There are a number of gardening methods that result in large yields from small spaces. Recently, we discussed keyhole gardening that humanitarian organizations developed to help people of third-world countries produce an abundance of food. In this article, we will be describing the Mittleider Gardening Method, which can be used anywhere including apartment balconies, a city yard, a country lot or a farm.
Developed by Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider, a world-renowned international agricultural consultant, the Mittleider Garden is based on 55 years of study and experience. After 20 years of growing flowers and vegetables commercially, Dr. Mittleider traveled the world sharing his experience with gardeners. In 1964, educators at Loma Linda University in California requested that he take a trip around the world to study the diets of people. His travels took him through the Middle East, Africa, India, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. He discovered that solutions to food problems called for the carrying out of recommendations of experts in plant nutrition and following scientific agricultural practices. On his return to the United States, he developed the Mittleider Method of gardening.
The Mittleider Method Of Gardening
The Mittleider Garden features growing boxes with no floor made of wood or cement frames measuring about 4-feet wide, 30-feet long and 8-inches deep that lay on a level surface. The frames are filled with custom-made soil that includes sawdust, sand, and other passive and organic combinations. The soil is mixed with fertilizers that can be acquired at any garden center and Epsom salts that you can find at any grocery store or supermarket.
The growing boxes act as a temperature regulator because the custom-made soil keeps the roots cool in summer. They also take up less space and reduce or even eliminate weeds. It is essential when practicing this method of gardening that you keep the hard subsoil in the grow boxes moist and soft and allow the roots to penetrate the subsoil. Make certain that there is proper drainage and aeration for roots.
The Mittleider garden can also be done using 18-inches wide and 30-feet long strips of soil-beds that have been specially prepared for high yield vegetable production. The length can vary depending on the size of space available for the garden, but the width must be 18-inches.
The technique will thrive on any kind of ground including rocky, hilly, or depleted of alkaline, clay or nutrients because the vegetation is growing in custom-made soil. It works any time of the year, in any climate and requires very little space. It’s low maintenance and offers a great yield of crops and you can very easily cover it with a greenhouse to protect it from bad weather.
The yield is fantastic because the crops are planted close together and grow large due to supplemental feedings of natural mineral nutrients with no special equipment.
Moreover, you can convert your existing raised bed garden to a Mittleider garden fast and easy. Not only is the yield great, but the garden requires 40-percent less water than a traditional garden.
Creating A Mittleider Garden
Start the project with a visit to your neighborhood garden center. Pick up a 40-lb. bag of 15-15-15 fertilizer and 2-lbs. of Epsom salt. The combination is intended to feed the Mittleider Garden weekly for one year.
In addition, purchase the sand and sawdust necessary for concocting the “custom-made” soil.
Whether you use grow boxes or create raised beds on the ground, the Mittleider Garden should follow the following parameters.
- Organize the Mittleider Garden into rows and aisles.
- Arrange the crops in narrower spacings and train them to grow vertically for light and to conserve space. Use stakes, string, and A-frames to grow the plants upward.
- Start early and plant in a seed house and transplant only after they have established and are strong and healthy.
- Apply fertilizer on the soil before you plant and several times after planting. Later, you can use fertilizer to control weeds that may grow between plants.
- Water only the roots of the plants with precision microjets to conserve water.
- Carefully prune plants and remove leaves that do not support the plant or its fruit to increase yield.
- Harvest two to three crops a year.
There are a number of books that offer details on the benefits of the Mittleider Garden as well as provide a step-by-step how-to guide. These sources include:
- Mittleider Garden Course Book
- Mittleider Gardening Library that includes 10 books and nine manuals written by Dr. Mittleider.
- Mittleider Gardening Training Videos
An Internet search will provide you with information concerning where you can purchase or gain access to the material.