Anyone here have any experience with the 'Mittleider Method'
See: http://foodforeveryone.org /
I'd never heard of it before happening on the website when
looking for something else.
If you have any experience with it, would you recommend it?
Specifically, has anyone used 'The Garden Wizard' software
($9.95)? If so, did you like it?
I use a piece of software called SeedPlanner
(http://www.seedplanner.com ) and I like it a whole lot.
Seed Planner is a planner/scheduler, and a dandy program,
But it doesn't plot out the physical arrangement of the
garden. That's why I'm interested in 'The Garden Wizard'
which can (I gather) be used for planning the physical
arrangement, i. e. what goes where.
I'm using tire-planters and will continue to do so, but they
are analogous to grow-boxes (i.e., three square feet of
surface area is three square feet of surface area, whether
the grow-box is square or round).
I'm interested in the micronutrients, this being an area of
gardening I've probably neglected and I'm always willing to
learn new techniques. I joined their mailing list (at
Yahoogroups) and will see what I think.
I'll request that our library get me a couple of the books
on inter-library loan.
If the library manages to get any of them, I'll post a 'book
I think *most* people who have good results with a
particular technique (and write books about it) tend to
become dogmatic. But I often find I can adapt others' ideas
to my particular circumstances, and gain something useful
from them in spite of this.
I don't think this is entirely a valid criticism, as the
website puts a lot of stress on micro-nutrients (as does the
mailing list, so far). They sell a (reasonably priced)
micro-nutrient supplement. I'm interested in this, because
I've never known what micronutrients a soil might need and I
don't want to go mixing up a lot of different - possibly
difficult to obtain - substances.
I haven't yet seen anything on the site or mailing list that
advises against use of organic materials - did I miss it?
However, I definitely agree that organic materials are
absolutely invaluable and will often be cheaper. Not always
I think this particular criticism is unfair, as this outfit
is evidently working extensively in places such as
Madagascar, helping people there improve their lives through
gardening - assuming the website (with a lot of convincing
photos) is true, and I am assuming that.
It wouldn't be all that inefficient in my garden. I have
two gardening choices and only two:
1. have wide enough paths to enable me to sit down on
something to garden (I use a 'rolling garden seat' I bought
from Lee Valley tools) - and not to have to leap up every
few minutes, at that - (I have a lot of joint pain,
including but not limited to degenerative disc disease in my
2. not garden at all
I'm also not a very large or tall person, so about 24" is
the extent of my comfortable reach.
If we move - as appears probable - to an acre of land, I
will not care HOW much space my garden takes up: space will
be the resource I have in the most abundant supply. This
isn't true for many people of course.
But at least for me, it will probably be true. Even here -
with property of a little less than 1/2 acre - space for
our garden is quite adequate.
That's interesting: what width beds and paths do you have?
I'm reserving judgment until I know more about it.
At present, I think it's probable that I will gain some
useful knowledge, especially in the area of micronutrients
(which they stress, contrary to your post) and in watering
techniques (which I know little about).
The first step, if you have any doubts about your soils ability to provide
them in full measure, is to have a laboratory soil analysis done. It's
neither difficult nor particularly expensive. Mittleider made blanket
recommendations about applying fertilizer to soil of unknown fertility.
That is, he doesn't know what the soil already has so he doesn't know what
it needs (if indeed it needs anything at all!). Moreover his recommendation
appears to be applied as a general worldwide fertilizer recommendation so
it can only be based on what the plants need with no consideration for the
soils' innate ability to deliver it.
Is there any step in his process that would include them? As I read the
site, he acknowledged (momentarily) the value of compost then brushed it
away as being of little consequence. That web site exists to sell
fertilizer, software and books. At least on the web site, he makes no
attempt to add this material in the test gardens. From the picture series,
the test gardens had been fallow before hand and were being used for the
fist time in recent memory. They appeared to have good levels of green
plants already growing on them. That means the soil was already fertile and
plowing that green material under would have greatly increased its water
The organic materials will almost always be locally available and always
cheaper than imported fertilizer. His formula looks deceptively easy. After
all, 1 ounce of copper isn't much, right? So tell me where are you going to
get 1 ounce of copper in a form that will be easy to distribute throughout
that batch of fertilizer? Except by using pretty good levels of math, how
are you going to calculate how much of say, copper sulfate, to add to the
mixture and how much of the sulfur he recommends you should leave out since
the sulfate part of copper sulfate will account for some of the total
sulfer in the mixture. If the people growing the test garden had those
sorts of math skills it isn't likely they would still be trying to eke out
a living in a vegetable garden.
One of the neat things about compost (and related) is that the trace
minerals are already in the raw material in the exact ratios needed by
local plant life. No math ... but also little or no profit.
He's using variations on the same theme that caused the dustbowl. That's not
as helpful as it might sound. Moreover, Madagascar doesn't make its own
chemical fertilizer ... it has to be imported. Imagine the cost of
fertilizer if we had to import it from Madagascar. Well, they've got to
import it from us (or some other industrialized nation that has foundry
wastes they can bag up and sell. Ask the people in India how they feel
about the pesticides in their water table. This is the result of being
'helped' by the chemical companies. The Coca-Cola plant there recently
closed down because the water contained too much lindane to be useable.
Mittleider isn't helping anybody but himself. The people in Madagascar have
been growing their own gardens since the dawn of time. It's not as if they
are totally clueless how to feed themselves. By giving the soil a jolt of
nutrients he is able to grow really nice gardens. But every year the jolt
has to be bigger ... just like in the US ... until it reaches the point
where all the additional productivity is spent on additional fertilizer but
the soil itself is now so barren that the poor farmer / gardener can not
risk not using it.
I stand up to do all of my gardening. My back and knees won't tolerate
stooping any more. My beds are 2' tall.
My garden requires no more reach than that and no stooping at all.
My whole yard, including house, drive and garage is only about 1/8 acre.
Just a tiny little Detroit city lot about 50' by 65'. I have 280 sq ft
under cultivation with 10' tall permanent trellises running down the center
of every bed save one ... and it's going to be retrofitted this fall.
Thus far I have 41 qts dill pickles, 9 pints salsa, 40 pints strawberries
and 13 qts tomato juice along with a guesstimated 60# onions plus an
unknown quantity of dried dill, oregano, mint (4 kinds) chamomille, basil
(3 types) and sage. We also had far too much salad including mesclun mix
and spinach, plenty of chives, bronze fennel, tarragon, coriander and
rosemary. The hot peppers (jalapeno, aji cervisia and banana) and garlic
have pretty much disappeared into the pickles.
I have 3'-4' beds accessible from both sides. Max reach is 24".
Paths are about 3' wide. I would have to back out, but it could be done and,
with a powered wheelchair, wouldn't be all that tough to do.
The list of micronutrients runs quite a bit longer than the 16 they want to
sell. I do not claim that they do not stress micronutrients. They do. What
they do not emphasize (and make no arrangement for) are the trace nutrients
necessary in even smaller concentrations than the micro and macro nutrients
they do mention.
Zone 8b (Detroit, MI)
I do not post my address to news groups.
Thanks for the thoughtful response, which I've read with
Putting the trellises down every bed is an interesting idea,
it would obviously give you the flexibility to trellis or
not throughout the entire garden.
This idea could be incorporated in my tire-garden by simply
running a row of trellising down the middle of each double
row of tire-planters.
What *kind* of trellises do you use? Made of what material?
Thanks. Sounds ideal (except for the small holes, as you
No, that's fine.
My quack alert went off too (albeit softly), but the more I
read the mailing list the less I think they're quacks. I
think they're sincere and have a lot to teach.
I also think their method probably works wonders: most
*methods* of gardening - as opposed to 'slap it in the
ground and forget it' do work wonders. 'Square Foot
Gardening' is an outstanding example of this.
I've also noted that most authors who have a 'method' become
dogmatic about it and think it's by far the best (sometimes
the only) method, whereas in reality it may be an excellent
method -- but there are other excellent methods too.
The prices they charge for the software are absolutely
bargain-basement - my husband is a software developer and I
know how much work goes into even a 'little program'. *No
one* is making a significant money off the software they
sell, not at those prices! No way, no how.
I'm also definitely going to buy the Mittleider
Micro-Nutrient Mix ($9.95), I don't want to have to fool
around trying to locate small quantities of the various
micro-nutrients, and having them presented in one package is
a real convenience.
I'm trying to get some of Mittleider's books on
inter-library loan. It will be interesting to read the
books - if I can get any of them, I'll let you know what I
think after I've read them.
The guy who taught me the most about die-making would call that a "VLE"
(valuable learning experience) ... all the while making it plain that I was
NEVER to do something particularly boneheaded again.
Zone 8b (Detroit, MI)
I do not post my address to news groups.
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