If you cant find a good source locally you can use equine pellets sawdust. In a Mittleider garden the sawdust is used to fill seedling flats or even entire grow boxes.
Ideally you would have access to free sawdust from a sawmill and don’t need to go through the added expense of buying sawdust. If you’re only going to start seedlings a single bag of pellets would last a long time. It also wouldn’t be cost prohibitive. To fill grow boxes would take a lot more sawdust and would quickly become expensive.
If you are considering using equine pellets sawdust to fill a grow box I’d highly recommend that you consider soil beds. They can grow food equally well despite your soil condition while being much cheaper.
How to go from pellets to sawdust
The process of taking pellets and turning them into usable sawdust is easy. All you need to do is add water with a good watering wand to soak everything well. As the pellets absorb water they will expand as the binding agent used a glue dissolves.
adding the pellets to a container that will allow the excess water to drain will make the entire process easier for you. Our wheel barrow has a crack and allows excess water to escape.
If you do not have a container that will allow water to escape try adding water a little at a time until all the pellets are damp. Try turning the pellets with a shovel to ensure everything is wet.
Where and what pellets to get
As the name implies, these pellets can be bought at business catering to horse people. Another source is at business that sell hardwood pellets for homes heated with pellet stoves. Those hardwood pellets are fine and any wood type except walnut will work. The pellet stove pellets can be bought in bulk and can often be bought cheaper by the bag than equine pellets.
The hardwood pellets intended for heating homes is often only carried seasonally and may not always be available. They may also be bought at discount in the spring as they’re no longer needed.
Watch sawdust being made with equine pellets
In this video you can watch equine pellets expand roughly three times into sawdust once it becomes wet. The process is quick and only takes a few minutes.
Garden rows and which direction they should run is a topic that is discussed frequently. Selecting garden row direction doesn’t matter if your tall crops are planted in the right rows. With a Mittleider garden the rows running in either direction work well with a couple simple rules.
The direction of your rows should be determined by the natural slope of your garden area. In a Mittleider garden grown in your own soil your rows need to be level. Using the contour of your gardening area you layout your rows is best. This will require the least amount of work to keep those rows level.
If your garden rows run north and south you will want to plant any tall crops in the rows to the east. This permits the shorter crops to get a full 6-8 hours of afternoon sun and prevent them from being shaded out.
For the garden rows that run east to west the gardener would likewise plant tall and vertical crops would be planted in the rows on the north side of your garden. Allowing all your plants to get a full 6-8 hours of sunlight is one of the six laws of plant growth with the Mittleider Gardening system.
I’ve heard rows running one direction work best
Because of the contour and available growing area in our yard we have two garden areas. One has rows running north and south while the second has rows going east and west. Both produce equally well. This is true because we plant our tall and vertical crops to ensure everything gets adequate light. Light is the 1st of the 6 laws of plant growth in a Mittleider garden.
Are there any row directions to avoid?
With a Mittlieder garden the only rows you need to avoid are ones that will face south. A south facing row will be in shadow and prevent the plants from getting adequate sunlight. There are other considerations on selecting a garden location that will be covered in a fewer blog entry.
See our gardening areas in this video
In this quick video you can see our two Mittleider gardening areas and hear the reason why row directions don’t matter
The Mrs and I have the same generation (gen 4) and model Glocks. When we bought them they both came with the standard sights that don’t offer any illumination in low light conditions.
We had a sight pushing tool already so just bought new night sights. It’s an expensive tool now but cheaper ones can be bought for around $50. If I were to start over and didn’t have the tool I’d likely save money and just have a gun smith provide and install the new sights for a fee.
If you have one or can borrow one from a buddy it’s a simple process to push on a rear sight. The front sight does require a special tool to remove that can be bought for less than $10. It too is an easy job to replace and there are tons of YouTube videos that show you how.
Here is the rear sight removed and ready to install the new one.
Our average last day of frost has passed for the spring and we are full on in garden mode. Today we pruned up a mess of the tomatoes we started from seeds under grow lights and have begun transplanting them into the garden. The next week is going to be busy for us
They get pruned fairly heavily before transplanting, here are some pictures before and after pruning. When transplanting they go as deep as possible, each of those root hairs on the stem will become a new root to feed the plant and fruit.
Why should you prune a tomato before transplanting?
Pruning of tomato seedlings is done for a couple of reasons. Firstly, by pruning off all the lower leaves the gardener can transplant the tomato deeper into the soil. All the root hairs on the stem that are below the soil can then become a root to provide water and nutrients to your plant.
As a result of that tomato seedling having fewer leaves to support it will come out of the shock of transplant sooner. A plant that is in shock is not growing.
A look at tomato seedlings before and after pruning
Here are two series of photos that show a before and after picture of our tomato seedlings.
Here is another plant before and after pruning.
All these were started in sand and sawdust and will be grown in the same custom soil mix. We will be putting more tomatoes in our native soil later.
Our favorite tool for pruning tomato seedlings
We have used our fingers, scissors and even a kitchen knife to prune seedlings. After many different tools being used the tool I found most noteworthy is the Fiskars Micro-tip pruning snip. The blades are short and help to keep you from accidentally removing more of the plant than intended. (Normal scissors worked great, but I always ended up cutting off something I didn’t want removed.) The Fiskars have a handy spring in it that opens the blades after you make a cut and loosen your grip on the handle. We liked this set so well we bought an extra just in case.
Today we noticed a phosphate deficiency in some of our tomato seedlings. This particular deficiency manifests itself in a tomato plant on the underside of the leaf. You will see a purple color on the underside of the leaf while the top is the normal green. Here is an example.
The underside of each tomato leaf in these seedlings were all showing the same symptoms
Corrective action for a phosphate deficiency
Now that you have identified the deficiency it is actually easy to correct. My preferred correction is made with an application of 1/4 ounce per linear foot of 0-45-0. It is more commonly known as triple super phosphate.
How long will it take to correct the phosphate deficiency?
Often your deficiency will begin to get better within a few days as a result of you applying a correction of the phosphorus. Be sure you remember to water the triple super phosphate in with a watering wand. You want to make certain that the phosphate gets down to the roots where the plant can utilize it.
If after a week you don’t see any change give it another correction and consider other problems.
Is triple super phosphate organic?
Absolutely. Rest easy, if you’re striving to stay organic you’re good to go.
Recently we made changes to the in garden greenhouse. Arguable some of these changes are improvements. They were all minor additions that didn’t add much cost to the project. Ideally these changes would have been made and implemented during the build. If you are considering building this I’d highly suggest altering your build plans to include these changes.
During our time with the Mittleider in garden greenhouse I’ve changed a few things about it and added my own personalized touches to it. I’ve outlined these things in this little video we shot today.
We built the in garden greenhouse from the instructions provided in the Mittleider Gardening Course book. We don’t provide a supplemental heat source to it, but are able to increase our growing season by about 6 to 8 weeks. It allows us to start planting hardy plants 3-4 weeks before our average last frost of the year.
After the first frost of the year it also allows us to continue growing and protecting our vegetables by simply closing it up and protecting the plants from the cold. On a sunny day we can easily see temperatures inside the greenhouse rise 30 degrees above the outside temperatures.
Watch our video to see the changes we made
Our quest to be self reliant and grow a healthy garden