hand together. You will notice the shelf life of vegetables can vary  dependent on how the vegetables were grown, calcium is a significant  mineral and will firm your vegetables.

9. Avoid Fungicides-  Improve the biology in your soil and with fully oxygenated environment and plants will grow how they are designed by mother nature. The result of growing good from soil will get the nutrient cycling working properly to give the plant what its needs at certain times. This environment will grow healthy plants and the most nutritious yields comes from stress free plants. Fungicides will kill the beneficial fungi coating that is naturally on the leaves foliage, mother nature put it there for a reason as the plants natural defense system. If you have to take the route to spray a fungicide it is important to spray a compost tea in order to create new beneficial fungi on the leaves surface. The compost tea should contain

10. Continue to Build Your Soil-  There is no reason to have increased cost year after year in vegtable production. We can take the proper steps to continue building our soil to reduce input cost. The environment needs to be created with the goal of biological activity. Many people claim that soils are depleted. More commonly it is the nutrients in the soil are locked an not soluble to the plant. Compaction is not a friend of soil for food production, oxygen is needed in the soil to allow biological activity in the soil. In an aerated soil environment the roots will be able to grow deeper with access to more nutrients. We need to maximize diversity in our soils, the more life living and feeding on the soil the better its fertility.

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The Best Backpack Sprayer- Kwazar Backpack Sprayer is Built To Last

Kwazar Neptune Backpack Sprayer

Looking for a backpack sprayer that will last year after year?  You will love the Neptune backpack sprayer because Kwazar Sprayers are built to last. Often refereed to as a Knapsack Sprayer, this sprayer has the option for left or right attachment of the pump handle, adjustable shoulder straps and clip for maintaing comfortable positioning. The  ability for constant monitoring from the pressure gauge will prove the fine mist and ability to maintain pressure from the Kwazar backpack sprayer. It makes your work more comfortable to use a fault free sprayer that will las year after year. Not only can this be the best garden sprayer you have ever owned but a line of sprayers than can be used for many applications.

pressure sprayer
Pump up backpack sprayer

The sprayers are made from a highly durable chemical resistant material that will ensure no leaks from worn out parts and seals. The backpack sprayer is supported from Kwazar with a 5 year tank guarantee. The Neptune backpack sprayer is manufactured with viton seals, the best in the business. These backpack sprayers can be used for many purposes and applications, they hold through challenges that most sprayers on the market would end with. Not only are Kwazar Sprayers durable and long lasting, the performance  is superior of many knapsack sprayers on the market. The fine mist of the Kwazar Sprayers speaks for itself and can be extended with the extendable telescopic lance. The glass fiber telescopic lance can extend making work more comfortable and enable spray  land in hard to reach areas. The performance from the Neptune backpack sprayer is loved by many because the fine mist application saves water and product. There is nothing worse than spending time with a garden sprayer that does not work, they usually end up in the dumpster. Once I started buying quality sprayers I no longer had to purchase a garden sprayer each year.

backpack sprayer
The fine mist from the Neptune backpack sprayer
The best garden sprayer

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How to Take a Soil Sample- Get your Soil Biology Working

The video above from Dr. Elaine Ingram is a great video serioes to save in your book marks if you need to remember tips on taking soil samples. Watch video 7 – How to take a soil sample

It is important to understand how to properly take a soil sample in order for your analysis to reflect your soil conditions correctly. Many local agriculture extensions and laboratories around that country will perform a soil analysis for a charge.

This is the first step to having the ability to grow high quality food. Growers need to understand their soil characteristics and make economical changes according to what is possible. Without a soil test you are standing in the dark. Understand that not all soils can grow the same crops. Soil is sand, silk or clay and can change from field to field depending on how the mineral components of the bedrock are broken down.

Biology needs oxygen and often compaction is a major challenge in agriculture. No oxygen and no biology and we are in trouble ! Understand what you have to do in order to get your soil biology active!

Soilfriends understands that growers can have millions of friends in the soil working to build healthy soils, but we have to create the conditions in order for the biology to work properly. We need balanced soils but most importantly we need to understand the soil in order to design a soil program for a successful agriculture operation. Not all products can work with all soils and management roles should change to be compatible with the soil type a grower is working with.

soilfriends plants pumpkin seeds
Take A Soil Sample Before You Plant Your Seeds

Take Your Soil Sample in the Fall!

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Kwazar Garden Sprayers- The Perfect Garden Sprayer For Gardeners

kwazar hand pump sprayer gardener grows vegetable seeds
kwazar garden sprayer foliar feeding plants

Our first year that we started growing produce by the acre, I quickly learned that a quality garden sprayer was something that could save our farm time. I found not only could a quality garden sprayer save us time, but It could save Soil Friends money on product that were being wasted due to problems with the sprayers leaking and spraying “B- LINE STREAMS” at our plants. That stream doesn’t stick to the foliage of plants. Organic spray products for vegetable production are expensive and the lower quality sprayers we were using took time to get them to work properly and wasted a lot of product.

I was then introduced to foliar feeding my first year growing vegetables. At the time I had no idea that I wasn’t suppose to paint the entire plant with product, but to spray a fine mist over the top of the plants. I purchased my first Kwazar Sprayer a few weeks after learning about foliar feeding because other produce growers in the area were using Kwazar, because they are fine mist sprayers. I have personally owned my Kwazar sprayer for a few years before starting, its nice to not purchase a sprayer year after year. Kwazar garden sprayers are made to last and thats why Soil Friends sells Kwazar Sprayers!

Our goal as Soil Friends is to provided relevant education, information and resources to spread the growth and access of farmers and gardeners who want to grow not only environmentally clean but nutrient dense foods. Foliar feeding can help.

“When foliar feeding walk at walking speed spraying a fine mist above the plants, the cloud will then fall on top of the plant in a uniform manner”

Certain recipes in foliar feeding solutions can give farmers and gardeners increased yields by proving the plant with more energy at key physiological phases of crop growth. Foliar feeding can give the foliage a proper coating to protect itself from diseases, remember when spraying a fungicide that is killing all of the positive bacteria on the leaves surface potentially leaving the plant more susceptible to disease than when you first sprayed it.

Kwazar garden sprayer foliar feeding
Kwazar hand pump garden sprayer


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Planting Onions For Market- Timing for Starting Seeds

Have you ever planted onions as transplants: We have done this the past few years with success! 

Sweet Onions

We have planted onions in the field for the past few years from transplants. We start them in 200 count trays, our  first seeds this year around the second week of February for the growing season.

Remember we are in Michigan each state could be different.


Part of the reason we are planting seeds a bit later this year is the cost to heat the greenhouse to keep it warm, it could be done no problem but we are just taking our time in hopes of still planting in the Field in April. Last spring we planted onions and early tomatoes on May 1,  we hope to go in the field this year a bit earlier with our onions but it is dependent on weather conditions. As farmers we are optimistic, yet anything can happen so plan to be flexible while waiting for your farmers to bring in the sweet onion crop.

Soil Eats First!


Check out the video of how to plant a lot of onions ,We love the transplanter 🙂

We planted thousands onions last summer variety trials in 2013

ISP Tech Michigan Onion Trials

Make sure your onions start of with plenty of nitrogen as applications later in the season can be detrimental on bulb quality. Depending on your garden or commercial field layout you can plant onions about 9inches apart.

isp large onion feild


QUALITY ONIONS and Nutrient density. SWEET AND FULL OF GREAT FLAVOR. Enjoy Fresh onions all year around!

Give your customers flavor

Ask us for more information on growing onions in your vegetable garden!