People often ask how they can grow the healthiest
vegetables, and sometimes think using anything but
organic materials may be somehow harmful – to the
plants or those who eat them.
Let’s determine the truth of the matter with four
basic principles and a few brief examples from Dr.
Jacob R. Mittleider’s worldwide experience.
What Plants Need
Plants require 16 elements for healthy growth. The
first 3 - carbon, oxygen and hydrogen - are readily
obtained from the air. Through photosynthesis, plants
create 95% of their substance from these first 3
The other 13 elements come from the soil and make up
only 5% of the plant, but are nonetheless vitally
important, for without them the plant will fail.
Most importantly, the plant can only access these 13
nutrients as water-soluble minerals through its root
The Role of Chemicals
The chemist says that soil is made up of "chemicals;"
the geologist uses the term "minerals;" and the
organic enthusiast calls it "organic and inorganic"
material. They are all talking about the same
thing. Therefore, let's not get carried away with
refusing to use "chemicals" in the garden in favor
of something else, because in fact there is no
Soils Get Depleted Over Time
Most soils naturally contain the other 13 elements
(mineral nutrients) needed by plants, but thousands
of years of leaching and crop removal have removed
most of the water-soluble compounds, making what's
left largely unusable.
For trees and shrubs this is not a big problem: they
grow slowly enough that they can wait for the natural
chemical processes constantly going on in the soil to
make small amounts of naturally-occurring nutrients
Vegetable plants, on the other hand, grow very quickly,
multiplying their size many times in just a few weeks.
Many complete their life cycle, including flowers,
fruit, and seeds, in only 60-90 days! This is why
they often need assistance in the form of soil
amendments and/or fertilizers.
Use of Organic Materials
Organic materials can improve soil structure, provide
food for beneficial soil bacteria, and add mineral
nutrients. When used, however, they should be clean
(weed, insect and disease-free).
Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider has worked and taught in many
countries for 39 years, and he always found the
people were growing organically – doing their best
with compost and manure – as they have been doing for
thousands of years, and yet they were starving!
The Mittleider Method of Sustainable Gardening
With his 20 years of background in the Nursery/Bedding
Plant business, Dr. Mittleider experimented with
adding small amounts of natural mineral nutrients to
supplement the organic materials being used – always
in the best amounts and ratios he knew. By doing this
he increased yields of healthy vegetables everywhere
he went by as much as 10 to 1!
Over time, he improved his nutrient mix to the point
that today, using the Mittleider Pre-Plant and Weekly
properly, anyone can grow virtually any
variety of plants successfully in almost any soil or
Misuse and over
-application of the
mineral salts in commercial fertilizers
can cause problems. This was the case in Russia for
many years. When Dr. Mittleider began teaching and
growing there in 1989, the USSR’s Agriculture Agents
actually stole plants from his garden, looking for
nitrate toxicity in "those dark green, beautiful
plants," hoping to expose him and force him to leave
the country. But there was no toxicity! And before
long the Agriculture Minister went on their National
TV to proclaim "The only food grown in Russia that’s
fit to eat is grown in a Mittleider Garden."
Extensive tests by both the Brigham Young University
and Stukenholtz Soil Labs found no toxicity in any
Mittleider gardens, including Dr. Mittleider's
personal garden that was in use for over 20 years.
Organic Methods and Natural Mineral Nutrients
In summary, Dr. Mittleider puts all available clean,
healthy organic residues into the ground immediately,
for the maximum benefit to soil and plants, and then
applies small amounts of God-given natural mineral
nutrients at regular intervals to assure that his
plants have complete and balanced nutrition.
I recommend you take advantage of the knowledge
Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider has gained from his extensive
education, training, and years of practical experience
to assure the greatest success in your vegetable
is President of the Food For Everyone
, a non-profit organization with the
mission of "Teaching the world to grow food one
family at a time". You'll find many free vegetable
gardening resources, including a gardening ebook,
greenhouse plans, automated watering plans, and
a free chapter from each of the great gardening
books and software CD's Jim offers, at the