Midday Fix: Tomato garden tips from Purple Cow Organics VIDEO

WGN channel 9 in Chicago

Ryan Hartberg visited Chicago’s WGN channel 9 news station and while the cameras were rolling, talked about planting tomatoes and increasing the health of soils. Watch the segment here.


Tips for growing from Purple Cow Organics

There are some considerations to begin with, when you’re planting the perfect tomato. Do you want to start from seed? Do you prefer to start with a plant? What kind of variety do I like to eat? Because it’s been a cold, wet spring, it’s not too late to start from seed. And because tomatoes are warm-weather plants, it’s optimal to start tomato plants when it’s no longer cold and rainy in the day and down into the 40s at night. It’s about being an observational grower – you don’t want to be the first one to plant tomatoes just to be first. Wait until the timing is right outside, and be patient.

You can have the best plant in the world, but if it’s grown in bad soil, it won’t be a good plant – or tomato. The good news is that gardening organically is easier than you might think – instead of loading soil with chemical fertilizers, you can replace them with organic matter, nutrients and microbes. Adding a couple of inches of compost brings nutrients back into the soil, and also makes your tomato plants require less attention, because it’s grown in a living, breathing, self-regulating ecosystem. Perfect tomatoes start with good microbiology. A single handful of healthy soil actually contains more microbes than there are people on earth.

organic fertilizer

You can look for organic tomato plants, which will have an organic tag on them. But if you have good, healthy soil, it doesn’t mean that a non-organic tomato plant won’t do well – it still well. Generally speaking, if you’re buying a tomato plant, look for plants that aren’t too tall and leggy – the “squattier” the better. I’d rather have a plant that’s shorter than a tall plant. look for thicker, larger leaves that are greener, versus smaller leaves or yellow leaves.  With seeds, you can buy organic seeds or heirloom tomato seeds.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so you have to be sure there is enough fertility in the soil.  If you use bad soil, then the plant is more susceptible to disease and blight, because the plant is defending itself against that, instead of using the energy for strong, healthy growth.  After tilling the soil, you can apply fertilizer, like compost tea, which is good because you can make a batch and add it to plants quickly. Basically, you coat the leaves with a small coating – I’ve gone out in my garden with a spray bottle to spray it on a plant. A good two-inch layer on op will do.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 12.23.04 PMIf you have clay or dense soil, you can incorporate compost to escalate the microbiological elements for a better tomato that is not just healthy but nutrient-rich. Alternately, you can use a liquid biological.

People get excited in the early spring, because they’re doing all the work and are glad when the plants are in the bed or container. But later, when you get later into the season, you might get tired of weeding, or it’s hot outside or there’s a lot of mosquitoes. Still, if you want great tomatoes at harvest time, check to see how your plants are growing regularly – are they flowering? Are they distressed?

For watering plants like tomatoes, you want to water less often, but water more.  If you can go every third or fourth day with a good dousing, that’s better for the tomato plant.

Link: http://wgntv.com/2017/05/30/midday-fix-tomato-garden-tips-from-purple-cow-organics/

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

My take on a wet spring… 

Article by James (Sandy) Syburg President of Purple Cow Organics

Farming and the calendar

In organic/biological farming we rely heavily on soil health and function.  Therefore temperature is a key to determining if conditions are suitable for seedbed preparation and ultimately planting.  The first reason is simple plant physiology.  All seed and plant varieties require a minimum temperature to germinate or break dormancy. 

Many of the “old timers” planted when the forsythia bloomed or when the oak leaf was the size of a squirrels ear. 

It’s often hard to resist planting by the calendar.  These old methods used a gauge that took many factors into account and while often occurring very close to the same time each year the plants new best when conditions were right.  Soil temperature can only tell us one aspect of the soils readiness to be planted in.  The other more difficult indicator is biological activity. As soil warms life return.  As bacteria awaken they produce metabolic heat adding to the warming process of the lengthening hours of sunlight.  Planting into cold soils reduces germination and in some instances requires re-planting. 

One farmer friend of mine shared a story recently about a neighbor making the front page of the local paper for being the “first in the field”.  Fortunately they did not come out and take his picture when he had to re-plant. 

Another friend shared the old line:

“If you’re gonna plant twice you need to start early”.

Get your plants off to a good start with more focus on soil.

It’s always a fine line when making the decision to go to the field.  In a wet spring and can become even more troubling.  Often the window to prepare and plant begins to close and you are in the field at less than optimal conditions.  One way to help at planting is with an in-furrow biological support application.  A liquid biological like Purple Cow CX-1 along with biostimulants in the form of sugars, proteins and amino acids found in molasses and fish based products helps get the soil right at the germinating seed in better shape to support the early stages of plant growth.  This works well in any planting condition but when the conditions aren’t the best it’s best to make sure to do what you can to overcome natures obstacles.  And while I have been talking mainly about germination and early seedling vigor let’s not forget the soil.  You may have worked the seedbed just a bit wet or cool.  Giving the soil that jump start will return dividends at planting as well as later in the season.

We all want that strong start to the season.  Sometimes the strongest start given the conditions we are dealt is best.

Purple Cow Organics 100% organic products always work to maximize the potential of your farm. Contact us to learn more.


CX-1 testing has shown earlier emergence due to added energy and biological row support in corn.  In soybeans root nodulation almost doubled by V2 (3 weeks).


Earth Day: Benefits to healthy soil VIDEO

On Earth Day, Ryan Hartberg visited Milwaukee’s channel 12 news station and while the cameras were rolling, talked about planting and healthy soils with Andy Choi who’s a self-professed newbie to gardening. Watch the segment here. Full transcript is below.


Ryan on the news

Earth Day! Ryan Hartberg on Channel 12 News in Milwaukee talking about compost and planting.

Full transcript:

New on WISN 12 news, we are of course talking about earth day and all of the gray importance of earth day. And joining us today to talk about gardening–we’re talking about gardening and this beautiful set you brought with us here. Ryan Hartberg of Purple Cow Organics is here to talk about why healthy soil is essential to getting the best results for your garden. Thank you for coming in.

Thank you, Andy.

A lot of people are talking about gardening with the sun shining and the temperatures warming up.

First of all, happy earth day. It is like Mother’s Day. You should love your mother all year long. But it is nice to have one day you pay attention to her.


So here is what top soil looks like or some soils look like. We see it on a farm field or our backyard. This is the.Are this is used over and over again.

We have been taking, taking, taking. 95% of the food that we heat comes from soil and top soil specifically. If this is what it looks like we may not get nutrients. It takes a thousand years to create three inches of top soil. A long time.

So how do we give the love?

It is great and common and easy to get, compost. This is materials that come from the earth, sustainable. And broken down to a useful, soil again, the difference between a topsoil used and compost. This is dark and rich, full of nutrients, biology. And holds moisture well. You can do it in your back yard or a garden center and buy compost.

And I’m not exactly a green thumb. So for the folks watching, if I can do it.

You can do it. So should we start planting something.

Yes. Great.

We have a couple of peppers here. We take a little bit of compost. So put it.

So a little handful in the hole there. You get the goodness by the man’s roots.

Goodness for mother nature.

And all right. That in the hole there. And then put a little bit more compost.

More compost.

And cover the top of the pot.

Part of is, just, you see the topsoil that is ragged and not doing too much for you, you have to show mother earth the love.

Yes. The compost is like the super vitamin and hold moisture and give the plant the nutrients it needs. And then fertilizer.

A kick there. It is a great way to get more nutrients around the plant.

All right. Thank you. My green thumb is upgraded quite a bit there. Happy earth day to you. If you would like to learn more about the great recommendations here for the soil, check out purplecoworganics.com.

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