The demand for local and sustainable food is increasing as consumers are interested in food transparency . Being able to establish relationships through farmers markets is a great way for farmers to connect with their customers to meet their desires. As a customer at a farmers market you can influence the variety of crops the farmer grows and the methods they use to farm.

Food can be a consumer driven industry  but it is important for consumers to understand what it is they are shopping for. Farmers will adapt to demand because they want to sell product and stay in business, but not all farmers will change their ways. It is important that consumers continue to shop around the farmers market in search for the farmers who meet their needs and correspond with the values they have.

As farmers we have been encouraged by our own customers at farmers markets to grow certain varieties and give our customers what they want. We work hard to put everything together to raise our produce and bring it to market year after year, but it can only take one time that measures are not taken for proper food safety to put a hard working farmer out of business.  Proper sanitation practices in packaging rooms must be used each time before packaging produce.

Once the produce has been sold from the farmers market it is important on a consumer level that food safety issues are understood. No matter how hard a farmer works to prevent food contamination before market things can happen in our own kitchen. Clean surface areas before cutting produce and avoiding cross contamination are good starting points to keep our families. Soilfriends garden sprayers from kwazar are made to last.

Foliar feeding plants is a great way to increase biological activity in the soil, this will encourage plants to uptake more minerals. When crops uptake more minerals the flavor is outstanding and storage ability increases.  The Kwazar Mercury garden sprayer has double action technology per stroke. The high quality design of the Kwazar garden sprayers ensures fault free operation. As you can hear in the background children love to use the  fine mist from the Kwazar sprayers.

Our best quest to find true health starts with the question “what can I do for myself”? Through experience and research with nutrient dense foods it obvious that the foods we consume are our therapy. Mother nature created an environment for our people to take care of themselves and when it comes to a creating a healthy diet, it is nothing more complicated than incorporating nutrient dense fruits and vegetables into our diet. Being in the Agriculture business make sure you grow food or buy food from farmers who promote soil life. Farmers who promote soil life are the source for the best foods in the world. These farmers work to build their soil with biological soil programs to ensure the food is nutritious.

Diet plays a huge role in creating the environment for cancers. Foods that we consume can block the blood supply to cancers before they get started. We can play the prevention card and pair different anti- angiogenesis foods and create ” food synergy” for beating cancer at its own game.

Research indicated that anti-angiogenesis foods will not give cancer an environment to grow in. It is important to understand what foods have the strongest cancer prevention traits, grapes, parsley, garlic and berries are some ideas to start with. Instead of agriculture having negative effects on health and the environment, agriculture can be changed by people who demand nutrient dense foods while keeping the environment clean. Agriculture does not need to be like chemical warfare.

It is important to know that not all food is created equally with comparisons being 1000 times more nutritional than others. High quality fruits and vegetables come from healthy plants that are managed properly. It is important to select farmers who have a focus on producing nutrient dense crops rather than just a shiny product on the shelf. Agriculture does not grade food today for the nutrient content but rather just the appearance.

Trying different foods from different growers will allow your taste buds to do the talking. Not all soils are balanced the same, growers who have more attention to detail with fertility practices should be the farmers that are searched for at the farmers market. Their food will taste better and have longer storage ability. Nutrient dense foods weight more and typically will dehydrate before they rot.

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Taking the proper steps while growing fall mums will encourage the plant to bloom each fall. The mums will bloom in season for the perfect fall home decor.

Some people choose to purchase potted fall mums year after year to give their homes the fall look. Planting mums in the ground before frost will give the roots time to get anchored down and to make it through the winter. Planting earlier in the fall will encourage maximum root development. A root growth stimulant and a high phosphorus plant food will surely give the roots a jolt before winter. After the first frost cut the main stem and leave 6-8 inches, mulch it if you want. In the spring after it has 6 inches of new growth  take a few inches off and second cut has to be completed before july 4.  Be careful not to cut to much of your plant, timing is crucial for cuttings so we can enjoy our colors in time for fall. Keeping mums watered and fed with the proper amount of nutrient will ensure they come back each year.

vegetable garden seeds

Indoor vegetable garden

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Setting up a indoor garden is great but it takes a tremendous effort on our part to setup, let alone maintain it but we do it for the bounty of goods we plan to receive from it. We have seen the snowball effect of container gardening problems, its best to try to avoid even the first step. The indoor garden is set up and growing, one problem leads to the other and before you know it is time to harvest. Each problem has potential to cut down on our yields and quality of a vegetable garden.

Algae is often green but can vary to black with a hint of red, it often can give your indoor garden a moldy smell. Algae can block emitters, channels, and pumps and attract unwanted pest and pathogens into our  indoor garden. The combination of water, nutrient and light is great, if our idea is to harvest algae but not the best idea for a safe and healthy vegetable garden. Algae can make our reservoir tanks anaerobic, biology isn’t working in anaerobic conditions. Proper algae management will allow gardeners to maintain trouble free  hydroponic growing systems, avoid using chemicals to kill algae. Growers can create a ideal environment for biological activity in water by blocking the light from the nutrient tank. This is simple but this problem can grow to be complex . After crops have been harvested you will be able to cut down on the time you spend cleaning moldy reseivor tanks. When using container gardening clean crop production is best for food safety purposes as well as making a point to grow high quality vegetables to bring to market.

Urban farming is an ideal instance when food is grown in an urban setting and commonly a container gardening operation. Hydroponic food production can be used to produce food with many methods of container gardening options available for gardeners to choose from. As the populations in large cities continue to increase it is important to have individuals involved in the research and development of urban farming systems to not only feed people but produce nutrient dense vegetables. Urban farming can teach growers to sustainability use each square foot of space in production for a vegetable garden.  When selecting a fertility program growers should think in depth on the choices they make to ensure total crop quality and if their environment can hold a match to the minerals that are available in soil crop production.

 

Spraying Peppers

Kwazar pressure sprayers are comfortable to use

Horizons for this years big vegetable garden are for a bountiful harvest of nutrient dense foods from the spring through the fall. A healthy vegetable garden will produce higher yields and extend the garden season, if we can manage the vegetable garden them properly through adverse conditions. The weather outlook can change at times for the worst and make one wonder if the garden will be able to swim out alive. We can help our plants by foilar feeding them in stressful situations. When conditions are “to wet ” our garden soil will become anaerobic and biology isn’t working. Below is an example.

“ Plants are transplanted into the field or  vegetable garden, afterwards a week of rainfall and very little sunshine. Plants are looking light green and they don’t seem to be growing”.

The biology in the soil in this condition isn’t working .Think of it as an endless anchor falling from a boat to the depths of the sea. This is how the vegtable garden is feeling. Plants that start our vigorous are the ones who have the largest potential for quality and yield. Lets slow down the rate of the falling anchor and incorporate foilar feeding in our program to get nutrients to our crops and help the soil with the proper nutrient cycling. Once weather conditions become favorable again our vegetable garden will have less anchor to pull up. It is common for foilar feeding to increase crop yields depending on the crop variety and to also give growers a nutritional increase in their crop.

The demand from consumers for locally grown, high quality, and nutrient dense foods is increasing. The flavor from a healthy vegetable garden proves itself, higher brix produce simply contains more nutrients that our bodys crave. We have experience in many instances where individuals did not like the taste of tomatoes but when they found nutrient dense tomatoes, which received foilar feeding in production they ate the tomatoes and enjoyed them. The same is true with children, when exposed to nutrient dense fruits and vegetables they are more likely to enjoy them because the flavor determines desires.

Understanding foilar feeding in a crop production will give growers the ability to manage crops through adverse conditions. For the home gardener this can make our time growing, canning, and freezing more enjoyable to know we gave our crops a chance to receive a nutritional increase.

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Fine mist from the Kwazar pressure sprayer

 

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Michigan Soil before planting a cover crop.

Another great spring of gardening is upon us for growing a vegetable garden,  if we took the crucial step before winter that will benefit our next growing season we are thinking about ways to till cover crops into the garden soil. Remember when planting your vegetable garden that soil will eat first. Lets get our fields and vegetable gardens ready for biological activity by having cover crops in our programs to help improve soil fertility.  Growing vegetables for nutrition is the quest but our garden soil is a limiting factor if we do not manage it properly. So many cover crops, what do I grow?

We cant tell you what to grow, but here is a few things you should know:

1. You need to take into consideration what crops are going to be planted in the spring. How early do you plan on putting them in? Growing the wrong cover crop can make things challenging for growers, especially midwest growers who are planting early in the spring. If the wrong cover crop is grown or has not been properly managed, access growth and root structure will play a factor in decomposition. The garden soil will have large chucks of root structure and organic matter to break down before the nutrients in the  garden soil will be available to the plants.

2. Most cover crops are legumes with nitrogen-fixing bacteria living in root nodules. After these plants are tilled into the ground the fixed nitrogen will begin to release. Tilling cover crops at the proper time will help growers achieve maximum benefits. Environmental conditions will play an important role on decomposition.Higher levels of nitrogen will increase the speed of decomposition, turning the organic matter into soil organic matter. Soil organic matter (SOM) is decomposition beyond the point of recogniton. To achieve this the organic matter should be worked into the top 6-7 inches of the soil. Soil moisture, temperature will determine the rate of decomposition so plan accordingly.

3. Cover crops will slow down the rate and quantity of water that will drain from our fields and help with soil erosion. The major factor being the cover crop roots are anchored into the ground, this environment is ideal for water infiltration. In many instances soils have conditions of hydrophobia, which is the tendency to not absorb water. Cover crop roots can grow many feet deep into the ground creating room for water holding capacity. This deep penetration of the roots growing in the garden soil will help create a soil environment with oxygen, essential if you want your soil to be alive. With Bare fields we let our valuable nutrients wash away without having the chance to put up a fight to stay around for our next growing season.

4. Depending on crop rotations, cover crops can be a beneficial environment for wildlife. Cover crops will bloom and attract our lovely pollinators. Weed suppression can be a benefit from planting cover crops and make for a better scenery than a field full of weeds. Once the weeds reach full maturity they have been given the chance to spread seeds for reproduction, cover crops can help suppress the germination of weed seeds. After lowering the population of weed seeds in our field by using cover crops, we are not giving weeds a chance at germinating and reproducing. Growing cover crops takes management and planning but it will help garden soil. Most commonly in the midwest rye is planted as a cover crop because many  farmers harvest into fall.

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This time of year most of us are excited for spring and ready to spend some time outside in the garden. Garden ideas are best planned ahead of the growing season, the garden ideas we come up with now for an indoor garden will allow us to get a early start on the gardening season. If you want a jump start on your garden this year you can start now by growing an indoor garden. Make sure the environment for your indoor garden is insulated with proper air ventilation. Using rockwool cubes as a medium for starting seeds in a indoor garden can work great from germination through harvest, or can serve as a way to get plants started so they will be larger when the time comes to plant outside.

It is important when growing tomatoes in a container gardening operation to maintain proper temperatures for fruit set development and most importantly to have the proper lighting conditions.  When growing a indoor garden, high quality lights are needed for a growing healthy and productive plants. Have you ever noticed  growing tomatoes with low quality lights results in stretchy plants. It is common for growers to start their seeds in heated greenhouses or inside a dark germination room then moving the plants directly under artificial lighting after the seeds have germinated.Working with small humidity domes and a heating pads will increase the germination rate, growers need to be aware that pads with no control pads can get the tray to hot causing seeds to not germinate. As your plants grow they will require a larger medium. Small rockwool cubes can be purchased for germination and fit into a 72 count tray.When growing tomatoes the seeds need to germinate around 90 degrees but not to exceed much over 90 degrees. Soaking the rockwool in water with the correct pH around 5.5-5.7 for at least 30 minuets before planting seeds, will give the medium enough moisture to get a start on germinating the seeds. The rockwool must remain moist over the period of time the seeds are germinating.

If your growing heirloom tomatoes in your vegetable garden heirloom, keep in mind that heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate meaning they will grow in height until they are finished. The germination process of heirloom seeds is critical because we do not want stretchy plants. Organic farming operations do not pay bills from growing plant material, fruit is what pays the bills.  Container gardening can yield healthy food before most local produce is ready for market, this gives organic farmers a chance at a profitable early market. While those who use container gardening on their patio can benefit from having fresh produce earlier in the season. Container Gardening is popular for growing tomatoes across the country for gardeners and commercial growers.