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How to Grow a Sustainable Garden:
Organic or Chemical
Which is Best?

Gardening the Mittleider Way - How
to grow the healthiest vegetables!
Learn how to grow the healthiest vegetables using the Mittleider Method of sustainable gardening!

Growing a Sustainable Garden:
How to Grow the Healthiest Vegetables

Copyright (c) 2005 Jim Kennard
Food For Everyone Foundation

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 elements.

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 system.

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 "something else!"

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 water soluble.

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 Feed mixes properly, anyone can grow virtually any variety of plants successfully in almost any soil or climate.

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 garden.

Jim Kennard

Jim Kennard is President of the Food For Everyone Foundation, 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 website:

Recommended Additional Reading:
Sustainable Gardening - An Overview
(also by Jim Kennard)

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