Give-away has ended. Congratulations to Monica. Thanks to all who participated
This post is a long time coming. I find that there are two things that are difficult to do together – homesteading and blogging. I spend most of my time these days prepping and planning the garden, taking care of the farm critters, taking care of my family of course and unfortunately house cleaning and blogging are on the end of the list. I won’t ramble any longer about my busy life, instead I will get right into the Mittleider Method of gardening.
What is the Mittleider Method of Gardening?
I urge you to go to directly to the Food For Everyone website to read about Dr. Mittleider himself. Dr. Mittleider was passionate about teaching people how to grow their own food and had many accomplishments while he was still alive. The Mittleider Method of gardening is different in several ways from conventional garden but I want to share the top 5 differences that sparked my interest.
5 Mittleider Method Techniques That Changed The Way I Garden
- Feeding Plants- Dr. Mittleider found for plants to thrive they need 16 essential plant nutrients. By providing plants with the 16 nutrients plants are healthier and full of nutrients we can consume. The 16 nutrients include 3 airborne elements -Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. The other 13 include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK). The other ten include calcium, magnesium, sulfur and 7 trace elements. This plant formula is fed in small amounts to the plants on a weekly basis over a period of the growth of the plants.
- The Soil -The condition of the soil is not as vital when using the Mittleider Method. It is important to have well draining amended soil but you can still plant successfully in many different soil types. According to Dr. Mittleider and his method, plants can grow in virtually any soil as long as the plants are given the essential nutrients. It is however important to create soil beds or grow boxes that have the soil evenly distributed for proper water distribution.
- Plant Spacing – With the Mittleider Method seeds and seedlings can be spaced a lot closer together than traditional methods recommend. The reason for this is because many plants can be grown vertically. Tomatoes (indeterminate), cucumbers, melons and squash some of the plants that can be grown inches apart because of vertically growing.
- Watering – One of the mistakes I have been making with my garden over the past few years is the methods I use for watering. I usually use drip systems and/or a osculating sprinkler. Dr. Mittleider did not recommend these type of watering because it is wasteful and not as affective. Watering with a PVC pipe with small holes drilled into them and place down the center of wide isles is the best way to water, according to Dr. Mittlleider.
- Pruning – Apparently there are many vegetable plants that can be pruned. I was familiar with pruning tomatoes but didn’t realize cucumber, squash and melon plants as well. Pruning these plants can be done because of the vertical growing method. Pruning is important because is allows the growth of large fruit instead of many small fruits. And because plant spacing is closer you can still get the same size harvest but with larger fruit.
Is the Mittleider Method of Gardening Organic?
Growing an organic garden is very important to me. If I am going to take the time to garden to feed my family, I want the produce to be most nutritious it can be. After researching the Mittleider Method and finding out that in order for plants to grow they need certain nutrients. I came to the realization that in order for my family to get the best possible food from my garden, my plants need to be as healthy as possible.
Many people, including myself see the plant formula and think, “those ingredients are in commercial non-organic fertilizers, they can’t be organic, can they?” Well, yes they can. If we understand the fact that everything is chemical at a molecular level. The “chemicals” or elements that are in the plant formula are in our soil and manure fertilizers already.
The reason elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (aka NPK, found in bags of fertilizers, usually with numbers like 10-10-10) are in commercial fertilizers is because they do feed plants. There is however a problem with commercial fertilizers and that is the misuse of them. For instance, one of the things nitrogen does is causes rapid growth. An unbalanced amount of nitrogen will cause rapid growth but not healthy nutritious plants. Over use of certain elements can cause toxicity in the soil as well.
So why won’t organic fertilizers such as manure be good enough? The problem with manure is that the nutrients plants need are not always in manure. They may have some of the nutrients but not in the right amounts. Manure often has a unhealthy amount of salt in it which can affect the proper growth of plants. If manure is not sterile it can also cause all kinds of weed problems for you. You can still use sterile manure in your garden but instead of thinking of manure as a fertilizer think of it as a soil amender. The Mittleider Method of gardening offers plant nutrients in the right amounts over the right amount of time. The soil does not get to any toxic level because they plants are using what they need when they need it.
There is a lot more to be said about the Mittleider Method of gardening but I will have to share that at a later time. This post launches the Healthy Homesteading’s very first giveaway. Jim Kennard, the president of the Food For Everyone Foundation, has agreed to give away The Mittleider Gardening Course book. This is the book I purchased when I went to the garden seminar taught by Jim Kennard. The book is easy to follow and full of a lot of great information on starting the Mittleider Method.
How to Enter the Healthy Homesteading Random Drawing Give-Away.
- Visit Food For Everyone and browse around their store. Don’t forget to look at some of the free book chapters they offer in the left sidebar of the website. Come back here and share what books interest you.
- You can enter again by sharing this give-away with your readers and friends by blogging, tweeting, or facebook. You must link back to Healthy Homesteading and don’t forget to let me know by commenting for each of the three methods of entering.
This give-away will end next Monday at 1pm PST.