Tuesday, August 15, 2006

hybrid or heirloom here we go again u make the call

Q. What's the difference between heirloom and hybrid seeds? And which type of seeds is better for the home gardener to use?

A. Heirloom seeds breed true, meaning that the fruit from seed you harvest from the current plant will be the same as the current plant and its fruit, generation after generation. This means that if you like the current harvest you can use the seeds with confidence that they will give you the same thing next time, and every time.

Hybrid seeds have been cross-bred to achieve improvements in flavor, productivity, disease resistance, holding capacity, or other characteristics which people want and request. However, the next generation cannot be counted on to be the same as the original plant, and thus we need to continue buying seed from the seed grower to be assured of the same end result.

Producing seeds in your own garden is no big problem if you're growing crops with seeds in the fruit, such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. However, for things like lettuce, cabbage, and onions you have to let the plant stay in the garden while it "goes to seed" - sometimes for as long as a second year.

This can make a mess of your garden, and foul up your plans for continuing to grow food to eat.

Harvesting, drying, and saving the seeds are also problems to consider before deciding to grow your own seeds.

I recommend people get the best advantages of both hybrid and heirloom plants by buying and using the world's best vegetables and fruits from reputable seed companies, and buying a #10 can of 16 varieties of high quality triple-sealed heirloom seeds from the Food For Everyone Foundation at www.foodforeveryone.org/store.

Store the can of seeds in a cool dry place, and you will have the protection of good heirloom seeds for many years, while at the same time your family harvests and eats the best produce possible.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Yes you can be a commercial grower with the Mittleider method

Becoming Self-Sufficient With a Small Market Garden
Author: Jim Kennard

Q. Can a family be totally self-sustaining by using between 1 and 2 acres to grow, eat, and sell food?

A. Yes! As a matter of fact, families in many countries are doing it, and they often have gardens much smaller than 1 acre. However, you should consider carefully what you are getting into. I'll paint a picture of the problems first, then show you how blessed you are to be using the best possible growing methods for a family garden, and finally I'll give you some ideas as to what and how to grow your market garden.

I. Considerations Before Beginning
Your income depends on what you choose to grow, and how well you follow through in the growing process. It also depends on how well you learn the financial and marketing aspects of the job. Growing corn is easy, but doesn't produce much for the amount of space used, or pay well, unless you like to eat corn stalks. And someone has to sell the produce and pay the bills, which take substantial time and effort by themselves!

"Self-sustaining" requires very different amounts of food and money, depending on the family size, the standard of living expected, and the debt load you expect the garden to carry. Debt of $3,000-5,000 per month requires a much greater effort to cover than a debt-free situation.

Location is also a factor. People in warm climates can often grow into or even right through the winter, while colder climates have a shorter season. Both locations can improve your production by using the Foundation's methods. Warm climates may require lots of water and even a little shade at the hottest times, while cold climates often require more greenhouse seedling production and covering garden crops in spring and fall to extend the season.

Before getting seriously into gardening you need to understand the commitment involved, and be willing to do it right. Our grandparents grew gardens, and also often owned animals. They understood the necessity of working every day to feed, water, and care for their animals and plants. Regrettably, we've forgotten this requirement, as 99% of us have chosen other ways to make a living, and become dependent on the 1% who are highly competent farmers to feed us all.

You must understand and accept that there is very little respite for vacations, etc. during the growing season. A good garden requires your attention on a daily basis!

On the other hand you, and especially your children, will benefit greatly by having a fixed and important responsibility that requires daily commitment and real effort to accomplish. Think of it as a paper route without the 2:30 A.M hours, the driving, the danger, barking dogs, etc.

And one last consideration: A hundred years ago, everyone used manure and compost, and it was a fairly level playing field between the family gardener and the market farmer. Not so today! Your competition includes hydroponic growers who have invested over a million dollars per acre in buildings and equipment, as well as dozens of employees doing the work. And by feeding and watering their plants accurately many times each day, they're growing 330
TONS of tomatoes per acre each year!

II. You have a big advantage over other small market gardens. Is all of this daunting? Have you decided to just give up and forget about growing your own food? I certainly hope NOT, because it's important for you and your family to grow a garden for many very valid reasons, which we can't address in this article.

Understand this. You can produce much more in less space, using the Foundation's methods, than other small market growers are doing, so just GO FOR IT!

The website at www.growfood.com, the books, CD's and videos will teach you the gardening principles and procedures by which you will grow your successful market garden. In studying these things, remember that this unique gardening method has been proven highly effective in thousands of situations, in dozens of countries all around the world. It's a recipe! It WILL work to give you a great garden – in any soil and in virtually any climate. But you MUST follow the recipe.

III. Creating Your Own Successful Market Garden
How do you prepare?
1. START SMALL! Don't plant more than you can care for properly, and sell or use.
2. Determine the market or markets you will sell to: a) Wholesalers, b) small grocery stores, c) restaurants, d) farmers' markets, e) roadside stand, or f) home delivery.
3. Learn what vegetables you should grow by determining those that: a) sell well, b) at a good price, c) that you can grow readily.
4. Build proper facilities including a) a seedling greenhouse with tables, b) T-Frames and c) a good watering system. These are essential for success at this level.
5. Set up a formal accounting system, including account names and numbers for every category of asset, liability, equity, income, and expense. Get help from your CPA.
6. Stock up on tools, seeds, and fertilizers, and be sure to include all those costs, as well as your labor, in figuring your market prices.

You'll have to meet or beat your competition's prices to sell your produce at
the beginning. However, by growing more, bigger, fresher, tastier, and healthier produce than others, you will develop a loyal customer base, and then you can adjust your prices as needed.

In choosing what to grow, consider a) the ease of growing, b) cost and risk of loss, and c) the value of the crop. Cabbage is quite easy to grow; it can be started in early spring when many other crops would die; it only requires about 60 days to mature, so you may get 2 or even 3 crops in a year. However, it doesn't bring a very high price in the market, so you must decide if it's worth it
or not. And sometimes the need to rotate your crops will be a factor.

Let's look at some scenarios of what could be grown and sold from one acre of ground, with good care and decent weather, and without losses from bugs and diseases (by strictly following the Mittleider Method you will minimize your crops' susceptibility to those things):

Soil-Bed Garden – 250 30'-long Beds
Beans-pole – 120 plants per bed, 1.5# per plant, $.50/# $22,500
Corn – 92 plants per bed, 1 ear per plant, $.10/ear 2,300
Cucumbers – 45 plants per bed, 8# per plant, $.25/# 22,500
Potatoes – 92 plants per bed, 2.5# per plant, $.10/# 5,750
Tomatoes – 40 plants per bed, 10# per plant, $.50/# 50,000

The above examples are estimates only, and the actual results could be – and have been – much higher or lower, depending on many factors, including experience, weather, direct retail marketing vs. wholesale sales, etc.

If you are growing for the retail market using a roadside stand or farmers' market booth, you will probably want a fairly wide variety of produce, to bring customers in. While corn has low value in terms of yield for a given amount of space, it is VERY popular with customers when it's fresh, so you may well treat it as a "Loss Leader" and have it available. But don't try to plant too many
vegetable varieties. Ten or twelve key vegetable types are far easier to handle than twenty to thirty. And three varieties of tomatoes are usually enough. I would plant Big Beef, Italia Mia or other Roma, and Grape tomatoes. One planting of Blue Lake or other pole beans will allow you to sell beans all season.

If your customers are restaurants, you will need to grow the specific things they use, such as specialty lettuces, tomatoes, Ichiban eggplant, small red potatoes, etc. And you may need to plant a few beds of the single-crop things every week, to have them maturing throughout the season.

If your primary market is the large grocery store or wholesale suppliers, they will usually want a large steady supply of a few things, so you may be able to plant everything to the "money" crops of beans, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, or multiple plantings of lettuces and other quick-growing crops.

I encourage everyone to find joy working in nature by the sweat of your brow, and sharing in God's wonderful process of creation

You can teach the Mittleider Method

You Can Teach the Mittleider Method ! Give Seminars Using The Foundation's Materials.
Author: Jim Kennard

The Tremendous body of knowledge that is the Mittleider Method needs to be spread to every family who is a candidate for growing a vegetable garden! Do you agree? Or do you have too little experience to decide just yet. If you're in that category I recommend you read this anyway, and consider getting the videos I'll describe - for your own education and enjoyment.

I am happy to conduct 1/2-day Gardening Seminars for large groups anywhere throughout the Spring season, so long as I have the time and my costs are covered. Many of you have hosted me, and I believe it's been a highly productive and pleasant experience for everyone who's attended. If you have a large group that wants me, I recommend you begin now to schedule a time.

But I can only be a few places in the course of a Spring season, and there are thousands of you in locations I can't get to who could benefit yourselves and your neighbors with a 1/2-day seminar. WHY NOT CONDUCT ONE (or a few!) YOURSELVES!!!

The Foundation has 2 Power Point presentations, one for large gardens and one for small gardens - each about 2 hours long, with written scripts that could be read and presented using a computer and projector. I also have outlined in detail the garden part of the seminar - where everyone gets their hands in the soil and learns how to make a bed, plant seeds and seedlings properly, and even build and erect T-Frames.

In addition, I have a copy of a 2 1/2-hour classroom presentation done by myself in Manti, Utah, which I will have to get permission to duplicate, but which I believe could be very instructive, and could either be the thing used, or at least could teach you how to do it, and how to answer questions that are posed by those in attendance.

Is anyone interested? I would LOVE to see several hundred of you - preferably those who have enough experience yourselves that you can feel confident in what you are saying and showing - take these materials and teach your neighbors and friends, church members or garden club members, and have thousands of families experience "a great garden in any soil, and in any climate" this year.

PLease give me your feedback. I'll have to charge a little something for the CD's, but if enough of you want them, and if I can get permission to use the live Manti program, I believe all three could be had for under $30 plus shipping.

Some of you who have had a successful experience with the seminars, will you please post to the group with comments or a testimonial? My saying it was good isn't all that believable, in comparison to those of you on the receiving end telling what really happened in your gardens as a result of a seminar you attended.

Thanks for your interest and support of sound gardening principles and procedures. Let's all have a great gardening year, and spread it around!

Jim Kennard, President
Food For Everyone Foundation
"Teaching the world to grow food one family at a time."

T frame construction

How do I build the T-Frames you recommend for vertical growing?
Author: Jim Kennard

Graphically illustrated instructions for building and installing T-Frames are contained in the Mittleider Gardening Course - advanced section, Chapter 15, as well as other books. Here are the "guts" of it. For a 30' Soil-Bed or Grow-Box, buy 6 - 8' treated 4 X 4's. Cut two of them into 6 equal-sized pieces 32" long. Four 32" lengths become the top of the T. The other two 32" 4 X 4 lengths then are cut into 4 equal-sized braces using 45 degree-angle cuts as follows: Measure and mark 10 5/8" along the bottom edge, then 3 5/8", then 10 5/8", then 3 5/8". On the top edge, measure and mark 3 1/2", then 3 5/8", then 10 5/8", then 3 5/8". Draw lines between these marks, then, using a table saw, cut on the lines. Pre-drill through the top center of the 32" tops, then use a 6" spike to nail into the 8' post. Screw or nail the braces to the top and post. Bury 15" in the ground at 10' (or shorter) intervals. Use #8 gage wire and eyebolts between the T-Frames, or use 1/2" galvanized pipe (held in place by two nails). If you want to extend the growing season, use 2 X 4's on edge, and make an arched canopy with 3/4" PVC and 45 degree Slip fittings every 2', then cover in early Spring and late Fall with 6 mil clear plastic.

Jim Kennard