Friday, October 23, 2009

Can a Mittleider garden be an Organic Garden


Many have referred to the Mittleider Method as "better than organic” - - and even “the best of organic" because most of our gardens can qualify as organic (once in a while growers in hot countries have to use pesticides or lose their whole crop).

The reasons Mittleider gardens may be the best of organic are:
1) Because we leave nothing to chance, but apply small amounts of natural mineral nutrients, all of which are approved by the USDA for use in a Certified Organic garden, to assure fast, healthy growth. This also helps our plants ward off pests and diseases that will often destroy less healthy plants.

2) We encourage growing healthy seedlings in a clean, warm environment, which gives the plants a major head-start and avoids many of the problems encountered upon germination and emergence - with cold soil, hungry bugs, damping-off, etc.

3) We water only the root zones, thus not encouraging pest and disease proliferation, plus we prune any leaf growth touching the ground, also reducing bug and disease access to the plants.

4) We allow no weeds - nor do we encourage putting mulch, etc. on the ground - since both of these harbor pests and diseases.

5) Since our plants grow very fast and reach maturity quicker than typical gardens, diseases and pests have less chance to become a problem.

6) Then we harvest and remove a crop immediately at maturity, to avoid the buildup of pests and diseases that occurs when people leave their crop too long in the garden, which is all too common in home gardens.

So you see, with the above preventative cultural practices, plus fast healthy growth, Mittleider Method gardens have much less need to use pesticides or herbicides anyway.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Winter Storage of Potatoes

Rather than applying something to your potatoes to inhibit their
ability to sprout, may I suggest you do the following: Plan to
store only healthy, blemish-free tubers, then cure them after
harvest by holding them in moist air for 1 to 2 weeks at 60 to 75
degrees. Temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit are necessary to
allow any wounds to heal.

After curing, lower the storage temperature to between 35 and 40
degrees for winter storage. Late-grown potatoes keep well for
several months if stored properly - even in basement storage rooms
and cellars. They keep best in moderately moist air.

Store your potatoes in the dark to prevent them from turning green.
Forty degree temperatures are better than 35, because potatoes
stored at 35 degrees for several months tend to become sweet.
However, this condition usually can be corrected by holding the
potatoes at about 70 degrees for a week or two before you use them.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Planted Late...when can I transplant?

Q. Some people say you need 21 days from the time the seed is planted until you transplant to outside. This will put me into June and some things like lettuce, beets, etc. seem to like the cool weather in May. So, my question is, what do I do? Do I wait and put in after 21 days or do I put in after the frost danger is gone?

A. Your “cool weather” plants will do fine in June, just keep them watered and fed. Most vegetable plants that can be grown in April and May don't "like" the cool weather so much - they can just tolerate it better than the tender plants.

There is nothing magic about 21 days for transplanting seedlings. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant require about 8 weeks before putting them in the garden, and some things, like squashes are transplanted in less than 21 days.

Tender and frost-intolerant plants must be protected until the danger of frost is past, but both lettuce and beets have been known to go through hard frosts with little damage - just not much growth. Lettuce is more tender than beets, and so will do better with some protection.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Corn in grow box - removing sucker stems

Healthy corn stalks will often produce sucker stems from the soil-line. There are several things to consider in deciding to take the sucker stems off. Can the plant support 2 or 3 stems and bring them all to maturity, with fruit? Is there ample light for more stems? Will there be sufficient room for the pollen to get from the tassels to the silk on every stem?

When we plant every 8" in the row, with two rows only 10-12" apart, most varieties of corn will do best and produce the most if there is only one stalk per plant. We are already planting closer than the traditional methods. Of course the corn grows out into the aisles, in order to get space, light, etc. Our close planting is to make watering, weeding, and feeding most efficient. For these reasons, I do not recommend you leave the sucker stems on the plant. However, be sure your main stem is completely healthy, and is not broken or badly bruised, before you take off the surrounding sucker stems. It would be better to have a slightly smaller sucker stem become the main stem, than to have a stem that is damaged, which will be subject to pests, disease, and weather damage later on.

Don't worry about what other people say about how much you are fertilizing. Unless they have over 50 years' experience in 27 countries, with 75 major gardening projects under their belts, they don't know as much about it as our leader and teacher. Let your harvest speak for itself.

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