Monday, November 24, 2008

How to plant a Mittleider garden on a hillside

I am gardening on a hillside. I just started digging and then I hit upon the idea of having terraces about two to three feet wide and then directly below that I dig a 12" trench for walking that is about a foot lower than the next terrace. Then walking along this trench the terrace above is about waist high very handy for tending. I just did this last summer, so I am not sure how everything will work as far as erosion, although the walking trench also keeps the rain on each terrace. I'm thinking of planting alfalfa or clover on the sides of the terraces. I have 6 terraces about 20 feet long.


In one sentence you say the walking "trench" is just a foot lower than the next terrace, and in the next sentence you say that the terrace above is "waist high". So I don't understand the seeming inconsistency. I'm probably missing something.

Anyway, I'll explain how Dr. Mittleider learned to do it the very best way.

The planting beds should be 18" wide, with ridges 4" high to hold water. Normally the aisles are 3 or 3 1/2' wide, and that's it.

However, with Grow-Boxes, and even sometimes in the soil, Dr. M. created 4'-wide boxes or beds. In those situations the plants were planted in rows 10-12" apart near the outside edges, with 2' center "aisles". In boxes the aisles are not used for walking at all, and in the soil they're not used more than necessary.

The plants really need that 2' center aisle for light and space to grow.

When growing on a slope you should always do it on a slope that FACES the sun, otherwise you will suffer for lack of direct sunlight.

On a South-facing slope you can have 4'-side beds (if the slope isn't too steep to allow it) and 3'-wide aisles. the measurements need to be horizontal, and the measurements down the slope will then be a little wider. The slope will provide more sunlight to the plants.

Erosion should be stopped by the growing plants and the ridges. If there is no soil in which to grow, but only rocky terrain, then build boxes and fill them with the sawdust and sand mix.

Dr. Mittleider changed the economy in Okinawa by showing those people how to grow on their steep hillsides, which were everywhere on the North of the island.

Jim Kennard

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Anonymous Cajean said...

Clever chap, Dr. Mittleider! I'll pass along these directions to our friends in Malawi...just in case they've missed something. :-)


8:25 PM  

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