These 30 foot long and 18 inch wide boxes are being built for our fall crops. We will also be building an in garden green house over these boxes. This will allow us to extend our growing season by 12 weeks.
Once construction is complete they will be filled with a mix of sand and sawdust as our growing medium. As that growing medium contains no nutrients for the plants we will be providing all of the necessary nutrients via an inexpensive mix that is applied on a weekly basis.
The PVC you see next to the treated 2×8 serve a few purposes. They help hold the boxes level and in place once filled with our sawdust and sand growing medium. They also support the a-frames we will be making by heating and bending some half inch pvc. Once the mini a-frames are in place they can then be covered with green house plastic to protect our fall crops.
Next to the grow boxes you can see our sweet potatoes growing like mad.
Mixing up a batch of Mittleider pre-plant is an easy task and is inexpensive to do. The three ingredients in Mittleider pre-plant are lime or gypsum, boron and epsom salt.
Do I need gypsum or lime?
It is easy to determine which one you need. If your annual rainfall is 20 inches or more you will need lime. If you receive less than 20 inches annual of rain then you will need gypsum. Don’t know your average annual rainfall? You can ask your local extension office or simply Google it.
Mittleider pre-plant mixing instructions
According to the Mittleider Gardening Course book, 4th edition, on page 51, we are going to mix 5 pounds lime of gypsum, 1 ounce of boron from 20 Mule Team Borax20 Mule Team Borax, and 4 ounces of magnesium sulfate from plain old Epsom Salt. Check your Walmart or favorite store for the best prices. The Borax is a washing additive in the laundry detergent area and the epsom slat will be in health and beauty. You will also need an inexpensive digital kitchen scale to weigh everything.
Lime is generally sold in a 40 pound bag. We like to mix the entire bag of lime at once. So to the 40 pound bag of lime we add 2 pounds of Epsom Salt and 8 ounces of 20 Mule Team Borax. This comes from page 53 of the 5th edition of the Mittleider Gardening Course book.
Every year when I start getting ready to grow seedlings I mix up a batch of seedling flat growing medium. By starting with new growing medium every year I ensure there are no insects, plant disease or weed seeds. This helps to ensure healthier plants are going into my garden and I am not introducing weed seeds to the garden.
How to mix custom soil
Time to mix up the sawdust, sand and perlite that will be used as our growing medium in our seedling flats. We mixed 2 parts sawdust, 1 parts sand and 1/2 part perlite for our seedling flat, as seen in the pictures below. The perlite is optional and can be omitted to keep your costs down.
We mix everything in a wheel barrow with a flat nosed shovel[[Amazon_Link_Text]] before transferring everything into our seedling trays.
The Mittleider Gardening Course book recommends 3 parts sawdust to 1 part sand. It also gives options to sand and sawdust, including mixing ratios. Get your own MGC book here if you don’t already have one.
Seedling flats are shown in the Mittleider Gardening Course book on page 181. The dimensions of the seedling flats are 18″ x 18″ x 2 1/2″. Once filled with the mixed growing medium we added 1 1/2 ounces of our pre plant fertilizer mix. (Page 51 in the MGM, revision 4)
Do you prefer to use your own soil?
Not everyone wants to mess with the extra work of acquiring everything to make a custom growing medium. The correct sawdust can be difficult to find and even expensive when you do find it. You can sterilize your own soil and grow healthy seedlings. See my blog post on Seedling Success Through Sterilized Soil.
A quick trip to Jamesport, MO, today to get sawdust for our seedling flats and grow boxes. This lumber mill makes pallets and will allow us to take the sawdust for FREE. They do not make pallets from walnut so this sawdust is safe to use. We will make a few trips here in the near future.
In just a few hours a class of beginners in this Mittleider gardening course were able to transform this bare patch of ground into a bunch of Mittleider grow beds. The raised bed allows for proper drainage. The edges of the grow bed have a raised ridge to contain water during daily watering. Watering just the grow beds and not the entire garden reduces your water consumption and helps to cut down on weeds.
These tomatoes are being grown vertically as part of the Mittlieder Gardening Method in Kidder, MO. They’re pruned and wound around heavy bailing twine to maximize the sunlight and air to the plants while making it easy to harvest. No wire cages to fight here! The 2×4 is just over 7 feet from the ground. Some of those tomato plants are 10 feet tall.
This week I’ve been attending a Mittleider gardening course and have had the opportunity see the system implemented and learn so much. I will have many more Mittleider posts in the future as I convert my traditional garden to a Mittlieder
I’m thoroughly impressed by this simple and easy to use Mittleider gardening method and we will begin to transition from our traditional gardening method to this much more effective and simple Mittleider method.
I will be referring to the Mittleider Gardening Course book (MGC) and sharing page numbers. You can get the MGC in digital version or in paperback. If you do get the MGC there is a new revision that was released in 2015. You can get your own, in ether format, from Jim Kennard on his Grow Food website The digital version, which is searchable, is $14.95 and the paperback is $19.95
It was a little muddy digging these potatoes after the 2 1/8″ of rain we recently received but it was time for them to come out. My potatoes have never done extremely well, with few getting large and many of them misshapen. I’ve always contributed it to our soil and have always just accepted it.
Recently I’ve begun paying attention to a guy on YouTube who goes by the handle of LDSPrepper and ultilizes the Mittleider gardening method to grow all of their vegetables. Of particular interest to me are the grow boxes where they utilize a mix of sawdust and sand as the growing medium.
I’m going to attempt my next crop of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots in such a setup next year. My thought is that the sawdust and sand won’t compact like our soil and make it easier for potatoes and carrots to grow large. We will be converting our traditional garden over to the Mittleider system.