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Foliar feeding for quality crop production 101

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Kwazar sprayers do the job for foliar feeding plants

Stress free crops have the highest nutritional yields with higher quality and better flavor. I have seen foliar feeding in management practices over the past few years give farmers a better understanding of growing crops. It gives a grower a chance to learn what plants do from perspective of plant frame and fruit set development. Plants will naturally grow, set fruit and grow again. When foliar feeding we need to understand what phase of growth our plants are in to achieve the maximum benefits with the proper solution.

Water is not water, check the pH! So many times we have worked with growers who need to spray  in order to get a quick nutritional increase to their crop. If we need to make quick changes to help crops, we recommend foliar feeding but if the correct pH for any application in agriculture is not correct then it is not effective. All water is sourced from different areas, we always want a lower pH to properly dissolve soluble plant foods and other products for effective applications. Foliar feeding can help reduce the time a crop spends in stressful conditions, luxiours amount of nutrients are absorbed through the leaves of the plant, this feeding is luxurious but only for a short time with the plants only taking what they can consume and will require another foliar feeding 5-7 days later.

A large rainfall event is stressful and biological soil conditions are not ideal for crop production, this is where foliar feeding can be used to increase soil biology. Active soil biology provides an environment for plants to uptake nutrients. Which direction do we want to go? Do we need more plant growth and foliage growth?  Are some plants lagging in growth? Is there to much growth and not enough fruit set with blossoms? This can give growers control by observing what they want to achieve with the capability to mix a spray that can make instant changes on crop development.  A fine mist is the most important aspect of foliar feeding.

More often it could be if there is a change in soil type, even soilless medium types and plant varieties can show a differently fertility requirement. A created solution with a goal in mind can do the trick, but we need to know what we want to achieve! How can we grow high yielding plants that don’t have enough nodes. Proper fruit development requires node spacing and control between nitrogen and mineral balance in the plants sap. When foliar feeding rowers can observe plants and make controlled changes as needed, but we recommend at least one or two applications per week depending on how aggressive we need to be in order to control the plants.  Different environmental conditions will cause growers to use different approaches that work in their programs. Take control so you can increase your quality and flavor of the crops you grow!

Kwazar Sprayers produce a fine mist
Kwazar Sprayers produce a fine mist
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Kwazar Sprayers are made to last- Why are they the best sprayers on the market?

Kwazar Sprayers are made to last

We have worked hard to bring experience, education and the highest quality products we can find to the market. We offer a range of products designed to meet a variety of needs and conditions, and we help you select the management program to serve your operation best. We have ample experience with most of the crops grown in the Midwest.

Good fertility levels in our soil helps us weather many challenges more successfully. The better our soil biology is balanced the better its performance and production. We have a line of powerful concentrated products including plant foods, soil inoculants, buffers and surfactants, liquid minerals, and biologicals. The greater the quantity and variety of life growing and feeding in and on soil, the better its fertility. This is where foliar feeding with the Kwazar sprayers plays its role in our program. Kwazar sprayers produce a fine mist that hang in the air and slowly drops down over plants, this cloud is ideal for foliar feeding plants. Foliar feeding with our plant foods can almost immediately increase soil biological activity and can be used as an additional management technique for growing healthy crops.

Kwazar sprayers manufacture the highest quality garden sprayers on the market from hand sprayers to backpack sprayers. We have found through our own trials and tribulations that low quality garden sprayers will not efficiency work in a successful crop production operation. From an economical and sustainable outlook we cannot keep throwing sprayers away after each growing season that are filling landfills. A common scenario we have dealt with in the past is having expensive solutions inside the sprayer and having problems with the garden sprayers not spraying effectively. Our search began for the best garden sprayers and after sometime we found Kwazar garden sprayers and realized they are built with the customer in mind, they produce the finest mist of any sprayer we have worked with on the market.

neptune lance
Kwazar sprayers give you a chance for an extra reach to hand a cloud 🙂

Every year brings it own challenges and weather complications.  Soilfriends will provide reliable information and management tools to give our customers for positive return on their investment. Yield loss from environmental stress factors can be reduced. Optimum result being less disease infestation and enhanced nutritional and storage quality. Foliar feeding is a critical tool growers can use to manage their crops, Kwazar  garden sprayers do their job by being durable sprayers that are easy to use. Let us help you develop a crop management program that will improve your bottom line.

Roadside stands can be a great place to purchase mineral rich produce
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Starting A Vegetable Garden

We wanted to share this video to pass on the information from Jonathan Foley, he shows how desperately we need to begin “terraculture” — farming for the whole planet. Growing up in Michigan I could not imagine water from the great lakes disappearing but the fact is things like this are happening all over the world. The colorado river is being drained from agriculture, this river no longer flows to the ocean. Our dominance on this planet is showing that we need to freeze the footprint of agriculture without further harming our environment. Demanding local foods and supporting farmers who are interested in doing the right thing is the way to change the world.

Soilfriends kwazar garden sprayers foliar feeding Soilfriends water soluble plant foods work great with foliar feeding Kwazar garden sprayers
Soilfriends kwazar garden sprayers foliar feeding transplants

The world uses 60 times the amount of the land to grow food than the entire world population takes up. We need to take a world wide approach to increase the efficiency of food production on the land we currently use instead of expanding operations. If we create biological soil programs with properly balanced soils we can receive maximum yields of quality food in small areas. The future of agriculture depends on changes that need to be made to save our environment. Agriculture is the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses from human activity in the world.

We encourage growers and gardeners to farm with the mindset of building soils to reduce inputs year after year and saving resources by using drip irrigation. A vegetable garden layout can make work more efficient and effective, that why most growers and gardeners start developing a plan months ahead of time before growing vegetables. A good garden layout can save energy and resources! You can have the garden of your dreams from and it starts by learning about  Terra-culture. Growing vegetables this way can be accomplished by using biological soil programs to produce food on mineralized soils. Management practices that focus on fertility can use foliar feeding with Kwazar sprayers to increase the biological activity in the soil to help the plant with nutrient uptake. Soilfriends has found when foliar feeding with a fine mist that Kwazar garden sprayers have a uniform mist. Healthy plants have higher yields of nutrient dense foods. Soilfriends focus on building soil health in order to increase yields and protect biodiversity. Starting a vegetable garden is a step in the right direction if you desire nutrient dense foods on your table.

One step at a time!

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Why are the best gardens grown with heirloom seeds?

Heirloom varieties respond well to foliar feeding

When growing food our thoughts should be to start out with seeds that have the potential for maximum nutritional content. Future generations depend on the actions that we take to create a food culture for the feature. This food culture needs environmentally clean, healthier food production with better flavor. Do you ever wonder why some children do not want to eat vegetables? Often the reason children don’t like the taste of vegetables is because something doesn’t taste right,  when talking about conventional fruits and vegetables that are found in most supermarkets the children are correct.

Growing heirloom varieties is a great way to grow delicious tasting vegetables and help the genetic preservation of thousands of year old varieties of vegetables that are disappearing rapidly. We do not want to live in a world that only has a few varieties of crops with the potential of being taken out because of disease and pest problems,  our current food production model is rapidly taking us in this direction.

Heirloom varieties give organic farming operations the ability to grow a crop that has more nutrition in the seed than most hybrids, healthier plants have a higher resistance to disease and insect infestation. Plants from heirloom seeds develop resistance and unique adaptations for the microclimate they are cultivated in reducing and even eliminating sprays for productive crops.   Two years in a row we have worked with growers who have had heirloom plants last longer in the growing season than their hybrids because of disease resistance. When you save seeds, your saving high potential for productive crops that can survive adverse weather conditions.

The flavors are endless
The flavors are endless 🙂

Heirloom seed varieties are open pollinated seeds that can be saved and when replanted growers can expected it to be the same type of crop from which the seed was harvested from. These seeds can be passed on for future generations to cultivate, varieties are typically older than 50 years and can range from thousands of years old. When saving seeds that have been passed down it is very important to start with clean seeds grown from healthy crops, diseases such as blight can contaminate the seeds if not properly cleaned. Harvesting the seeds correctly depends on the type of crop grown and its stage of maturity.  At our farms we save heirloom tomato seeds when the fruit is ripe enough for consumption. Saving seeds at the correct time will allow the seeds to properly develop, allowing the seed to germinate with maximum productive potential when its planted.

To avoid cross pollination it is recommend to give plants their own areas to lower the risk of cross pollination to stay on the safe side. Most tomato plants are self pollinated but other factors such as pollinators can contribute to cross pollination, but bees are good so its worth the roll on of the dice. Usually any cross pollination that does take place is minor and will just add character to the crop.

We are in control of the preservation of unique crop varieties, change can start by pairing with friends to each plant a few varieties of heirloom seeds and exchange seeds and ripe fruit with one another to continuously build a supply of healthy seeds. Eventually this practice could take the rolling effect like social media and create a supply of seeds for food security purposes, but we all need to bring something to the table. I have herd a wise man quote

“ We can count how many seeds are in an apple but we do not know how many apples this seed is capable of producing”.

Kwazar sprayers are produce a perfect mist that sticks to the plants

We attract customers at our farm stand because of the unique varieties that we grow, they are varieties typically only found at farmers markets and roadside stand operations. Our customers are searching for the flavors that have been lost in their lifetime because of the changes in modern agriculture. I have been approached by a customer at the farmers market who told me “ I love tomatoes but in my lifetime the flavor of tomatoes vanished, these are the first tomatoes in 40 years that I have enjoyed that bring back memories as a child, you know what your doing!”. Those type of comments are things that I hear that make my job enjoyable 🙂 Save your seeds and pass them along!

We are planting heirloom seeds right now for our research trials in Kalamazoo, Michigan this summer. Pass along your heirloom seeds to a friend and start a tradition in your community. Growing vegetables with high quality and great flavor can be done in your organic farming operation. A good start on the quest to flavor is by using heirloom seeds. Good luck!


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How to create a design for growing vegetables

When Farmers are not working, they are thinking what to do to do next. The video attached is from one of our trail farms in Michigan. We set up small zones for drip line fertilization practices. This idea is currently used in both small scale and commercial agriculture production. Growers using drip irrigation can plant similar crops that require the same moisture and nutrient requirements together to reduce labor in both mixing nutrient solutions and changing zones.

We had success planting onions, zucchini and cucumbers in a zone together, towards the end of the season the crops required extra water so we split the zones up again. All three crops require larger nitrogen applications in the beginning of the season. We encourage onion growers to apply nitrogen early in the season, because late season applications can have negative effects on flavor. The onions were irrigated in a section at bulb swell with nitrogen taken out of their program and changed to the onion program we use. After our findings we found that will we plant cabbage near the onions in 2014. They both require early nitrogen applications and when sizing both require chloride.

When you shop for fresh produce look for farmers who use biological soil programs, they are the source for nutrient dense foods

We have blends of water soluble fertilizers specifically designed for specific crops, our 5-25-25 blend is the onion special! After learning the nutrient requirements of crops, we are able to design a fertility program. Planting crops in zones helps create a management plan that will be able to keep up with fertility requirements and create soil environments to allow companion planting.

Planning the growing season months ahead of time is the key to designing an efficient operation for vegetable production. Water pressure is always going to be the decision maker on how elaborate your irrigation system is designed. Vegetable production grown with biological soil programs must have enough irrigation to keep the soil moist to keep biology active. As the season progresses healthy plants will set more blossoms and additionally require more nutrients and water because of a higher fruit load.

More common than not growers will have many things to do when its time to harvest, and can get behind on fertility through the drip line irrigation. If we are going to manage our plants early in the season with practices that encourage reproduction and fruit set, we have to have a designed system that will be effective in maintaing soil moisture and nutrient requirements for the plants aggressively. We do not advocate more is better because often it  is not, but we do not want to get behind on fertility practices with full fruit loads.

We teach growers that foliar feeding is like icing on the cake, because we can create biological conditions in the soil immediately and encourage the plant to change its mineral and nitrogen ratios for goals such as new growth or creating fruit set conditions. In critical points of stress in the plants life we can use foliar feeding to give our plants an extra boost of nutrients. Kwazar garden sprayers produce a fine mist that will cover the leaves of the plant uniformly. Kwazar sprayers are the best garden sprayers on the market for spray preformance. When plants that require similar nutrients are planted together, Soilfriends can mix specific nutrients and stimulates in the foliar solution to spray in zones without having to spray to take the energy to spray the same thing in many other areas.

Planning ahead saves energy for later, good luck growing in 2014!

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Growing environmentally clean nutrient dense foods

One acre of vegetable production can produce tons of food, if properly managed the nutrient content in the food will be higher that most produce sold at supermarkets. Lets plan for our 2014 growing season to plant only what we can properly manage. When this mindset is applied the food brought to the table is of higher quality and better flavor.

By properly managing a small area with the correct fertility practices, we can produce more food in less space. Less space to manage gives a grower more time for attention to detail, allowing the grower to watch for signs from the plants in order to understand how they are feeling. By understanding what nutrients and conditions crops require, we are able to make better fertility decisions both economically and from a productive potential standpoint. Vegetable plants grown in a biologically active soil are easier to manage, often times the soil will have higher water and nutrient holding capability, as well as an ideal environment for the plants to uptake minerals. When adding foliar feeding into the management program biological activity can be additionally managed.

The foods required for a healthy diet are mineral rich foods. Fresh vegetables grown in mineralized soil are different than conventionally grown vegetables, they stand out for quality and great flavor. When shopping for produce at local farmers markets look for foods grown with not only the label for clean crop production but for foods that are nutrient dense with a high brix content.

Mineral rich soils that are biologically active give off an aroma that we want to smell while working in our fields. We planted crimson clover throughout the field, when the clover was in bloom it was amazing to have the extra gift for our pollinators. Once the cover crop is in bloom many added benefits can be gained from tilling it into the soil, we did this in-between the rows during the growing season. This was our idea for weed suppression and reduction of tillage to keep the weeds down.

We work with many small scale market growers to create biological soil programs for healthier food production, we are seeing many benefits for farmers with our vegetable programs, a major one being flavor. Management practices are the bottom line of vegetable production with a strong correlation between a properly executed management and profitably.


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Why is ecological farming a growing success?

We believe that when it comes to growing crops Mother Nature is in control of production, its always a good idea to mimic her as much as possible in order to reap rewards from the efforts we put into growing. A great way have a successful garden is to start with an ecological approach of growing. It does take time but over time we can build for a feature where pieces of the puzzle will come together creating independent crop systems that require less input year after year.

Plants growing in a healthy soil system send signals into their environment, alerting other crops if something that will effect them is near in order for them to be alert to ward these predators out. Healthy plants will destroy bugs, often times you will notice in integrated pest management systems growers will have satellite images of heat zones, this system identifies plants that are not healthy and vigorous for scouts to keep a visual eye on because these zones are more susceptible. Plants with high sugar content will not be attacked by bugs because they cannot properly metabolize sugars.

Some of the cropping systems taking place currently have more inputs going into them than outputs, this is a negative system that does not make even basic economic sense. In many other countries food  large scale monocultures are not an option because land is scare, but somehow they are feeding themselves on smaller sized operations. This is where ecological farming also know as biological farming can create a successful growing operation for farmers of all size because the end result is building healthy soils that will require less inputs each year. YES, even if you have a small garden your a farmer that has the ability to build your soil. A healthy soils system can eliminate the use of fungicides and insecticides because healthy plants are less susceptible to disease and insect infestation.

Each year a grower spends developing a biological soil system an army of friends in the soil will be multiplying. This ecological approach will let mother nature yield a bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables for a family to harvest, while achieving  many things in the soil like increased air infiltration, a soil that is not getting proper oxygen will not having working soil biology. Along with this comes increased water and nutrient holding capacity to battle challenges with drought, as well with advantages of being able to work a soil earlier in the spring if soil biological conditions are balanced with the correct conditions. Creating the right conditions for ecological farming can reduce many of the challenges that are faced when growing crops, the key to success is to start and keep going forward. This video is long but does have some great information in order to gain a further look into soil biology.

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Produce Growers Corner

Kwazar sprayers can help increase yields

Here we go down the last mile of the 2013 season. This year had its challenges and disappointments for some, but we must remember that every year brings its own unique blessings and adversities. Our spring started off wet across most of the area we cover, causing compaction and less than ideal growing conditions.

We saw early planting problems that resulted in over grown plant and early fruit set loss. Part of the problem came from 2012 being a dry year resulting in a nitrogen build-up carry over. Excess nitrogen availability along with the extra water led to accelerated growth, crowing out the minerals and trace elements needed for proper plant growth, fruit set and development. Signs of nitrogen problems observed this year were one lobe peppers, cantaloupes with green stripes, seedless tomatoes.

Besides the challenges we were faced with there was nice produce at the market, but it took some good management to accomplish it. The first place to start is by taking a soil sample in the fall and applying fry minerals followed by ReStore 3G to stimulate bacteria and fungi in the soil, which then provide nutrients for the following crop. The spring is the best time to apply dry fertilizer trace elements along with a good transplant solution containing a rooting stimulate and some humic acid.

Another management tool that worked well this year was PhytoGroXtra, a high carbon plant growth and soil activator with enzyme/ micro extract concentrate, soil modifiers, and chelated micronutrients. This product will aid in reducing sodium buildup, and improve water and air ratio by reducing soil compaction. PhytoGroxtra aids in phosphate uptake (both applied and in the soil) by increasing carbon levels. Research in many areas has shown that humic acid aids in increasing yeild, plant vitality and fruit quality while reducing fungal disease.

Additional boron may also be added when fruit set is not at a desirable level. We have seen growers having problems with not getting good fruit set and when boron is added fruit set improved. Remember calcium is the truck, phosphorus is the engine being driven by boron.

Just a few things for you to keep in mind while planning next years crops!



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Does Foliar Feeding Work?- How To Get A Return On Your Investment

Effective foliar sprays must have a fine mist so the minerals can be absorbed through the leaves

We teach that foliar feeding with our products always improves nutrition of the crop, and if calcium levels in the soil are good, there is an excellent chance you will also see a yield increase. We received many phone calls from customers reporting that while their foliar fed hay did show a increase in yield, the major benefit was how well it preformed as feed for their livestock. The animals ate less per day, saving the farmer money, and their animals maintained their health and weight.

Why do foliar fed crops respond well with our program? The N-P-K is similar to what you would find in any other foliar fertilizer, but the difference is from all the other nutritional supplements that are packed into our plant foods. It is like health food for your crops because they feature a trace mineral package that includes magnesium, sulfur, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc, plus organic acids and vitamins.

Kwazar sprayers are perfect for fault free spraying to get the job done

One way to save a crop under stressful weather conditions can be done by foliar feeding. Look for pale green foliage, which is a good sign of stress, and you can bet you are loosing yield and nutritional value. Plants that start out vigorously, especially in vegetable production are the plants that pay a farmers bills. Mother nature is control, we know that and we except that but we have found ways to lessen the damage that wet springs can have on our crops. The feeling after working hard to plant vegetable transplants in the fields and a week on little sunshine and rain is not optimal for starting vigorous plants but foliar feeding can help overcome these challenges.

Foliar feeding gives farmers a management advantage by being able to manipulate the plants sap. We are always battling challenges from vegetative and fruiting.  Vegetative is associated with nitrogen and fruiting associated with mineral. A plant that grows in a vegetative mode without setting enough fruit will not be profitable, unless you are growing grass. We teach growers to think like they have their hands on a steering wheel of a car, they can make a decision on which way they want to go and how aggressive they need to move the steering wheel in order to get where they want. This steering wheel example is used to teach growers the same is true with foliar feeding. Plants will naturally grow, set blossoms, and grow again in this cycle. When following the growth rate of plants and using certain ingredients in foliar sprays can make the sprays more effective. We have seen great results with foliar feeding with a fine mist over the tops of plants with the Kwazar pressure sprayers.

Kwazar sprayers create a cloud over the plants that will set on top of the plants