What is the Mittleider Gardening Method?
So what is the Mittleider Gardening Method, who created it and how is it different? The Mittleider gardening method is a complete system that was developed to allow any gardener to grow a healthy garden in any climate and type of soil. It is a system that ensures the plants have all 16 nutrients they require. Those nutrients are added on a weekly basis. It was developed to be easy and inexpensive for anyone in any part of the world.
It is a system that was named after the man who developed it, Dr. Jacob Mittleider. It allows the gardener to combine the best parts of growing in soil with the results of hydroponic gardening. It allows us to get results similar to hydroponic gardeners but without the massive costs. The Mittleider garden is known as the poor mans hydroponics system.
Dr. Jacob R Mittleider
Jacob Mittleider perfected this system over the course of 43 years to allow gardeners to maximize the use of their resources, space and even their time. The amount plants are large in a Mittleider garden because the crops are grown close together and through nourishing the plants with natural minerals. No special or expensive equipment is needed to apply the nutrients!
Six laws of plant growth
Jacob Mittleider defined the six laws of plant growth. These scientific laws of plant growth are non-nonnegotiable yet very few gardeners follow or fully understand them. If the gardener can figure out these 6 laws of plant growth and implement them in their Mittleider garden they will see a bountiful harvest. Ignore just one of these six laws of plant growth and your garden could be a total loss.
A quick outline of the six laws of plant growth:
Mittleider gardens provide all the nutrients plants require
Because all the required nutrients are provided on a weekly basis a Mittleider garden can be grown in any soil, even sand and sawdust! Traditional gardening methods provide very few of the required 16 nutrients. When you provide all the nutrients necessary your plants will grow large, taste better and resist disease far better than an underfed plant. Regardless of how nutrient poor your soil may be, you can grow a Mittleider garden.
The first three nutrients the plant is able to provide its self with access to the air. Those three airborne nutrients are :
- Oxygen (O)
- Hydrogen (H)
- Carbon (C)
Next comes the primary nutrients. These three macro nutrients are:
- Nitrogen (N)
- Phosphorus (P)
- Potassium (K)
The secondary nutrients are sometimes used in traditional gardens. Of the three secondary nutrients magnesium is often used for tomatoes. The three secondary nutrients are:
- Calcium (Ca)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Sulfur (S)
The last of the nutrients needed by all plants are known as the micro-nutrients or as the trace elements. There are 7 of them:
- Boron (B)
- Copper (Cu)
- Iron (Fe)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Zinc (Zn)
- Molybdenum (Mo)
- Chlorine (Cl)
Mittlieder Gardening Method maximizes garden space
To maximize the available garden space, Dr. Jacob Mittleider began to grow vertically. For example, tomatoes can be grown a mere 9 inches apart when utilizing the Mittleider method and grown vertically under t-posts or a frames. That is 13 tomato plants being grown in one row that is merely 10 feet long!
When grown vertically a 170 pound test, or greater, baling twine is used to direct the tomato plants to grow vertically. The twine is wrapped around the plant as it grows. Every other tomato is trained up the twine in different directions towards the top of structure to a heavy gauge wire. If the gardener stands at one end of the row and looks toward the other they would see a “V” shape as shown in the picture below.
While the plants grow upwards they get further apart allowing them all access to sunlight and the air. Air and light are laws 1 and 3 of the six laws of plant growth. The gardener will prune the tomatoes or other vertical crop as they grow. As a result of pruning the plants are all able to get access to sunlight and air as they grow towards the top.
Growing vertically such crop as crooked neck squash keeps you from tripping on the vines and breaking plants. Going vertical makes weed control such much easier. Pruning, visual inspections for disease and insects and even harvesting is such much easier with crops grown vertically.
Use less water and help control weeds with the Mittleider gardening method
Watering a Mittleider garden soil bed is easy and uses less water than a traditional garden. A Mittleider soil bed is raised to permit good drainage. It has ridges to contain the water inside a 12 inch wide area. Because the water is only given to the plants in a narrow row, less water is used. When the water is contained inside the grow bed ridges no water gets into the isles to encourage weed growth. As a result of watering a narrow row there is far less water used as compared to traditional gardening methods.
Where can you learn more about the Mittleider gardening method
James (Jim) Kennard now runs the Food For Everyone foundation and maintains the website. You can learn more about the history of the Mittleider Gardening Method and even order the book from the Grow Food website. Jim and Araksya run a Mittleider group on Facebook. For those who like forums to share and search different topics relating to a Mittleider garden try the Mittleider Gardening Forums.
If you’re interested in trying out the Mittleider method you can even download the first 7 lessons in a digital format from the Mittleider Gardening Course Book for FREE. Those lessons cover everything you need to know to grow a Mittleider garden in your own soil.
Can you take classes on Mittleider gardening method?
Indeed you can. The Food for Everyone Foundation offers week long classes each year in Missouri and Idaho. These Mittleider Training Courses (MTC) are described as:
“…the Mittleider Training Course (MTC) is a one-week intensive immersion experience in this amazing system of growing, and for those who experience it their paradigm is forever changed. They KNOW how to grow a highly successful garden and they also have the confidence to assist, teach, and demonstrate success to others.”
For the visual learners who use YouTube
Finally, for the visual learners you can follow us on YouTube. We are still learning how to do the whole video thing so please be patient with us.