Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mittleider method testimonial AWESOME

(Beth in Leavenworth Kansas, Zone 5b close to 6a.)
About three years ago (2003) my sister-in-law (in Utah) and I would work hard to reach our common goal. We both wanted to have gardens that would be able to feed our families for the year. We were always searching for a better, easier ways because it took sooo… much time out of our day. Hours. We used different ways. I had a small plot with traditional rows (my husband and I live on a double lot) with majority of clay. I had come to the conclusion that a garden that could feed our family would be impossible to keep up and run a house at the same time.
She had a small plot with bad soil and a limited income. She would take even more time for she had all of her tomatoes in recycled 5 gallon buckets and would move them in and out of the sun when it was to hot.
Then the summer of 2004 she told me about this incredible fertilizer that saved her life. I thought "I'm too pooped to try a new recipe of horse tea." But it was her raving and the web site http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MittleiderMethodGardening/ and http://www.foodforeveryone.org/fertilizers that got my attention. Her tomatoes were growing gang busters. She also told me of her new little green house that she had a hundred starts in. With her limited income she built it very low to the ground and she would crawl in on her back and water each day. She is so creative and industrious but watering on my back was a little too much for me.

The Mittleider methods of gardening were so different than the traditions that I had learned growing up. I was not able to trust them all at once. I clung to compost, horse tea, mulching, watering by hand or soak hoses that took an hour, pulling weeds when they were big enough to grab or give shade, and buying starts. It's hard to let go of old traditions so I started with just the grow beds, fertilizer and irrigation. Over the winter I studied everything at the foundation and ordered the fertilizer and made the irrigation system. That's when I found the Mittleider green house plans and was relieved to learn they were walk in.
In my 2005 garden there was a difference in the size of the tomato plants and the pruning made them produce more. The zucchini were growing. I had never picked a zucchini off my plants in past years and now I had enough for the neighbors. My time in the garden was cut in half. I did go though happy withdrawals missing the therapy of pulling weeds, instead I was in the kitchen making yummy fresh fried zucchini in a little olive oil, basil, tomato and a little onion.
My neighbor would come out as I was weeding and praise my garden and talked of calling the news paper. It was then that I wished I had completely trusted the Mittleider method. I knew from the web site how good it could have been. I had started late with the fertilizer, needed to place the plants closer and level the rows better.

The 2006 garden I have implemented most of the changes as I could afford them. I've added more rows of irrigation and changed direction of the grow beds to create a level irrigation flow (Very important!) I've added lots of sand down the rows and in the cracks. Fertilizing just right, I planted tomatoes close as directed, strung up on bamboo. Cantaloupe, cabbage, lettuce, herbs and sweet potatoes are now fun to grow. This year the garden is starting to take shape.
I take my timer to the garden and this year I'm only spending 5-30 minutes each day. If the timer goes off I save the work to the next day. Monday is water (1 min per row everyday using the timer. On those really hot days I also water 1 min. at noon) and pruning. Tuesday is water and wind string around climbing plants. Wednesday is water, weed and fertilize (Now that the summer is hot and dry the weeds don't grow. I take a shovel and pop out a couple die hard dandelions) Thursday is water and weed. Friday is water and weed. Saturday is water and fertilize. Sunday is water.
Next year (this fall) I'm changing my single rows to 4' double irrigation and I'm adding T-frames. Then I will feel confident to speak to the Media. I would love to help spread the word to my local community. The Extension Center may be a good place to start.

I love talking to people about the Mittleider Method. It is a time saver compared to the traditional methods and it is beautiful.
I would like to use it as a source of income. Maybe I could use some print outs from your files as brochures. Would I use your bag design? Is a small cement mixer adequate to mix the fertilizer? Can I start this fall? Get the community in a progressive mood looking ahead? Kind of priming the pump?
I would like to take the Master Gardener course to add credibility.
Though the garden this year is still trial size as I'm working out the little hang ups on a small scale i.e. exactly how level is level enough, soil deficiencies, discouraging the deer, and controlling the bugs. I now am confident that a garden big enough to feed my family is not only controllable but will be a focal point of beauty.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

How to harvest black walnuts to eat and plant

Walnut seeds won't germinate immediately when planted because they
are in a dormant state, and you must break their dormancy before the
seed can germinate. Both scarification and stratification are
required to break a walnut seed's dormant state, for germination to
The black walnut's dormancy is caused by the thick, hard seed coat.
Breaking or weakening the seed coat is referred to as scarification,
and is the first step necessary to break the seed's dormancy. A
metal file or coarse sandpaper can be used, but is difficult and
time consuming, unless you have a power sander.

Treatment with boiling water also works. Place seeds in water of
170 to 210 degrees F. Make sure it's not boiling! After the water
cools, seeds should continue to soak for 12 to 24 hours. The process
is slow, because you need to use 10-20 times the volume of hot water
as seed.

Whatever scarification method you use, you must be careful not to
damage the embryo inside. Once scarified, seeds will not store well
and should be planted as soon as possible after treatment.

If scarification is done naturally after planting the seed coat may
be broken by microbial action, exposure to alternate freezing and
thawing, or fire. Depending on nature to scarify your seeds may
require leaving them in the ground longer than one year.

The second step in breaking the black walnut seed's dormancy is
stratification. This requires being exposed to cool temperatures
and moist conditions for several months. Winter weather in the
Northern USA provides the necessary conditions to break dormancy

You can also break the seed's dormancy by stratification in a
refrigerator. Using a coffee can, plastic jar, cottage cheese
container, or a plastic bag, place the seed in a moist 50:50 mixture
of sand and peat-moss. Punch holes in the lid of the container to
provide air.

Let's take the process from the start: Collect your walnuts
immediately after they fall to the ground – before the squirrels get
them. Remove the husks, then place the nuts in water. Nuts that
float are not viable and should be discarded. The viable nuts will
sink to the bottom.

Scarify your nuts, and plant 1 to 2" deep in the fall or stratify
the nuts in a refrigerator at 34 to 41°F for 90 to 120 days and
plant in the spring. Use the natural soil, or Grow-Boxes that are
open to the soil beneath the box, because walnuts produce a long

Prepare the soil with Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed, then after the
seedlings emerge feed 3 times each year. Walnut seedlings grow
fast, and it's recommended they be transplanted into the orchard
within 2 years after germination, unless you have tree-planting

Jim Kennard