Q. The Mittleider Gardening Method seems to be based on the availability of modern day fertilizers. Understanding that current day fertilizers may not be available in the future, how viable is this system for ongoing sustainability?
A. First off, the Mittleider Method is NOT dependent on commercial fertilizers for viability – see the third paragraph. The reality for over 40 years, however, is that everywhere we have been – including several countries in Africa, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, and 25 others – fertilizers have always been available.
Using modern day fertilizers judiciously 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 1 person feeding 4 or 5 to 1 person feeding 100. 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?
We strongly recommend people obtain enough fertilizers and seed (a #10 can of 15 varieties of heirloom seeds are available at www.growfood.com) for at least one extra year’s garden. Fertilizer stores almost indefinitely without losing its value, and costs very little, compared to the yield it produces. Small storable packages of micro-nutrients are also available at www.growfood.com.
If fertilizers were ever to become unavailable it would be because the market system had collapsed, and everything would indeed be fouled up. In that event, using the methods we teach and using manure, compost, or even human waste, if that was all that was available – as “Manure Tea” as described in several places – the Mittleider gardener will still grow 2-4 times as much as his neighbor.
Gas may also become unavailable. Perhaps some folks would advocate selling your car and walking right now, because automobile travel really isn’t sustainable in the long run. And gas is much more difficult and costly to store than fertilizer. Is that analogy too strong? Sorry if I offend anyone, but let’s all use wisely the best that we have available, and prepare calmly for the future. “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”