Friday, March 09, 2007

Commerical growers question about the Mittleider method

Q. 1) In Dr Mittleider books I have found different sizes for the grow boxes, please tell me what is the best size and 2) what are the quantities of fertilizers that should be used (pre-plant and weekly feed).3) Do you think it is good to feed sweet potatoes (or any vegetable) weekly?4) Do you think it is wise to plant vegetables (sweet potatoes, yam, dachine) in the soil or should I always use grow boxes?5) What is the best distance between sweet potato plants?6) Do you think that all fruit trees should receive the same fertilizers or different fruit trees require different types of fertilizers? What about the amount of fertilizers. I have citrus trees (oranges, mandarines, tangerines, limons) mangoes, avocadoes, bread fruit , banana trees, etc).Some trees look very good, but others not too good. The trees are not very old (about 10 years).7) What do you think should be the best fertilizer for sugar cane

A. 1) For commercial production 4'-wide boxes are probably the best and most productive. You can plant 2 rows of the climbing or tall plants in them and 4 rows of other large plants. You can even plant more than four rows of small things like radishes, carrots, leaf lettuce, etc. With most plants - climbing or large vegetables - you should plant at the edges and 12" in, leaving a 2' open area in the center of the bed. This is essential for adequate light to get to all plants as they grow and mature. 2) Fertilizer should be applied at the rate of 1 ounce per running foot of row for Pre-PLant Mix, and 1/2 ounce per running foot of row for Weekly Feed. Both are applied before planting, and mixed with the soil. 3) This should be done for EVERY vegetable and fruit you grow. Application of Weekly Feed should be once every week, until 3 weeks before harvest, for single-crop varieties. It should be applied until 8 weeks before the end of harvest for ever-bearing crops. It should be placed 4" from the plant stems, down the length of the row, and the watering will - over the week - take it into the soil at the root zone of the plants. 4) Everything can be grown successfully in either soil or Grow-Boxes. If your soil is particularly bad you may choose to grow in boxes. This will often minimize problems with bugs and diseases, although those can migrate into the soil-less mixture over time, requiring that it be replaced after a few years, unless you cover your ground with something like roofing material first. 5) Planting can be closer than traditional methods. It also depends on the size and variety. We have planted sweet potatoes closer than 12" and as far apart as 14", and a 4"-wide bed will accommodate 4 rows. An 18" bed will allow 2 rows of all plants except climbing plants, which should have only one row. 6 & 7) I recommend you use the Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed, without any changes, on every plant you grow. This includes trees, bushes, flowers, and even grass (and sugar cane). The amounts and frequency will vary greatly, depending on the size and growing habits. Fertilizing trees should be done twice each year - once at budding time, and again when the fruit is forming. Amounts to use depend on the size of the tree. Look in the FAQ section of the website under Trees to find an article about feeding trees. It's true that some plants and trees use a little more of one element than another. The Mittleider natural mineral nutrients are complete, balanced formulas that have enough of every required element that you will seldom see a deficiency. Make sure you have the Mittleider Garden Doctor set on hand. Then, if you do see a deficiency developing you can quickly identify it and apply the correct dosage of the needed mineral. This is far better than trying to develop a separate fertilizer for each type of crop, for smaller growers. When you get to the point where you are growing many acres of a single crop, then you can get more sophisticated and custom mix your fertilizers for that crop.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Starting your garden indoors

Growing plants need maximum light from the time they first peek their heads above ground. If all you have is the Grow-Lights, they need to be on at least 16 hours per day, every day, with the lights 1" from the plant leaves. Growing with Grow-Lights is just a temporary measure, however, until you have access to real sunlight!Eight to twelve hours of direct sunlight - even through greenhouse plastic - is better than 16 hours of the best Grow-Lights.So, you use the Grow-Lights until you have direct sunlight, and then use direct sunlight. If you have sunlight, but it doesn't amount to 8-10 hours, then supplement with the Grow-Lights. You need two hours of Grow-Lights for each hour of needed sunlight.Tomatoes should be in the greenhouse about 8 weeks before putting out in the garden. If it is going to be longer than that before you can put them out, decrease the daytime temperatures a bit to slow the growth down. Under normal conditions you want temperatures of 65-85 degrees in the greenhouse during the daytime, to promote fast, healthy growth.Jim Kennard

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

My 2007 Mittleider Tomato garden

Just a few of the Tomato plants I am growing this year

Roma tomatoes
Delicious Tomato
Yellow Pear Tomato
Brandywine Tomato
Betterboy Hybrid
Hybrid Big Red Tomato