Mittleider Gardening

Hard-Times Gardening – Sustainable Without Fertilizers

I teach the Mittleider Method of vegetable gardening. It's often called better than organic gardening, because we use only natural mineral nutrients, and eliminate weeds and pests without pesticides and herbicides. In addition, virtually nothing is left to chance - much different from those who depend on the unknown composition of manure and compost as their only source of food for their gardens.

I'm asked occasionally if the Mittleider gardening method is sustainable in the long run, "since it seems to be based on the availability of modern day fertilizers." Since some folks feel that today's fertilizers may not always be available in the future, how viable is this system for ongoing sustainability in the long run?

What Is The Mittleider Gardening Method ?

First, the Mittleider method is NOT dependent on commercial fertilizers for viability. Our experience around the world for over 40 years, however, is that everywhere we have been - including several countries in Africa, Armenia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Russia, and 23 others - fertilizers have always been available.

The careful use of natural mineral fertilizers increases a family's gardening yield many times - sometimes as much as 10 times what they were growing without them. This is what has allowed America to change from one person feeding 4 or 5, to one person feeding 100 other people. So why would we NOT use them?? And why would we not want to teach people in the developing countries to use them - unless perhaps we WANT them to stay in the 19th century?

Fertilizers To Use For Mittleider Gardening

We recommend people obtain enough natural mineral fertilizers and seed (a #10 can of 15 varieties of heirloom seeds is available at for at least one extra year's garden. Mineral Fertilizers keep almost indefinitely, and they cost very little, compared to the yield they produce. Small storable packages of micro-nutrients are also available at

Here's how you can grow a productive and healthy garden using manure tea. Get a large burlap bag and a 55-gallon barrel. Find cow or horse manure (chicken or turkey is twice as hot, so less will be needed), and fill the bag 2/3's full. Place the bag in the barrel and fill it with water. Let the manure "tea" soak or "steep" for 24 hours, then use the tea to water your vegetable plants.

Replace the bag of manure in the barrel and let steep for 48 hours. Use the tea, then dump the spent manure out and dig into an unused portion of the garden - it has almost no nutrient value, but can improve soil tilth.

Remember to plant your plants a little further apart when using this method, because they will be competing for less available nutrition. In addition, every watering should be with the manure tea for your plants to be healthy and thrive. You should expect to grow a smaller garden, and spend some time finding manure.

If manure just isn't available, consider saving kitchen scraps and human waste. Many countries do it all the time, so it's not the end of the world. And all clean, healthy plant residue should be saved and properly composted for re-use in the garden - again preferably as manure tea.

The Food For Everyone foundation teaches the Mittleider method of organic gardening. Know as the poor mans hydroponics you can increase your yields five to ten times. Tomatoes, vegetables, herbs, berries you name it these nutrients will produce the best results.

About The Author Jim Kennard is the president of the Food for everyone foundation and a principal author for the organic gardening website

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