Friday, April 07, 2006
Thursday, April 06, 2006
The following is Jims latest Blog entry.
If you would like to donate to the Food for every one foundation to help the foundation please click here.
I was so pleased to visit in his greenhouse last night with the man who has assisted me for the past two years, and discover he is becoming a very competent greenhouse grower. His name is Gnel, and he has a greenhouse with about 1,000 beautiful tomato plants which he will grow to maturity and sell the crop. Only 10 months ago he didn't know how to start or grow seedlings, and now I'll be surprised if he doesn't have the best looking plants in the country. Our own greenhouse is struggling to do its job, with cold, cloudy, rainy, freezing weather. Our little seedlings haven't been able to really start growing since we transplanted them last week, for lack of heat and sunlight. Hopefully it will warm up soon.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Use of pine needles in your Organic Garden
What do pine needles do? We have many pine trees and an over abundance of pine needles. They make nice coverings for the ground and keep
in moisture (In Alabama that is important.), but do they make chemical changes in the soil?
Pine needles are good for your garden! They are best if you can chop them up finely - with a hammer mill, or perhaps several times through a chipper shredder. And if you are thinking of growing your own seedlings, or would like to build and grow in Grow-Boxes, pine needles make a good substitute for sawdust, peatmoss, perlite, etc.
Jacob Mittleider has used them many, many times - always with good success. He has even grown seedlings in STRAIGHT PINE NEEDLES, just to prove his point that they are not harmful.
Types of Sawdust NOT to use in your Organic Growboxes
Some folks think that because Cedar or other kinds of bark are used to keep
weeds down, sawdust from those sources will be bad for plants. This is not the
case. Bark and other types of mulch inhibit weed growth primarily by denying
light to emerging weed seedlings.
On the negative side, mulches also encourage garden pests and diseases by giving
them a cool damp place to live and multiply. We recommend you keep your garden
clean, clear, and dry, except at the root zone of your plants. When you plant
according to the Mittleider Method the close-planted vegetable plants will
quickly shade the ground and minimize water evaporation, without any need for
other ground cover.
Walnut sawdust is the only material - at least in North America - that we have
found to be a problem for vegetable plants.
What Material to use in your Organic Growboxes
that when you rake it up into your beds, you'll have plenty to work with.
My raised beds, which we like to call Grow-Beds, or Soil-Beds, do not have any
added compost. We teach and demonstrate that you can have a great garden in any
soil with no soil amendments, and it's been proven in gardens all over the
If you have materials that are clean and free of weeds, bugs, and diseases, it
is a good idea to incorporate organic materials into your soil. And before
winter is the ideal time to do it, so they will have time to decompose
thoroughly before you plant. HOWEVER, NEVER PUT MATERIALS - COMPOSTED OR
OTHERWISE - INTO YOUR GARDEN UNLESS THEY FIT THIS CRITERIA. DOING SO WILL CAUSE
YOU MANY MORE PROBLEMS THAN THE BENEFIT YOU WILL RECEIVE FROM IMPROVED SOIL
TILTH AND MAYBE A LITTLE ADDED NUTRITION.
IF YOU ARE USING CONTAINERS, WHICH WE LIKE TO CALL GROW-BOXES DO NOT USE COMPOST
OR SOIL AT ALL!! Our experience has not been good with having people use their
existing soil, especially mixed with compost, for filling their Grow-Boxes.
Aside from the problems of the soil itself, such as too much clay, etc., etc.,
often there are seeds, diseases and/or pests in the soil which are introduced
into the mix.
In addition, compost is often an additional problem - with seeds, pests, and
diseases from that source - since most people don't know how or don't take the
trouble to compost with sufficient heat to kill those things.
It's for these reasons that we always strongly encourage people to obtain clean,
fresh materials such as sawdust, peatmoss, etc. and sand for their container
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
A group of blog directories who are going to help us spead the world about the Mittleider Method
If you would like to add a description of this blog to your site please use the following:
Monday, April 03, 2006
New blog entry from Jim April 1 Organic gardening news from Armenia
This past week has been non-stop work for practically every moment we've had daylight. The greenhouse is completed, we've transplanted our first batch of seedlings into 30 flats, and planted another 8 flats of new seeds. We have also almost completed clearing and preparing the ground for the first 24 10-13 meter-long soil-beds or Grow-Beds. We have had to supply heat in the greenhouse during the nights, as we have hard freezes every night. We hope that will change soon, as the plants don't like temperatures below about 50 degrees fahrenheit. Some wonderful people are following our progress, and your notes and assistance are SO GREATLY appreciated. If you have never spent time in a developing country you likely can't imagine the challenges and difficulties we face. But we are committed to making a difference for good, the best way we can. We are grateful for Sundays. We need the rest and change of focus.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Using the Mittleider Method on tress and berries
I would like to try this methed on young fruit and nut trees but need to have more information on how much fertilizer and the time schedule for applying.
Trees love the Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed - just as vegetables do. However, they don't need it as often, because they are much slower-growing. A small tree that has just been planted could use one ounce of Weekly Feed, sprinkled on the soil surface over an area corresponding to the size of the root zone, and watered in. A large shade-tree with trunk diameter of 1' or more would be able to use 12-16 ounces applied the same way. Depending on the size of the tree, you should adjust the application between those amounts - and do it 3 or 4 times per year - always watering the nutrients into the soil thoroughly.
Pre-plant would be applied in amounts about twice as much as Weekly Feed, but just once per year.
The main stem is always the largest and longest stem. At each leaf joint, a
new small stem will start to grow. Allow this stem (on melons) to continue
growing until you see a female flower. That is the one with the tiny fruit
beginning to grow behind it. The male blossom never has fruit attached, but
grows on a narrow stem.
Take off the sucker stem beyond the first fruit-bearing female blossom.
I'm supposed to have a digital camera in the next two days. If I can figure
out how to do it, I will post some pictures
The Mittleider Method of vegetable gardening is the result of 57 years' of
world-wide experience in high-yield family-based food production by Dr.
Jacob R. Mittleider. His background (20 years) as a commercial grower of
bedding plants, followed by 37 years learning, improving, teaching, and
demonstrating as he created 75 training programs in 27 countries, have given
him a unique perspective on how to grow the most healthy food in the least
space, with the least cost and effort per unit of production. That
experience is documented in the production of 9 books and 86 video lectures.
The books are available on the website (www.growfood.com), and as soon as we
can figure out how to do it right, we will have his video lectures on CD
and/or DVD, as well.
Dr. M. has combined, revised and adapted principles from commercial
hydroponic growing, greenhouse production, and truck farming into a
fine-tuned recipe of instructions that when followed will give you an
excellent, high-yielding garden in virtually any climate and any soil.
Comparing the Mittleider Method with traditional methods in chart form can
be helpful. You can do so by going to
http://www.foodforeveryone.org/gardening/different.shtml However, the best
way to find out is to create a Mittleider garden and experience for yourself
what it means to have more crisp, juicy, healthy vegetables in your small
home garden than you ever thought possible.
I hope everyone is working on doing that this year, and that you'll share
your successes (and your problems) with us, so that we can help you have the
greatest success possible.
My only text is Dr. Mittleider's 1975 Grow-Box Gardens book. Do I need more
up-to-date books or can I simply adapt by mixing commercial fertilizer with
the micro-nutrients from the web site?
For large gardens , mix your own from the formula on the website. Most
family-size gardens can get along fine with 16-16-16, the Micro-nutrients
from the website, and Epsom Salt from your pharmacy. Mixing instructions
are included in the Micro package.
What ratios and with what type of commercial fertilizer (the web site lists
three options) do I mix the micros for
a) the pre-planting mix and
b) the weekly nutrient mix?
If you are using the Micro-nutrients sold on the website, instructions are
included. You DO NOT add micro-nutrients to the Pre-Plant Mix. You can use
most NPK mixes with a decent degree of success. The Mittleider Magic Weekly
Feed mix is 13-8-13, so something close to that would be best.
Since I'm trying to stagger my production of lettuce, my grow box won't ever
be full. Is that OK?
It doesn't matter if the Grow-Box is full of vegi's. You might use Duct
tape on the PVC pipes if you are using them - to avoid wasting water.
How do I calculate the amount of fertilizer needed for the weekly feeds? and
If I'm going to be harvesting one row of lettuce at a time, do I simply stop
feeding that row two weeks before harvest?
Use 1 ounce of Weekly Feed for 2 feet of bed or box - usually two rows of
plants with nutrients placed between them and watered in.
Stop feeding 3 weeks before harvesting for a single-harvest crop.
Thoughts on "organic materials"
quote from Food For Everyone, by Dr. M. "all crop residues should be
returned to the soil unless they are insect-infested, diseased, or in the
way of the next crop to be grown." And for those who'd like to read about
Utah's "Zoo-Doo Man", please go to this link
Some of the folks in the group may appreciate the extent of Jacob
Mittleider's work ethic and attention to detail and record keeping by
knowing that he is the holder of 11 plant patents - all earned between 1945
and 1963 - for flowers he developed while in the nursery business.
The 2-1-2 ratio for NPK was determined after exhaustive experimentation in
thousands of field-growing situations. Dr. M already knew the relative
usage of the three in plants was quite similar to that - even closer to
3-1-3 or 4-1-4 or higher in some plants - but he was growing acreage crops
to keep people alive in all these countries, and over the course of time
settled on 110# nitrogen, 60# phosphate, and 110# potash per acre as the
best single figure that would work well for most all field crops (he had to
observe the KISS principle). That squares quite well with published figures
for actual usage per acre of NPK by vegetable crops - although different
studies report different amounts for the same crop, for example corn is
reported as using 110-50-110 in one study and 145-71-141 in another.
Nowadays his findings are being supported by some of the large fertilizer
companies, such as Scotts and Growth Products. Scotts sells Pete-Lite
Special as a complete nutrient mix, with 20-10-20 and 7 other minerals, plus
they recommend adding 397# of calcium carbonate per ton. And Growth
Products, Ltd sells a 14-7-14 formula with 6 other minerals that they say is
"in the 2-1-2 ratio that the horticultural industry favors." They
recommend that mix be used on all types of plants, and while the formula
does not include calcium or magnesium, they recommend their Cal Mag Max be
used at alternate feedings of the 14-7-14.
There are literally tons of potassium per acre in most soils - however,
usually less than 1% is available to the plants at any given time. We add it
because visual symptoms have so often indicated it was deficient in the
plant. And it's inexpensive - a 60% potassium sulfate is less than $.10 per
pound in bulk (by the ton).
We mix one feeding of Weekly Feed in the soil before planting, so some
phosphorus is available that way, however, in spite of the reported
inability of phosphorus to move more than about 1" in the soil, I have many
times seen a deficiency corrected quickly by the banded application of a
corrective treatment on the soil surface and watered in.
The comment on the website and in some books "Use fertilizer to control
weeds between plants." just refers to the tendency of the salts in
concentrated fertilizer to burn plants on contact. Applying it down the
center of the soil-bed between plant rows somewhat inhibits the growth of
weeds there, but we still need to use the scuffle hoe occasionally.
Cost per growbed for nutrients
If you buy micro-nutrients from the Foundation, you'll pay $13 for anough to make 47# of Weekly Feed.
You should be able to get 50# of 16-16-16 for $8 or thereabouts. And 3# of Epsom Salt normally costs about $3
$24 for 47# gives about $.50 per pound. This compares favorably with the retail cost of the pre-packaged Weekly Feed, which at $14 for 20# costs $70 per pound.
On the other hand, if you were to buy your materials in bulk quantities (N,P, K calcium, and magnesium by the ton, and the others in 50# bags) the material costs historically have been between $300 and $350 per ton, or $.15 to $.175 per pound.
Please remember, you're using something that has 13 nutrients, rather than Miracle Grow, which has 9 and costs 3-4 times as much as Weekly Feed.