Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sustainable gardening Companion Planting Yes or No?

We don't recommend companion planting.

Companion planting makes two varieties compete for the same food, water, and light, and both will be losers. We plant one variety close together in a given space, and leave no room for anything else.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What is the Mittleider Method Gardening

Aa new group member, asks a good question for anyone who has joined us without already having read one or more of Dr. Mittleider's books. I'll try to answer her succinctly enough that all who care to read this may benefit.

The Mittleider Method of vegetable gardening is the result of 57 years' of world-wide experience in high-yield family-based food production by Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider. His background (20 years) as a commercial grower of
bedding plants, followed by 37 years learning, improving, teaching, and demonstrating as he created 75 training programs in 27 countries, have given him a unique perspective on how to grow the most healthy food in the least space, with the least cost and effort per unit of production.

That experience is documented in the production of 9 books, 9 subject-specific manuals, and 86 video lectures. The actual books are available on the website (, digital versions are available at, and on the website as a CD in a searchable database, and we have 70 of his video lectures on CD as well.

Dr. M. has combined, revised and adapted principles from commercial hydroponic growing, greenhouse production, and truck farming into a fine-tuned recipe of instructions that when followed will give you an
excellent, high-yielding garden in virtually any climate and any soil.

Comparing the Mittleider Method with traditional methods in chart form can be helpful. You can do so by going to However, the best way to find out is to create a Mittleider garden and experience for yourself what it means to have more crisp, juicy, healthy vegetables in your small home garden than you ever thought possible.

I hope everyone is working on doing that this year, and that you'll share your successes (and your problems) with us, so that we can help you have the greatest success possible

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Monday, October 05, 2009

How many beds can I automatically water at the same time

Automated Watering Question. (Print and Save in Your Garden File)

The question of how many beds you can water with the "automated" system is very common and very important. How much you can water at one time is entirely dependent on the volume of water and the pressure with which it is delivered to your pipes. I'll give you some examples of extremes on both ends, and then try to give suggestions for your garden situation.

I have a 5 1/2 HP Honda gas-powered pump bring water to my garden in a 2" pipe, and I can water 20 to 25 30'-long beds at one time. The big pipe and strong pressure provide a large volume of water, thus allowing for fast watering of my garden of 125 beds.

At what you would think is the other extreme are Jan & Gretchen Graf in Santa Clara, Utah. Their garden has been watered by gravity. They collect water from a natural spring into 4-250 gallon tanks. Those are connected in tandem with 1" pipe, and a 1" pipe then goes to their garden. The top of the garden is only
about 3' below the bottom of the tanks, but with the fairly large pipe plus the pressure of the water in the tanks, they are able to water 4 30' rows at a time. And you will see from pictures in the Photos section of the that their garden is on blow-sand!

Meanwhile others who are on municipal water, supposedly with ample pressure, sometimes have a hard time watering two short beds without having the far ends of the rows suffer from lack of water. Four things usually contribute to this problem as follows:
1) they are using a garden hose (3/8" typically),
2) from a 1/2" hose faucet at the side of their house,
3) sometimes they mistakenly use 1/2" PVC pipes in the garden, and
4) some even use Schedule 40 pipe, which reduces the inside diameter even more.

Here's what I recommend you do to have the most volume and pressure for watering your garden:
1. Tap into your main water line, before it enters your house. This will be at least a 3/4" line, and often is 1", and the pressure will be unreduced by all the things going on in the house.

2. Use the same size PVC pipe between the main connection and your garden as the source pipe. This will assure that the same volume and pressure are available at the garden.

3. Continue with the same size pipe for plumbing between the beds, and do not go smaller than 3/4" pipe, even in the individual beds.

4. Use 200 PSI pipe in the beds, rather than Schedule 40. It will carry more water, it is much easier to drill the holes, and won't break your drill bit nearly as often. And if properly cared for will last 20-30 years.

5. Drill 3 holes every 4" at 45 degree angles using a #57 or #58 drill bit (see chapter 15 of the Gardening Course or look in the Files section of the Group site for details and graphic illustrations).

6. Do not make your beds much longer than 30', and certainly do not allow the far end of the bed to be higher than the water-source end. Water still hasn't learned to run up hill.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Organic gardening automating your water system

Building an Automated Watering System

Watering Soil-Beds or Grow-Boxes with 3/4" PVC pipe works well, even for 4 rows of vegetables. Here's how.
Pictorial instructions are on the Garden Master CD and in The Mittleider Gardening Course at - The Store.

On one end of your pipe, make marks dividing the circle into 4 equal parts. Two adjacent marks are at 90 degrees. Now make a mark between those two, and you have the starting points for 3 straight lines down the length of the pipe that are 45 degrees apart.

Take a piece of 2 X 4 - 6" long and notch one side of it so that a 3/4" PVC pipe fits snugly. Drill a hole from the top to the center of this notch the size of a pencil. Insert a sharpened pencil, and as one person holds the pipe from moving, another person starts at one of the three marks on the end of the pipe and makes a straight line the length of the pipe. Turn the pipe to the next mark and repeat. Then repeat a third time.

Next, take a measuring tape at least as long as your pipe, place it alongside the pipe and draw a line every 4" across the 3 lengthwise lines already drawn on the pipe.

Insert a #57 drill bit (that's .042", and is found at hobby shops, Ace Hardware, and Industrial Supply) into a hand drill and drill 3 holes every 4" the length of the pipe - on the points where the lines cross.

If your Bed is longer than the pipe, glue two pipes together - being very careful to line up the holes on both pieces of pipe.

Attach male threaded ends on both ends of your pipe. On the far end, place a threaded end-cap, and on the front-end place a ball valve with female threads.

Plumb to your water source.

Place the pipe in the center of your Soil-Beds or Grow-Boxes, on 4 - 2 X 4 X 6" blocks equally spaced along the length of the bed. Each block should have two nails in the top center placed 1" apart, to keep the pipe from
falling off.

With the holes at 45 degrees and the pipe 3 1/2" above the soil surface, the water will quickly fill the 12" planting area and water all plants in the bed.

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