Gardening is one of the key means of feeding your family, whether in an emergency or you just want to have good, healthy food that you grew yourself. Unfortunately, gardening can be difficult, time-consuming, and of course, expensive.
However, Dr. Jacob Mittleider, sometimes known as the Garden Doctor, developed a gardening system combining the best characteristics of raised bed gardening and hydroponics. The result is a gardening system that is easy to prepare, inexpensive, and offers great results.
There are a number of great reasons to use the Mittleider gardening method. First, it’s easy, inexpensive, and doesn’t require a lot of space. You can easily convert your existing garden system to the Mittleider Method or start from scratch. You’ll save space and water, get higher yields, and healthier plants. This method doesn’t cost a lot, either, and you can purchase and store all of the nutrients your plants need for long term use.
In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of Mittleider gardening. We’ll give you a brief overview of how it is accomplished, as well as the ‘formulas’ to prepare your beds and feed them. But first, let’s take a look at a friend’s gardening experiment with the Mittleider method.
LDS Prepper’s Garden Experiment
My fellow Youtuber and friend, LDS Prepper.com, has been using the Mittleider gardening method for 8 or 9 years. Before that, his wife was the real gardener in the family, with 30 years of experience and lots of gardening education. So, as a prepper, LDSPrepper started learning about the Mittleider method and what it had to offer to see if it was a good fit for his gardening needs.
The method was intriguing, so the two did a grand gardening experiment.
As a beginner gardener, he used the Mittleider method on half their yard, and she, as an experienced gardener, gardened the traditional way on the other half. And surprisingly, the Mittleleider method, which was simple to carry out (even for a beginner), out-produced the conventional method by 6 to 1!
The Mittleleider garden method has merit for home gardening and prepping, and the two have been using it ever since. But what exactly is this method and why would you want to use it?
What Is the Mittleider Gardening Method?
The Mittleider gardening method is a way of gardening that uses raised beds or boxes. It will maximize the benefits gained specifically from using 16 essential nutrients that plants need to grow and thrive. This method was created after years of research in order to optimize garden yield while using the least amount of space and work.
Each raised bed or box is directly connected to the ground, then filled with a gardening substrate. This substrate is usually an inexpensive mix of 25% sand and 75% sawdust. Sometimes peat moss and perlite are used instead. A preplant nutrient mix is added to the substrate before the seeds are planted. Then, plants are fed a weekly mix to ensure they receive all of the necessary nutrients for growth.
Plants are planted close together, and vertical gardening systems are used to maximize the space. Plants are slowly watered with direct lines to maximize water use and reduce water waste.
These beds can be in a greenhouse or just outside, whichever works best for your space and climate. The end result of the MIttleider Gardening method is a high-yielding, nutrient-dense garden in a very small space.
Advantages and Benefits of the Mittleider Gardening Method
There are a number of benefits to using the Mittleider Gardening method to help you get the most from your garden.
1. It’s easy to follow. Dr. Mittleider has done all of the research and the work for you. This method is easy to follow with his book, even for a complete beginner.
2. You can use it in any type of soil. This method uses a custom-created soil (that is inexpensive to create), so it doesn’t matter what type of soil you have naturally, even if you live where the ground is made of clay, or it is rocky, alkaline, or even depleted of nutrients.
3. It works in any type of climate.
4. You don’t need much space. This method is excellent for small spaces where you need to grow a lot of food without much room.
5. You can convert your existing garden, greenhouse, or raised bed to the Mittleider Method. You can build new beds or use existing ones.
6. The Mittleider method creates high yields of nutrient-rich vegetables. In addition, plants are regularly fed with trace minerals and fertilizer, which increases their nutritional benefit.
7. Plants will naturally be healthier and more robust, meaning fewer problems with pests and weeds.
8. Your homegrown foods will be more nutrient-dense due to increased trace minerals.
9. You can store several years’ worth of garden nutrients in a small space for just a small investment. But, as a prepper, you may wonder if this method is sustainable. While you do need fertilizers and mineral mix to make this method work, you can purchase these inexpensively and store them long-term in a small space.
10. The Mittleider method uses up to 40% less water than traditional gardening does. Watering is done slowly but consistently, sending water and nutrients exactly where needed, which reduces wasted water
11. You can easily add greenhouse coverings to your raised beds to extend the growing season.
12. It’s an easy method to learn and use to care for and harvest your crops. Dr. Mittleider’s method is outlined in his book, making it easy to follow even for beginner gardeners.
I decided to use my geothermal greenhouse to start my Mittleider gardening beds. Inside the greenhouse, I made two long beds. I should be able to grow a lot in this space! If you watch this video, you can see how I built and set up the Mittleider beds inside so that I can really extend my garden season.
Of course, if you already have a greenhouse or garden beds, you can just use the ones you have and adapt them for this gardening method. You’ll just add the soil mix and the preplant mix to the bed before you plant in it.
Two Nutrient Mixes for the Mittleider Gardening Method
Mittleider Preplant Mix is the nutrient mix that is added to the soil before you plant your seeds. The weekly feed is a different mix that is fed to your plants every week, rather than just once or twice throughout the growing season. It is easy to mix up both formulas and store them in 5-gallon buckets to use when you need them. Check out my video for exactly how to mix and keep the preplant mix and weekly feed.
How To Mix Mittleider Preplant Mix and Weekly Feed
As demonstrated in the video, you can mix this up in a wheelbarrow and store it in a bucket for when you need it. You’ll use 1 ounce of mix per linear foot between each row of plants to get this started. You’ll want to do this before you plant your seeds. However, LDS Prepper also adds preplant mix to his beds once a month throughout the growing season.
- 20 pounds of gypsum (gypsum for calcium in areas of less than 20 inches of rain per year, but use lime if you have more than 20 inches of rain per year).
- 4 ounces of borax
- 1 pound Epsom salt
You’ll use the weekly feed once a week throughout the growing season. You’ll want to feed your plants ½ ounce of weekly feed per linear foot of garden bed in between each row of plants. Just mix up the following ingredients and store them in a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. You can make enough to last all season.
- 25 pounds of 16-16-16 fertilizer
- 4 pounds Epsom salt
- 10-ounce bag of Mittleider micronutrient mix (trace minerals and elements that plants need)
This is a pretty simple method of gardening. Once you have your systems in place, you just have to remember to use the weekly feed.
Final Thoughts on the Mittleider Gardening Method
I’m really excited to work on the Mittieder gardening method this year. I’m looking forward to high yields of highly nutritious food from my greenhouse and other beds.
Is the Mittleider gardening method organic?
No, this gardening method isn’t considered to be organic because it relies on commercial fertilizer.
Does the Mittleider gardening method require a lot of work?
You may find that the Mittleider method requires a little bit of extra initial setup since you are creating gardening boxes and a watering system. However, if you already have these things in place from a traditional gardening setup, you won’t need to recreate them. However, once your systems are in place, the weekly labor is less than in a conventional garden.
Do I need to prune my Mittleider garden?
Pruning is an effective way to manage your garden. Simply prune away excess vegetation, so you don’t waste the plant’s nutrients or energy.