[MittleiderMethodGardening] Soil Tests Needed in the Family Garden?

 

Group:


A Group Member recently posed the following question:  "Jacob, in his book (Chapter 16 - Food For Everyone, Pg 137, stated "The soil test is the beginning of operations...".)" and wanted to know why we no longer talk about the soil test as being important.  Following is my answer, which I highly recommend every one of you read carefully:

 

The book Food For Everyone was written in 1972, and at that time Dr. Mittleider was having soil tests done wherever he went. However, over the ensuing years he learned enough that by the time most of his GARDENING books were published Jacob no longer used nor recommended soil tests, and here's why:

 

Two reasons for soil tests were (1) to determine the soil pH, because plants are best able to take nutrients from the soil and use them when the pH is between 6.5 and 7, and (2) to determine any nutrient deficiencies in the soil.

 

Through long experience and field testing in gardens all over the world Jacob learned that whenever annual rainfall is 20" or more the soil pH is below 7 (acidic), and the simple solution is to use lime - to raise the pH and to supply essential calcium.

 

When annual rainfall is 18" or below the soil pH is above 7 (alkaline) and the solution is to use gypsum as the calcium source. It will not raise pH because it contains almost equal parts calcium (raises pH) and sulfur (lowers pH).  And Jacob learned that this was usually all that was necessary to grow successfully in high pH soils.

If the high pH in the soil continues to be a problem simply apply sulfur to lower the pH. 

 

Furthermore, Jacob's long experience with soil tests taught him that they often did not accurately predict the AVAILABILITY of the nutrients to the plants. The natural state of the many mineral compounds in the soil is to be "fixed" or adhered to the soil particles, and in order for the plants to use them the minerals must be water-soluble and pass in the soil water into the plant through the root hairs. That availability changes quickly, and a test taken last month may not be accurate today or tomorrow.

 

Jacob also learned that soils throughout the world were almost universally low in AVAILABLE nutrients, and he created a balanced formula containing all 13 essential plant nutrients that he applied everywhere in the world with great success.  And they are applied weekly throughout the growing season so that they ARE available to the plants as needed.

 

This knowledge allowed Dr. Mittleider to eliminate the need for soil testing, thus saving time and costs for everyone.  This is a tremendous boon for family gardeners, because they have neither the time, the money, nor the inclination to get soil tests.


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Posted by: jim@growfood.com
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Re: [MittleiderMethodGardening] Covering T-Frames over an 18" soil-bed or Grow-Box to Protect from Weather

 

Dear Jim,
I would like to offer my humble advice, regarding the use of Polythene sheet , plain or UV treated over PVC pipe frames.
The poly covering would break up in the areas contacting the PVC pipe. Depending on the ambient temperature conditions, in cooler climates the poly covering could last a bit longer, but in the tropics, like here in Thailand, my 30' x 12' hydroponic greenhouse, PVC frame with 6 mil UV polythene Greenhouse plastic fell apart in barely a year. I did not know the reason at the time, so went back to my supplier, to confirm whether I was supplied with UV protected Polythene, which he confirmed.
On doing further research, I discovered that the PVC pipes "GasOut" chlorine when they heat up, destroying the plastic sheet in the process. I have since rebuilt my greenhouse with translucent fiber glass roofing sheets on a wooden roof frame, and concrete columns.
I have read that it is possible to use plastic sheeting on PVC pipe frames, if the PVC is first wrapped in tape. I would not recommend any tape, as I wouldnt recommend the PVC frames to start with.
You could google Polythene on PVC, and find out more. See url for article:



Kind regards to all our Mittleider Fans

Conrad Fernandes


Conrad Group:

Thanks for that reminder.  I had forgotten about that problem.  ldsprepper researched this and determined that painting the PVC pipe would stop the problem.  

I  do not have any personal experience with it, so can't say with authority, but I recommend anyone building one to check about painting the PVC first.

Jim Kennard

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Posted by: "Conrad A. S. Fernandes" <jacolengineers@gmail.com>
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[MittleiderMethodGardening] Covering T-Frames over an 18" soil-bed or Grow-Box to Protect from Weather

 

The question has been asked - how can we protect our vertically-grown plants from the weather, short of building an in-the-garden greenhouse?


We have not given any instructions for the PVC arches and plastic for a single 18" bed or box with T-Frames - not that it is a bad idea, but just because we have not done one ourselves :)

And I never saw Dr. Mittleider put plastic over a single bed or box with T-Frames either. I guess that's because Jacob was always demonstrating using large gardens and it was more efficient to cover 2 beds or boxes and have the in-the-garden greenhouse benefits for little more money. But that does not address the small backyard garden with only ONE bed or box with T-Frames. So, I will make the attempt to describe how to do it.

First of all, you will need to have 2 X 4's on edge tying your T-Frames together, rather than pipe or wire. This is so that you can screw the 45 degree PVC elbows every 2' to those 2 X 4's and have a place for the PVC.

In addition, you will need to have 9 gauge wire (or 1/2" galvanized plumbing pipe) running the length of your bed 2" in from the outside edges of the T-Frame T. This is where you will fasten your baling twine for your plants to grow on. If you were not covering with plastic you could tie your twine to the 2 X 4's on the outside edge, but with plastic covering those outside edges it would not work, especially when the plants reach the top of the string.

When the structure is in place attach 3/4" - 45 degree elbows on the inside of the 2 X 4's every 2' and hold them in place with "plumbers' strapping tape", which is flexible metal material that plumbers use to hold pipes in place. Do not put the elbows on the outside of your T-Frame structure The plastic will rub on the elbows and wear through and the pressure from the PVC pipes pushing out will pop them off the 2 X 4s.

Buy enough Schedule 40 3/4" PVC pipe to make your roof "trusses". Since your T-Frame top is only 32" long you might want to experiment with cutting one pipe into 3 equal lengths of 40" and placing those into the elbows to see if you have enough arch to your roof. Heating the pipe with a heat gun, carefully and evenly, will help, and will relieve the outward pressure the pipe will otherwise exert on the 2 X 4's.

Things to consider in determining the arch that you want would be how tall you want your plants to grow, and if there is likely to be a snow load problem. I'm sorry that I do not have a single bed or box with T-Frames installed in my present garden, that I can use to do all of the above and give you better counsel.

You will next need to have sufficient clear UV-protected greenhouse plastic to cover the T-Frame structure, with 1' of extra on each side. Depending on the height of your arch the width should likely be about 20". The length of your plastic should be at least 3' longer than the bed or box.

Install 2 X 4's below the outside corners of each T to support the plastic sides. They should be buried so they don't move, and screwed into the under side of the tops.

Before installing the plastic prepare and install the PVC plastic-holding system LDS Prepper describes in his videos. Remove 1/3rd of the pipe on 6' lengths of 200 PSI 3/4" PVC pipe. Sand the edges carefully, so that they do not cut the inserted greenhouse plastic. Place them on both ends and the outside 2 X 4's, starting near the ground, and screwing to the posts. Cut 6' lengths of 1/2" PVC to be pushed into the larger pipes after the greenhouse plastic is in place.

Using at least 2 people, put the plastic cover over the T-Frame structure, making sure that the plastic hangs over the sides and ends the same everywhere.

While holding the plastic snugly against the structure on all sides, screw 1 X 2's to the sides of the 2 X 4's along both sides at the top, to hold the greenhouse plastic permanently in place.

Again, while holding the plastic snugly against the sides of the structure, snap the 6' lengths of 1/2" PVC into the 3/4" PVC, all around the structure. On the ends, do the same, overlapping the two sides and putting both pieces of plastic into the "holder".

Next, sandwich the plastic at ground level on both sides between 2 - 1 X 2's using screws . Use different lengths of 1 X 2 on front and back, so that joints do not occur in the same place, for strength.

Depending on your wind and weather conditions you may find it necessary to cover the bottom edges of your plastic with dirt to hold them down and keep the cold wind out, or you may be able to place stakes 2" from the base of your vertical 2 X 4's and keep everything in place.


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Posted by: jim@growfood.com
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[MittleiderMethodGardening] Grow-Boxes - Can they be other widths than just 18" or 4' ?

 

Group:  Following is an important dialog about this subject that I recommend everyone study carefully:


"I have a question about four-foot beds. I understand that they are treated as if they were two 18-inch beds, but what is the purpose of the 12 inches in the middle? Does it have any use? Would things work the same if it were a three foot bed?"  Gary Pendrak



Consider the width of aisles between 2 - 18"-wide beds. We recommend they be 3 1/2', or 42". Why? to give the 2 rows of plants in the bed or box room to grow and have sufficient light, etc., as well as providing space for the gardener to get to and care for the plants, of course.

Now, what are you doing by putting 4 rows of plants near t
he outer edges of a 4'-wide box (rows 12" apart, with center space less than 2')? You are trying to maximize the crops you can grow in a given amount of space.  But you have changed the width of the "aisle" between the two sets of rows from 3 1/2' to less than 2'.

Already you have reduced the recommended aisle space between those sets of rows by almost 1/2!  There In order to not HURT your production, you must keep those 4 rows of plants PRUNED more often and diligently than normally accomplished in the 18" soil-beds or Grow-Boxes that are separated by 3 1/2' aisles.

The same holds true for plants grown vertically. in 18" beds or boxes each row of plants (becoming 2 "rows" as they go up the baling twine to opposite sides of the T) occupies 5' of width in the garden, or two rows in 10'. When you put those 2 rows of climbing plants in a 4' box with a 3 1/2' aisle they now occupy 7 1/2'.

You have "saved" 2 1/2' of space in your garden, but it comes with a cost! Less aisle space means more crowded plants, which translates to a requirement for more care and pruning, etc.

LDS Prepper had experience with both 18"-wide boxes and 4'-wide boxes, and I believe he now prefers - and recommends - 18'-wide beds and boxes, for the reasons I've cited above.

Therefore, we suggest you start with 18" beds or boxes if you have the space - and remember you will grow a lot MORE in LESS SPACE using The Mittleider system of growing than you ever did using traditional methods - so don't take on too much.


And we DO NOT recommend you make Grow-Boxes ANY NARROWER than 4', other than the 18" that ARE recommended for everyone !


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Posted by: jim@growfood.com
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Re: [MittleiderMethodGardening] tomato troubles

 

Toms usually want 55f, and some only 50F, but for 4 nights (and days) straight to set fruit.  (Tomatoes need warm temperatures to grow and set fruit.  They are dormant below about 60 degrees.  Ideal temperatures are between 60 and 90 degrees, with a differential of 15+ degrees between night and day - Jim Kennard)

Autumn is the time to buy garden goodies on sale.'
Get a min-max thermometer... preferably with a remote unit.
Outdoor units often need protection from rain, oddly, and sun will mislead them.
Taylor LaCrosse are two big names. Home Depot, OSH, et al have these.

Of course they need fertilization. An old elec toothbrush can sub for a bumblebee.
(Honey bees tend to be unable to fert toms, but can help curcurbits!) (Tomatoes are self-pollinating and need no help other than some movement of the vines occasionally - Jim Kennard)

I assume your CA is adequate.  (Make sure that you have the Pre-Plant Mix in the soil, and that you supplement it every 8 weeks.  Also, add the Weekly Feed before planting and weekly thereafter.  Applications are 1 oz/ft for PP and 1/2 oz/ft for WF - Jim Kennard

BillSF9c

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Posted by: Oowonbs <OOWONBS@Netscape.net>
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[MittleiderMethodGardening] tomato troubles

 

Now that is is harvest time, all my plants are really struggling. They have been healthy all summer, but now they are very yellow. My cucumbers have TONS of flowers but won't produce. This is the same for my cherry tomatoes. They have TONS of flowers but won't produce. My large tomato plants have lots of tomatoes on them, but the plants look like they are dying. I will include a picture below. Any suggestions would be appreciated. [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

What is the temperature like? Are nights cold? The plants you named are warm-weather plants and don't produce new fruit when nights get cold. Also, when it gets cold the plants cannot take up the nutrients, even when they are in the soil, and so they will get yellow (starved for nutrition).

Also, are you still feeding and watering them the same? Because of the above factors, and so as not to waste fertilizer, we recommend people stop fertilizing everbearing plants 8 weeks before killing frost.

Jim Kennard

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Posted by: Josh Nielson <joshandrea_nielson@yahoo.com>
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[MittleiderMethodGardening] Re: Mittleider Gardening Certification Boot Camp - August 15-20, Kidder MO - One Opening

 

Yesterday's opening has been filled, but again this morning we received a call that one or our Boot Camp participants has had a family emergency and won't be able to attend. 


This opens up one more spot - anyone able to join us? It happens ONE WEEK from tomorrow (arrival time), with the training beginning Monday morning at 8 sharp.

To take advantage of this LAST OPPORTUNITY this year to attend the Mittleider Gardening Certification Training Boot Camp - in Kidder, Missouri, go to http://growfood.com/…/mittleider-gardening-training-boot-c…/.

We'll see a lucky one of you in 8 days!

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Posted by: jim@growfood.com
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[MittleiderMethodGardening] Re: Mittleider Gardening Certification Boot Camp - August 15-20, Kidder MO - One Opening

 

And it's gone.  Congratulations to Robert from Colorado.  We'll see you in 9 days!!


Jim Kennard

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Posted by: jim@growfood.com
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[MittleiderMethodGardening] Mittleider Gardening Certification Boot Camp - August 15-20, Kidder MO - One Opening

 

Friends:


We just had a cancellation for participation in this month's Boot Camp, due to a family emergency.  This has opened up a spot. I recommend anyone who is interested act FAST, as it will be gone quickly. Go to http://growfood.com/.../mittleider-gardening-training.../


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Posted by: jim@growfood.com
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[MittleiderMethodGardening] Aughh! Help!

 

SOMEthing is eating my broccoli. And sweet potato leaves.  No, not worms we've got few holes in leaves, instead the whole leaf, part of the stem and now the broccoli HEADS are missing!  We just had a good rain so there is soft earth around the boxes and no tunnels, paw or hoofprints.  No telltale little piles of poop, just a few crumbs of broccoli head in the dirt...not even any shredded leaf parts or pieces...whatever it is is making off with whole, foot-long leaves and 4-inch heads. Someone suggested cranes, but we are in town and they would have plenty of easy pickings further from people...it's been a good lush year here so the wildlife are less pesky than usual...or they were until now. We have had a murder of crows in the area...they fledged about five youngsters two weeks ago...and the damaged plants are all located so they could perch on the edge of the box to reach them....any ideas?

signed,
Broccoli half-crop


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Posted by: cschulz@jvlnet.com
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