Tuesday, October 20, 2009

All about the Mittleider Organic Gardening Program

Welcome to the Mittleider Gardening Program. It is a proven, efficient, High-yield method with a 100 percent record of success in growing vegetables and field crops for 39 years, in 29 countries and 77 separate demonstrations around the world. This booklet is a capsule form of the procedures:

Part I - General Information:
1. Soil is soil, whether sand, calcareous, clay, adobe, gravely, rocks, peat, no red worms, no humus, etc. Land quality is not a major concern.

2. There are only two kinds that cannot be used:
A. Soils in or under standing water.
B. Toxic soils, meaning they contain high levels of toxic chemicals. Examples: boron, aluminum, sodium, etc.

3. Nearly all soils available to gardeners are poor, hard, or rocks, and devoid of humus and red worms.

4. If this is the picture of your soil you have nothing to fear. Follow the simple outlines that follow and you will be rewarded with the healthiest, tastiest produce that can be grown.

5. No previous gardening experience is necessary. If you have only rocks, then study the information on Grow-Boxes. Yes you can grow vegetables on rocks.

6. If you have land (dirt), whether good or bad, study the information on Soil-Beds. You can use the very poorest ground just as it is - no amendments are needed.

7. Plants, like people, need 16 nutrients. Three (carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) come from the air. Thirteen can be regulated by man. A complete nutrient mix, containing all thirteen nutrients, has been developed and is available in many places as Mittleider Magic Weekly Feed. Giving your plants all the essential nutrients will let you grow a great garden in any soil, in any climate, with a minimum of cost and effort per unit of production, simply by following the instructions below.

8. Materials list - String, hammer, pick axe, stakes (4/bed), shovel, 12" rake, scuffle hoe, spirit level, fertilizers (Mittleider Magic or Part III (5)(E) & Part VIII.

Part II - Soil Bed Gardening:

1. Soil Beds are narrow strips of land (dirt).

2. A standard size is 18" wide, 30' long. The length can vary, according to the slope of the land, or the size of your property, but the width should not vary. The aisles between the beds are 3 ½' wide.

3. The Soil Beds have ridges on both sides and a flat area 10" to 12" wide at the base (bottom) between the ridges.

4. The Soil Beds should be level and the ends of the beds are closed off to hold water in the narrow strip. However, in high rainfall areas the ends must be open for drainage.

5. Plants and/or seeds are planted on both sides of the 10" to 12" flat area.
6. Water is channeled along the base of the ridges between the two rows of plants.

7. There are two rows of most varieties of vegetables planted in each Soil-Bed. But cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, pole beans, and squash have only one row in a bed.

8. Plants are living things and need living space. Therefore, the space between plants varies from 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, and 21", depending on the variety (see seed packet,The Mittleider Gardening Course, or The Garden Master CD).

9. Granulated fertilizers are applied in a narrow band down the center of the bed where water is applied.

10. Some plants are natural climbers. Some others can be trained to grow vertically. Vertical growing has very specific advantages, including less space required and elimination of losses from insects, disease, and foot traffic.

Part III - Step By Step In Your Garden:

1. Choosing a garden plot:
A. Avoid trees, shade, shadows, strong winds, steep North slopes, low wet areas, etc.
B. Essential elements are sunlight (all day long if possible), drainage (gentle Southern slope is ideal), and adequate water.

2. Preparing the Plot:
Remove rocks, brush, annual and perennial weeds (dig up roots, rhizomes, and runners), and junk. Clear and haul away everything, down to the bare leveled ground. Install water supply to end of each Soil Bed. Enclose with good high fence.

3. Garden size:
Consider the amount of time available, the tools to use, whether hand tools or machines - roto-tiller, etc., the type of terrain - sloping or flat, and the size of your family. Only do what can be cared for comfortably and well. Measure, stake, and tie strings to define the garden perimeter.

4. Measure and stake the individual Soil Beds. The standard size bed is 18" wide, 30' long, with aisles between beds 3 ½', and aisles on the ends 5' wide.

5. Making the Soil Beds:
A. Tie two strings to the 4 stakes that outline the 18" wide Soil Beds.

B. With a common garden rake pull a little soil from the aisles (2-4"), on both sides, into the center of the 18" bed.

C. Flatten the ridge in the 18" bed.

D. Use a simple "Spirit-Level" attached to a straight 8' 2X2 board and level the Soil Bed. Do not level the aisles. To accomplish this, take soil from the high spots in the Soil Bed and put it on the low spots. If the slope is too steep to level, divide bed into 15' or even 10' sections. On steep hillsides shape and level beds along the contours of the slope.

E. Apply Pre-Plant nutrients evenly over the Soil Bed: Use Mittleider Magic Preplant Mix, or if unavailable, mix 5# lime (20+" annual rainfall) or gypsum, 4 oz Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate), and 1 oz Borax (Boron). Spread 2# of above formula, along with 1# 16-8-16, 16-16-16, or 20-20-20 compound per 30' bed.

F. Preparing the seedbed: Remove strings. Til Soil Bed thoroughly to a depth of 8" with Roto-tiller, if available. Otherwise use a round-headed long handle shovel, and break up any clods with the rake. Do not spade or til the aisles. Re-tie strings to stakes. Rake tilled soil back into bed area.

G. Make a 4" high ridge along each string, using the soil in the Soil Bed. Start with a small ridge first by pulling a little soil from the center of the Soil Bed to the string. Repeat 2 or 3 times, until the ridge is 4" high, and the flat area at the base of the ridges is 10" to 12" wide. This area should be slightly higher than the aisles for proper drainage. Re-check level.

Part IV - Planting - choosing seeds or plants for transplanting:
With the previous steps accomplished, the beds are ready for plants or seeds. Before deciding whether to plant seed or to transplant sturdy seedlings, consider this fact: "Reducing the number of days it takes a plant to grow and mature is the surest way to reduce the hazards and risks that result in loss and failures."

Nearly all plants can be transplanted. The few exceptions are carrots, radishes, and parsnips. These should be grown from seed sown directly where they will mature.

Heat, light, and water are the determining factors when growing seedlings for transplanting. One way is the time-tested and proven method called "cold frame", which is the cheapest and will produce good plants several weeks ahead of the time it is safe to plant sensitive crops in the garden.

Part V - The Cold Frame (the size is typically 4' X 6' X 3' high - but this can vary):

1. Dig a hole in the ground 4' X 6', and 3' deep.

2. Fill the hole 2' deep with horse manure.

3. Cover the manure with 12" (one foot) of clean sandy-loam soil.

4. Construct a frost-proof frame to place on this soil, 3' high on the North side, and 2' high on the South side.

5. Cover the frame with fiberglass, heavy plastic, or glass.

6. Scatter seeds in narrow furrows (depressions) made in the sandy-loam soil. Cover with 1/4" of sand. Do not plant more than you have room to transplant.

7. Water immediately, and keep soil moist. The manure will warm the soil and sprout the seed.

8. Transplant the seedlings after they have grown the first one or two pairs of true leaves.

9. Mark the soil in the "cold frame" with a space of 2" to 4" between the marks.

10. Transplant one plant per mark.

11. Water plants daily, or as often as necessary, always with a dilute Weekly Feed fertilizer solution (1 oz to 3 gallons water). If Mittleider Magic Weekly Feed is not available, see part VIII for Weekly Feed formula.

12. When weather permits, lift or remove the lid to expose the plants to full sunlight and provide fresh air.

Part VI - Planting seed in Soil Beds:

1. Prepare the beds as outlined in Part III above.

2. Make 2 furrows the length of the bed, one on each side of the 12" flat area.

3. Mix 1 teaspoon seed with 16 ounce can of sand or sawdust. Take a small amount of mixture in hand and with swing motion, throw into length of furrow (fast and eliminates later thinning - plants 2 30' rows).

4. Cover seeds with course sand (preferred). avoid covering with clay soil.

5. Keep beds moist until seedlings appear, but do not float seeds to the surface.

6. Follow Part VII procedures (below), starting with #10.

Part VII - Transplanting plants in Soil Beds:

1. Prepare the beds as outlined in Part III above.

2. If water is available, transplanting can be done in dry or damp soil.

3. After deciding which variety to transplant, mark the beds to show the space between the plants.

4. Water the seedlings which are to be transplanted beforehand.

5. Avoid losing the soil on the plant roots when lifting and taking to the garden.

6. Use your hand or a trowel to make a hole at a mark. The hole should be large enough and deep enough to accommodate the plant roots and plant stem below the crown (the growing tip) comfortably.

7. Set the plant deep - down to the crown if possible; but avoid dirt on the crown, which will kill the plant.

8. Fill the hole with soil around the plant, and firm it lightly.

9. Do not pack the soil around the plant.

10. After planting a bed, promptly apply 8 ounces ammonium nitrate (34-0-0) fertilizer in a narrow band down the center of the bed.

11. Water thoroughly to wet and settle the loose soil and dissolve the nitrogen.

12. Three days later, apply 1 pound of Mittleider Magic Weekly Feed fertilizer (if not available, see Part VIII for mixing instructions). Water after each application.

13. Thereafter, apply 1 pound Weekly Feed fertilizer per bed once every seven days for 4 to 7 applications - depending on the variety of the crop.

Part VIII - The Weekly Feed fertilizer formula - when Mittleider Magic Weekly Feed complete nutrient mix is not available, mix your own from the formula in The Mittleider Gardening Course or other books. An adequate temporary formula follows. Mix together:
6 pounds compound 16-8-16, 16-16-16, 20-20-20, or something similar.
4 ounces Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt).
1 teaspoon (5 grams) Boron (Borax).

Note: When more of this formula is needed, repeat the formula.
Also, mix only enough for a 5 to 6 weeks supply. The reason: several weeks after the materials are mixed together, they will become sticky and wet. This does not affect the fertilizers, but it is hard to spread and apply.

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