Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jim Kennards thoughts on Greenhouse costs

1. What is your
view of the less expensive greenhouses that can be purchased as kits?

i.e. "Hoop Houses" and the like. Are these valuable tools for
vegetable gardeners? Could you recommend using them to raise
vegetables through their complete cycle... from seeding to
harvesting? ( as opposed to only using these greenhouses to extend
the season for one's crops).

2. Do you recommend the use of large garden tillers to prepare your
soil, cultivate, etc. ? There are also smaller, lighter tillers that
seem quite popular and are often used for weeding/cultivating etc.
(the Mantis tiller/cultivator and others). These are much easier to
manage because of their light weight.

3. Since you often teach your methods in foreign and/or third world
countries, I am wondering if you can provide the addresses of
fertilizer suppliers in countries other than the USA. My home is in
Canada and I would love to know if you are aware of sources of your
recommended fertilizers here in Canada, for instance. If not, would
it be difficult to import these chemicals from your recommended
sources in the States? I am especially wondering about the mixtures
of minor trace elements that I have read about on this site. It could
be very difficult to find a supplier of these ingredients locally.
Another concern might be the high freight costs of importing
fertilizers from some distance, given their weight.

4 And finally, using the Mittleider methods, would it be possible to
learn from you how to raise vegetables in a greenhouse environment? I
am thinking here about producing such things as tomatoes, cucumbers,
peppers, & lettuce in quantities sufficient to sell to our local
supermarkets. Perhaps your gardening methods are not geared to the
special challenges inherent in such small-scale, commercial vegetable
production using small greenhouses. A "Mom & Pop" operation is what I
have in mind here. The overall costs of setting up an income-
producing venture is critical to me too. We would have to be somewhat
frugal regarding the start-up costs and capital costs.

David: I've been to Fredericton. You live in beautiful country.

1) All of them have value, otherwise they would not continue
selling. How much value becomes the question of importance. We have
used some, including a corrugated fibreclass quonset-type only 6'
wide and 12' long, and the Solar Optic 8' X 21' fiberglass units sold
by a company in BC, Canada. We provide the plans free because we
believe you can get the most value for your money and the best design
by using Dr. Mittleider's Continuous Ventilator greenhouse. If you
need better insulation than 6 mil greenhouse plastic gives, you can
cover your greenhouse with dual or triple-wall polycarbonate for less
money than buying a comparable ready-made kit.

If you are using a greenhouse to grow crops to maturity a tunnel may
be okay if you're only growing short crops. You need to be able to
raise the sides easily, to give ample ventilation. A Mittleider
greenhouse is tall enough, sturdy enough, and inexpensive enough to
justify building for crop production, and they have been used for
that purpose hundreds, if not thousands of times. And with the roof
ventilation, plus both sides if necessary, and doors on the ends, the
ventilation is excellent.

2) We teach people who have no money for even a good shovel, and
have many advocates who are millionaires with tractors - along with
every level in between. Buy equipment to fit the job. I own a
Mantis, and haven't used it for years. I also own a 5-horse Troy-
Bilt and 2 - 7-horse Troy-Bilts, and use them all the time. Of
course my garden is 1/2 acre. If I was gardening in a space 5' X 15'
or in Grow-Boxes the mantis would be fine and the others would not
even fit.

3) Are there ANY farms within 50 miles of you? How about truck
farms or greenhouses. The ingredients for the Mittleider Magic
fertilizers are so common that every agronomist knows them and where
to get them. Canada is not a backward country and has some of the
best farming practices in the world. I am aware of hydroponic
growers in BC who grow 330 TONS of tomatoes PER ACRE! You can find
the simple ingredients for the fertilizers most ANYWHERE IN CANADA,
with the possible exception of the Northwest Territories. You can't
be looking under a rock for them, but they are not hard to find.
Start with farm supply stores.

If my answer seems a little strong, please forgive me, but we have
found the fertilizers in the middle of the most backward countries in
the world. And it is ALWAYS worth the effort.

4) The Foundation teaches a 3-month agriculture course. If you
follow me to Zimbabwe or Madagascar, you could even join us and learn
how to really do it right. Or you could buy the books Let's Grow
Tomatoes, Gardening by the Foot, and the Garden Doctor set, along
with Food For Everyone (the text for the 3-month training course),
and by following the steps laid out, you can be successful. Those
books only cost about $130, and are a great investment for the
serious gardener. But let me suggest what might be even a better
opportunity. We have digitized all of these books, plus 3 more, and
9 technical manuals, then we created a Searchable database on a
single CD ROM disk. We call it the Mittleider Gardening Library.
And for the next two weeks, instead of costing $69.95 it is $50, plus
we also include - again for the next two weeks only - the Garden
Wizard CD, which has a good database of plants, a garden designer,
etc., etc.

So, what I'm saying is, yes it is definitely possible to learn from
us how to grow vegetables in greenhouses, or most anywhere else
there's some heat, light, and water.

Success to you. I highly recommend the archive of posts to this
group, the FAQ section of the website, the free chapters from Dr.
Mittleider's books in the Store section of the website, and as a last
resort, springing for a few bucks and get a book or two.

Jim Kennard


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