Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Can I use old tires to make my raised beds?

You may want to check out this URL:

http://www.noble. org/ag/horticult ure/raisedbedgar dening/RecycledT ireBeds.html

I have been using old tires for planting beds for about 20 years now
and have nothing
but good things to say about them.

Another resource that you may want to check out:

"Tire Recycling Is Fun" book by Paul Farber (do a Google search)

Hope this helps you...

Glen Mentgen

--- In MittleiderMethodGar dening@yahoogrou, Tim Randles
> I was thinking about using used tires to build up the beds, cut in
> half like a pie ("C" shaped )and bolting them together to make a
> series of beds, there is a huge supply of these tires available free
> locally, and the cost/benefit/ effort to cut and drill and bolt is
minimal compared
> to other methods which would deteriorate over time ( except stone).
> Stacked 3 or 4 rows high, it could be a nice retainer for raised
> beds..clean, long lasting, inexpensive. .
> I have a very large dugout and was originally thinking of using the
tires as
> a retaining wall around the outside of it, and it occured to me
that it
> would possibly work as raised beds on flat and sloped grounds if I
cut and bolt them together
> I'm sure there are pro's and con's to it, and since there isn't
> new under the sun, maybe someone here has info on this kind of
> and can pass it on?
> Cheers.. Tim

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to start a garden from scratch

How to Start a Garden from the Beginning

Hi Jim, I am inspired by your plan and your leadership on this forum. I am
ready to take the plunge and go Mittleider next year, but have no clue where to

I have plenty of land that has been vacant for 20 years. I mow it off a couple
times per year to keep the weeds from taking over but that's about it, lots of
shade and old old old horse manure for the garden as my starting point. I plan
to cut back some trees to fix the shade problem but beyond that not sure where
to start.

Here is what I have gathered as a plan from the website:

1. lightly till (1-2 inches) to break up the grass, weeds etc
2. rake all the weeds and grass roots out that I can
3. put on the recommended pre plant treatment
4. till it all in
5. wait for spring to build my beds up

My problem is, I don't know what the pre plant should be, I don't know how to
plan the garden layout, whether I should put up a small greenhouse to start, or
put the small grow-houses over top of my beds etc..

Any resources I should definitely get? Any pointers or directions you can give


In a situation where you have many years of growth, and the area is large, I
recommend you bring in a blade and scrape off the top 2-4" of soil and weeds.
That way you will remove not only the weeds, but also the weed seeds, and all of
the rhizomes and runners of the grasses and other perennial weeds. If you use a
tiller they will just be chopped up, and every one will become 5 or 10 potential
new plants.

DO NOT put the Pre-Plant mix into the entire area. You would be wasting more
than 70% by doing that. Wait until you have your beds staked out and apply
fertilizers only to the growing area.

From your questions I will assume you are going to build 18" soil-beds.
Following are the first steps to preparing your garden. Much of it you can do
in the Fall, but I'd wait until Spring to fertilize (except the horse manure if
you need to use it) and finish the beds, unless you're going to do a fall

1) Use nylon strings and stakes to outline your garden perimeter. Plan ahead so
that you have room for full-length beds if possible.

2) Measure and stake beds and side aisles - 18" and 3 1/2' are recommended. Do
this on opposite ends of your garden area, then run strings between the stakes.

3) Make your beds 30' long by putting end stakes at 30', then 35' (for 5'
end-aisles), then 65' and 70', etc.

4) Cut the strings, tying one end and looping the other once around the stake
tightly and lifting the string over itself to hold in place. This is important
so that you can move the strings out of the way quickly and easily when it comes
time to till, weed, etc.

5) Till the aisles only 1 1/2 to 2" deep, then pull that soil from the aisles
into the beds, starting in the middle of the aisle and pulling both directions.
This should leave all your 18" bed areas 4" to 5" higher than the aisles.

6) After making the soil uniform and smooth beneath the strings, level the beds
by using a straight 8'-long board with a string level glued to the center.
Determine which end is low, and how much, then move soil from the high half to
the low half until level. You should have no more than 1+" drop in a 30'-long

7) Smooth the top again, making sure the soil is directly under the strings and
the same width throughout the length of the bed. Double-check the level and
correct if necessary.

8) Apply Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed nutrients 2 ounces and 1 ounce per running
foot and till thoroughly into the soil to a depth of 8+".

9) Re-smooth and level the bed, then pull soil from the center of the bed to the
strings until you have a planting area 2+" higher than the aisles and 4"-high
ridges on both sides.

10) Smooth and re-check the level, and make sure the planting area is 10-12"

Your beds are now ready to plant - in the Fall probably not much more than
garlic will go into the ground.

For a simple Pre-Plant mix you will mix calcium, magnesium, and boron in the
ratio of 80-4-1. And Weekly Feed can be made quite easily with the
Micro-Nutrients from the Foundation website plus NPK and Epsom Salts, per
instructions on the Micro bag.

I recommend you build a seedling greenhouse ASAP if you are serious about
growing a large garden. In a 20'X 40' greenhouse with tables inside and out you
can grow 20,000 seedlings at a time. The plans are available in the Files
section of this group. They are also Appendix D of the Mittleider Gardening
Course, and pictorially displayed and taught in Grow-Bed Gardening.

Jim Kennard

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How can I make my own Mittleider method fertilizer

I am a farmer from the philippines and will be using completely the
mittleider method. I just downloaded a copy of the Mittleider
Gardening Course and I'm also using an old Mittleider book, Grow-Bed

before I will fully implement this system, I have some questions
regarding fertilization. I hope you won't mind.

1. MITTLEIDER FORMULA. I am having a hard time looking for phosphorus
because this is not widely sold in my place. So I have decided to use 14-14-14. the problem is how much of 14-14-14 should I mix in relation to the other ingredients like calcium nitrate, boron, iron copper and the rest? by the way, aside from P I can't find Molybdenum either.

(I recommend you buy a package or two of the Micro-Nutrients available on the website at www.growfood. com, then mix one packet with 20# of the 14-14-14 and 3# of Epsom Salt for a good Weekly Feed mix - JK)

2. CONSTANT FEED SOLUTION. I am planning to try this system to my two
grow boxes measuring 4'X28'X8". in my old book, it says I will be
using around 450grams of the weekly feed thus my two boxes will be
requiring 900 grams. I intend to mix this amount in my 30 gallon tank
and feed my plants once a week. however, I also read about 1 ounce per gallon of water solution every time you water. I really do not know what to follow now. what is the recommended rate in fertigation
technique and the frequency of application?

(Do not mix the fertilizers with water and feed that concentrated mix to your plants once per week. It is too strong and you will burn your plants!

For a 4 X 28' box you should apply 28 ounces (800 grams) of Weekly Feed and 56 ounces (1,600 grams) of Pre-Plant Mix to the soil and mix it in BEFORE planting. Then each week apply 14 ounces (400 grams) of Weekly Feed to the top of the soil in the middle of two rows of plants - twice, since you should have 4 rows of plants in your 4'-wide box - and then water them into the soil.

You use the Constant Feed solution of 12 ounces (340 grams) Weekly Feed in 30 gallons of water and water with it daily, but this is usually only done when growing seedlings - not in the garden - JK).

3. PAPAYA, BANANA AND ASPARAGUS. I have these plants in my farm but
the two references I have do not have the specific method of feeding
them. can you please give the exact amount to feed and frequency so I
will enjoy the benefits of the Mittleider system in my farm.

(To be able to assist you in feeding your Papaya and Banana plants I need to know their size and how many months it takes the variety you're growing to reach maturity and produce a harvest. Asparagas usually is fed 3 or 4 times for each harvest - JK).

By the way, I used the temporary fertilizer mix and it is doing wonders in some of flowers. That is why I have decided to fully embrace this system.

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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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