David Gilmore, also known as LDS Prepper, shared a gardening method that boosts yield in a cost-efficient way.
“I believe that you need to grow food as if your life depends on it in the most effective, cost-efficient way. With the least amount of work, water and fertilizer, we can do that through the Mittleider gardening method,” Gilmore said during one of his episodes on his channel on Brighteon.com.
The Mittleider gardening method was developed by Dr. Jacob Mittleider. He ran a nursery that grew wholesale bedding plants in California. The idea was to utilize the nutrient delivery system of hydroponics, which flushed food directly to plant roots. He felt this was a more efficient way to feed plants and combined it with a targeted watering program.
“The plants send down nutrients into the soil, which encourages biological growth in the soil. The biologics break down the nutrients in the soil, making them available to the plants. So, I feed the plants which feed the soil. A lot of people have been taught the soil feeds the plants. Well, I’m not eating soil. I’m eating plants. So, my first priority is to feed the plants,” Gilmore said.
“When your plants are really growing to the full potential, you need to protect the plants by not damaging them as you’re working in the garden. So you need space for air and light and movement and getting through the garden.”
To be certain the plants are getting all the nutrients regardless of the condition of the local soil, Mittleider method requires a custom fertilizer blend that supplies all the nutrients in exactly the amounts needed.
Three of these nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) are supplied by conventional balanced fertilizer. The other 10 are supplied by the Mittleider micro-nutrient mix. All the ingredients in the customized fertilizer are safe and can be handled without any special equipment.
Frequent and consistent watering is also needed in carrying out the Mittleider system. Grow beds are constructed to allow easy watering with just a garden hose. An automated watering system, which aims the water directly at the plant roots, is also often used – especially with grow boxes. This cuts down on the labor involved in watering and also saves water.
Things to consider before getting started
To get started with the Mittleider method, some preparation should be done before the start of the growing season. The Mittleider beds should be ready to receive the plants when they are the right size for planting out and the weather is right.
The main consideration for the Mittleider beds is sunlight. Pick a spot that will receive six to eight hours of full sun during the growing season. To make the best use of the sun, a long bed or box should be oriented running from north to south. This will keep the plants on one side of the bed from shading those on the other side.
Unless you are using relatively small containers, you will need to be able to reach your garden bed with a hose. Grow beds can be watered manually with a hose, but grow boxes will need to have a hose hooked up to a system of perforated PVC pipe.
Grow bed or grow boxes
A grow bed requires no materials and is quicker to set up. Mittleider claimed that crops could be grown in any soil, but if there is a problem with contamination, disease or weed infestation, a grow box is probably a better solution.
Grow boxes use a “soil-less” mix, such as sawdust and sand. These can either be placed on the ground or be stand-alone container. These work best with a watering system using PVC piping to create micro-jets of water aimed at the plant root zone. The method can also be adapted for use with containers. Grow beds or containers need to be a minimum of eight inches deep to provide enough room for the plant roots.
Grow beds and boxes should be 18 inches wide. They can be of any length, but 30 feet is probably the longest that it can get as watering a longer bed could be problematic. There must be walkways between the beds or boxes. These should be between three and four feet wide.
Mittleider experts say that this method can be used in sand, clay, gravel or infertile soil. Aside from contamination, the only thing that would be a real problem is boggy ground that is constantly saturated. This would require a lot of drainage work. Vegetables need to be consistently moist, but the ground should not be saturated and wet.
Plants should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist (but not wet) at all times. In hot, dry weather, this will mean watering daily.
The plants should be fed with the weekly feed mixture. Weekly feeding with the recommended blend of nutrients is the foundation of the Mittleider method, and is key to its success. To be consistent, feed on the same day each week.
To feed, sprinkle half an ounce per foot of length of the bed in the center, between two rows of plants. Either flood the bed as you would when watering regularly, or water as usual using the PVC pipe system.
The secret to keeping weeds down in a Mittleider bed is to nip them in the bud. Remove weeds as soon as you see them sprouting, both from your bed and from the pathways.
The Mittleider method is focused on maximizing production. Therefore, all excess vegetation is pruned so the plant will not waste energy and nutrients on it.
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