Mittleider Method?

     Anyone here have any experience with the 'Mittleider Method' of gardening?
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? Pros? Cons?
Specifically, has anyone used 'The Garden Wizard' software ($9.95)? If so, did you like it?
(http://foodforeveryone.org/Merchant2/garden_wizard.mv )
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, IMHO.
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).
Thanks.
Pat
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On Fri, 29 Aug 2003 00:38:11 GMT, Pam Rudd

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 review' here.
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.
Pat
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On Sat, 30 Aug 2003 13:46:06 -0400, Noydb

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 though.

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 spine.)
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).
Pat
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Pat Meadows wrote:

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 holding abilities.

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.
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On Sun, 31 Aug 2003 23:57:54 -0400, Noydb

Thanks for the thoughtful response, which I've read with great interest.
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.
Pat
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On Wed, 03 Sep 2003 23:51:07 -0400, Noydb

Thanks. Sounds ideal (except for the small holes, as you say).

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.
Pat
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Glenna Rose wrote:

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.
Bill
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