Are Sawdust, Sand, etc. Used in Regular Mittleider Gardens – or Only in Grow-Boxes – and Why?

Q.  I have seen many pictures of both soil boxes and beds.  I read where
the soil in the boxes is basically a soiless mix, but the beds I see look as though they are made with the soil pulled up and ridged.  There is no difference that I can see between the beds and the paths in many pictues.  The soil color and texture is the same in both the paths and the ridged beds in many of the pictures, leading me to believe there was only soil used in their construction, unless of course the entire garden was amended, which seemed unlikely to me.

A.  You’re right. When we garden in the dirt we use whatever dirt is there.
And we promise people “a great garden in any soil” with no soil amendments.
That is no idle promise either, as we never amend the soil in any of the
projects we work on, unless it’s to till into the soil the clean plant residue
of the preceding crop.  The reason we can promise – and deliver – a great garden in any soil, is that the Mittleider Magic natural mineral nutrients provide the nutrition the plants need.  Perhaps that’s why some people call them “the poor man’s hydroponic mix.”

Growing in containers, on the other hand, is a different proposition, and we
recommend no soil be used.  There are several advantages to container gardening, among them avoiding any problems with weeds, diseases, and bugs, all of which often reside in the dirt found in our gardens.

Dirt is also MUCH heavier than sawdust, peat moss, perlite, rice hulls, pine
needles, etc., and over time pushes the container walls out.

Recommended container “soil” mixtures also perform the 5 essential soil
functions better than most dirt, without some of the negatives, such as clay
soil’s tendency to bake hard, crack, not drain well, and not allow roots to
penetrate easily. For example, it warms up better in the spring, yet it stays
cool in the summer; it holds moisture well, yet never stays wet enough to drown the plants and provides ample soil air; it anchors plant roots well, but they are easy to pull when necessary; it holds the fertilizers, and yet they don’t
become “fixed” or adhere to the soil particles as much as they do in the dirt.

And of course the lightweight materials are great for growing and harvesting
root crops.

With all these advantages, why don’t we promote Grow-Box gardening more?

Thirty years ago Jacob Mittleider promoted it heavily, because he felt that for a
serious gardener the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.  But over time he came to realize that the following negatives – for most people – outweighed the positives.

There are significant cost and time elements in building and filling containers.
Also, they are less forgiving for such things as neglecting to water or feed
regularly.  And in some locations the cost is truly prohibitive, materials just
aren’t available, or would be destroyed quickly by insect pests.

So, if you lack soil in a sunny spot, build a Grow-Box.  Or if you are infested with bugs, weeds, or diseases, build Grow-Boxes.  They really are a wonderful way to grow huge crops of healthy vegetables.  But for most of you – who have dirt to use and don’t want the expense and time commitment required to build containers – grow in the dirt with confidence that you really can have a great garden in any soil, and in almost any climate!

The Mittleider Gardening books and Manuals teach all you need to know about this subject, and can be purchased in the Store section, or as digital downloads. 

A digital copy costs 30-40% less, and is available instantly!  I HIGHLY recommend you look here for the best gardening books available anywhere!  Get one NOW and be gardening TODAY!!