Gardening by the Foot – a Treasure for Raised-Bed or Container Gardeners

I have said nothing about this book for a long time, for just one reason. Our inventory of books had brittle binding glue and the pages would fall out at the least provocation.

We’ve finally solved the problem! We purchased a machine and re-bound this great gardening book ourselves, using a Plastic Comb Binder.

Now that we don’t have to worry about them falling apart on you, let me tell you why those growing in containers need to consider getting your copy NOW, while they are available (Grow-Box Gardens, Let’s Grow Tomatoes, and Grow-Bed Gardening are all out of print).

Gardening by the Foot is filled with almost 250 pictures illustrating 140 pages of Jacob’s great how-to instructions on every aspect of growing in containers.

Vegetable plants need 13 mineral nutrients, and in GBTF you’ll learn how to give them exactly what they need, unlike Square Foot Gardening that promotes compost as sufficient to grow healthy plants.

Following are the chapter headings:

1. Introduction
2. Why use Mini Grow-Boxes?
3. What are mini Grow-Boxes?
4. Choosing a Location
5. preparing the area for Mini-Frames
6. Tools and Materials
7. How to Make Mini Grow-Boxes
8. Filling Grow-Boxes with Soil
9. Pre-plant Fertilizers
10. Starting Plants from Seed
11. Planting Seed in Mini-Boxes
12. Transplanting into Mini-Boxes
13. Making markers and Marking Mini-Boxes
14. Fertilizing Crops in Mini-Boxes
15. Common Garden Problems
16. Increasing Yields in Ever-bearing Crops
17. Transplanting Gallon-Size Plants into Mini-Boxes
18. Installing an Automated Watering System
19. Harvesting
20. “A” Frames and Greenhouses
21. Installing Strings to Hold Tall Plants
22. What To Do With Trouble
23. Soil Maggots
24. Nutrient Deficiencies and Corrections
25. Units of Measure

Are you serious about growing your own food? Get Gardening by the foot and SEE how the best gardener in the world did it – in his own backyard garden and in 27 countries around the world.

For a paper copy you can mark up and take to the garden with you, go to

Or you can get the digital download instantly and save a few bucks by going to

Be patient, you have to scroll down the page past several other books.

Planning Nex Year’s Garden – What Could You Produce?

Many people arrive at the end of the gardening season and wish they had planned their garden better. Often there is wasted space, and sometimes we have grown things that were not used, and perhaps couldn’t even be given away.

Now is a good time to begin planning for next year’s garden – to make sure you realize the greatest benefit from your valuable time and available space, and that you make the most of those precious 6 months of growing which nature provides us.

First you should decide what your garden is used for. Is it for casual use, with just a few things grown for fun, or do you depend on it as a major source of your family’s food? Next, decide what kinds of things are best to grow – juicy tomatoes, or that new triple-sweet corn. And then plan for how much of each thing you will grow.

How your garden is used depends on 1) whether or not you’re able or willing to devote serious effort to your garden, 2) whether you expect to feed your family just during the growing season or for the entire year, 3) what things your family likes to eat, 4) will there be supplementation from other sources, or will you be depending on your garden completely, and 5) do you want or expect to earn money from the sale of your produce.

An excellent and inexpensive database of commonly grown vegetables, with when, where, and how they can be grown, as well as how much they will produce, is contained on the Garden Wizard and Garden Master CD’s. These are wonderful resources for the serious family gardener, and can be found at under Software.

I recommend growing high-value and ever-bearing crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, pole beans, zucchini, etc., to maximize your yield in the minimum space, for the least cost and effort.

Let’s assume you have a large family you want to feed from your garden, and that you have 1/8th of an acre that can be used for this purpose. I’ll give examples of what can be grown in 30′-long soil-beds.

On 1/8th of an acre you should be able to grow thirty two 30’-long soil-beds that are 18” wide, with 3 ½’ interior aisles and 5’ end aisles.

Using vertical growing with the Mittleider Method (which includes organic gardening, container gardening, hydroponic gardening, and soil gardening), your garden should produce the following amounts of fresh, healthy vegetables:

Five beds of indeterminate tomatoes – 2,000-4,000# of tomatoes from July through October. Two beds of sweet peppers – 500-1,000 peppers. Two beds of eggplant – 500-1,000 eggplant. Two beds of cucumber – 750-1,500 cucumbers. Three beds of pole beans – 400-800# of beans. Two beds of zucchini – 500-1,000# of zucchini.

So far we’ve only used 1/2 of the garden, and you have more than enough vegetables to feed the family during the growing season, with excess to sell or give away. Doubling the space of these 6 crops could provide income to buy other food staples, and/or provide sufficient to dry or bottle food for the winter months.

Growing easily-stored food in the other half of your garden, such as potatoes, cabbage, beets, onions, turnips and carrots can provide the family fresh food during the winter. You should be able to produce the following amounts, and if you will provide proper cold storage these can be usable for up to 6 months.

Two beds of carrots – 200-400# of carrots. Two beds of cabbage – 200-400# of cabbage. One bed of beets – 100-200# of beets. Two beds of onions – 200-400# of onions. Five beds of potatoes – 500-1,000# of potatoes.

The carrots, cabbage and beet crops can often be doubled by growing an early and late crop in the same space, which make these varieties more valuable for the serious grower.

In this scenario you have four beds left to plant. Crops like corn, large squash, and watermelon should only be grown if you have ample EXTRA space, because they take much space for the yield they produce. For example one bed of corn should produce about 90-100 ears of corn – all within about 2 weeks, whereas a bed of tomatoes should produce 400-800 POUNDS of tomatoes, spaced over 4 months.

Take the time now for this important planning exercise. Have your family decide what they want to eat, calculate the amounts of each vegetable needed, and then plan your space so you can grow at least that much in your garden.

Good Growing!


Jim Kennard, President of Food For Everyone Foundation, has a wealth of teaching and gardening training and experience upon which to draw in helping the Foundation’s mission of “Teaching the world to grow food one family at a time.” Jim has been a Mittleider gardener for the past twenty nine years; he is a Master Mittleider Gardening Instructor, and has taught classes and worked one-on-one with Dr. Jacob Mittleider on several humanitarian gardening training projects in the USA and abroad. He has conducted projects in Armenia, America, Madagascar, and Turkey by himself. He assists gardeners all over the world from the website FAQ pages and free Gardening Group, and grows a large demonstration garden at Utah’s Hogle Zoo in his spare time.

Gardening Books, CDs and Software are available at

Having Trouble Finding Good Soil Products

Q.  since the goal is to use inexpensive materials, and also the right mix of ingredients, I am now at a stopping point.  Other than very pricy small bags of peat I cannot find organic media as recommended in the Gardening Library.  What should I do?

I can get topsoil in bulk, but which is preferred?  Mushroom Mix or some other type?

I estimate I will need 10-15 cubic yards. I will be container gardening in 100 – 5 gallon buckets.  No way to build grow boxes because I live in a rental that has low maintenance rock garden and desert shrubs.

A.  If you just need enough for 100 – 5-gallon containers, you should only need 2 1/2 cubic yards of material.  One cubic foot = 7.5 gallons, so 500 gallons = 67 cubic feet,  and 67 cubic feet (67/27) = 2.48 cubic yards.

I recommend you stay away from topsoil, or any other type of dirt, for that matter.  In buckets, or other containers, dirt will set up and become very hard.  It’s also very heavy, and disagreeable to work with. 

I take it there are no lumber mills nearby.  What about forests or stands of pine trees?  Pine needles would be excellent.  Are there any stands of cedar trees in your hills?  the “copi soil” beneath those, which consists of previous years’ dropped needles, would be good also.

The lighter the material the better, so long as it is clean and weed-free.
In Utah, mushroom mix has no dirt in it, but is organic material made from shavings, sawdust, turkey droppings, etc., and therefore it could be very good.

Growing in 5-gallon containers in the heat of the Southern Nevada desert will be a real challenge.  I hope they are at least white, to reflect a little sun.  Your biggest challenge will be to keep them moist and cool.  Anything you can do to keep the sun off the containers will be helpful, and watering multiple times each day will likely be necessary.

If that is all you need, perhaps you can find some help with peat moss,
perlite, etc. and not end up with dirt in your containers, which will be

Additional information on container gardening can be found in Gardening by the Foot and the Mittleider Gardening Course, available at

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!!

Growing in Pots – How Much Fertilizer to Use

Some of you who grow in containers may want to grow in pots of different sizes, and will need to know how much Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed natural mineral nutrients to use. 
Starting from the basics:  Dr. Mittleider tells us to mix 1 1/2 ounce (3 tablespoons, or 9 teaspoons) of Pre-Plant into the soil of an 18″ X 18″ X 2 3/4″ square flat, and 1/2 that amount of Weekly Feed.  All of this before planting seed or seedlings.  Let’s do the math and see how much soil we have, then we can translate it into other size containers.  18 X 18 X 2.75 = 891 cubic inches.  With 1728 cubic inches in 1 cubic foot, we have .5156 cubic feet of material in an 18″ square flat.  We will round to 1/2 cubic foot.
Suppose you have a 6″ round pot that’s 6″ deep, and want to know how much to use.  Multiply pi X radius squared X height, or 3.14156 X 9 X 6 = 169.64.  Divide by 1728, and you have .098, or 1/10th of a cubic foot.
Since you will apply 9 teaspoons of Pre-Plant to 1/2 cubic foot of material, you would apply 2 scant teaspoons to the soil in your 6″ pot.  Plus, you apply 1 scant teaspoon of Weekly Feed.
For on-going feeding of the plants in your pot, you either water with the Constant Feed solution of 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) in 3 gallons of water, or you can sprinkle 1 scant teaspoon of WF on the surface and water it in.
Now suppose your pot is 6″ square, instead of round.  Multiply 6 X 6 X 6 = 216 cu in.  Divide by 1728 = .125, or 1/8th of a cubic foot.  Nine is to .5 as X (the unknown) is to .125 = 2.25.  So you apply 2 1/4 teaspoons of Pre-Plant and 1 1/8 teaspoons of Weekly Feed to a 6″ square pot of soil mix.  Did everyone follow that?  Probably not, but if you will follow those simple formulas you can know how much PP and WF fertilizers to apply to any size container you might be using.
Isn’t it nice to know what you’re doing, and be able to eliminate some of the unknowns in the gardening equation?  For an excellent book on growing in containers get Gardening By The Foot (NOT Square Foot Gardening) by Jacob Mittleider, available at

P.S. 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 https:// for the best gardening books available anywhere!  Get one NOW and be gardening TODAY

Build Grow-Boxes From Old Tires – They Last “Forever” and They’re Free

Group:  Joe – kindly shared with us his experience making Grow-Boxes out of old tires.  I believe this has merit, and perhaps some of you who want to use Grow-Boxes will want to save this set of instructions against the time you need it.  It’s just another way of doing container gardening. Thanks Joe!
“Hope this will help someone.  In our area we had hurricanes this past year, and lumber is terribly expensive, so we just had to have an alternative.  The tires are not my original idea.  You can learn more at the Robert Noble Foundation website  And some good pictures – also from the same website, are
Here’s how to make Grow-Boxes using old tires.
1) Get some free 15″ tires that are all same size.
2) Cut the sidewalls off with a sharp knife or jigsaw. 
3) Cut all the way across tire with a hacksaw. 
4) Lay tire over work area thread side up.
5) Take another tire and slide 6″ under end of first tire. 
6) Screw sheet metal screws into the 6″ overlap, 1″ in from each corner.
7) Continue on till you have the length tire board you want (over 30′ does not stretch correctly). 
8) Leave enough on each end to fold back over tire (make a tight fold back but leave space to slide in a piece of 5/8″ rebar).
9) From another tire thread cut some 6″ wide pieces.
10) Starting from fold back on the tire board, measure and mark at 18″ intervals,  all the way to the other end.
11) On thread side at these marks center and screw the 6″ pieces with sheet metal screws, 1″ in from each side and centered from top to bottom. 
12) Stretch a tight string 1′ high and length of box – plus 2′ more on each end .
13) Drive 1 piece of 5/8″ X 36″ rebar into ground at starting point of grow box. 
14) slide board end loop over post, being sure that thread, with patches face out.  Later it will be easy to replace if necessary. 
15) Push 2 pieces of rebar into ground at 3′ intervals and 1″ outside string.  Slanting the rebar away from string thus creating a wedge to hold tire on edge.
16) At loose end of board slide the 10″ piece of rebar through loop.
17) Straight in line with string, put temporary post in ground inclined away from the box and 6 to 7 feet from the end of the Grow-Box.
18) Make sling to go around ends of 10″ rebar. 
19) Connect one end of come-a-long through loop you just created. 
20) Attach other end of come-a-long to incline post  that is 6-7 feet away but in line with where end of stretched tire board will be. 
22) Drive one 18″ piece of rebar down between each of the outside 6″ tire pieces and tire board thus anchoring the grow box side every 18″. 
23) When you reach the end remove come-a-long and the piece of 10″ rebar. 
24) Slip corner post through loop and drive rebar into ground. 
25) Make other side of grow box the same way.  
26) Cut one more tire. Use as is (after cutting to fit) and loop from inside end of one tire board to the inside end of the other tire board.
Parts; Sheet metal screws – tires – Rebar – 3/8″ X 18″ Stakes for every 18 inches,  5/8 X 36″ – 4 corner posts, 5/8 X 10 – 1 for stretching tire board – String and stakes to stretch line where box side will be.
Happy gardening. Joe

Growing and Maintaining a Sustainable Garden

Having a sustainable garden means very different things to different people. Some folks are led to believe that a sustainable garden must use only organic materials, because someday the commercially-available mineral nutrients may not be available. To me this sounds somewhat like the suggestion that we should all ride bicycles because someday gasoline may not be available.

I suggest that a sustainable garden means one that can be used productively over an extended period of time, and would necessarily involve several elements, including the following:

  1. Growing food you want to eat, so you are motivated to continue growing,
  2. Growing economically, so that it is worthwhile doing, and
  3. Taking care of environmental issues, so that the ground will continue to support growing healthy crops.

You can grow a sustainable garden using organic gardening, container gardening, hydroponic gardening, or soil-bed gardening.  The Mittleider method encompasses them all. 

Growing Food You Want to Eat  The plants to be grown should be chosen primarily on what your family wants to eat, and what will grow in your locale.  The Garden master CD, available at in the Store section, has an excellent vegetable database, which will give you all you need to know about which vegi’s you should plant, as well as when and where to plant them, and how much you can expect to harvest.  I could take this whole article to rave about the GM CD, but you can look that up in the Software category.

After that, consideration might be given to using heirloom seed rather than hybrid, if you are very concerned about losing the ability to replace seed each year from commercial sources. Growing for seed is easy if you’re growing heirloom corn or tomatoes, but very difficult and time-consuming if you’re wanting non-fruiting vegetables like onions, carrots, lettuce, etc.

An easy and inexpensive alternative to trying to harvest your own seeds is to buy the Garden-In-A-Can.  This is a #10 can full of 15 varieties of triple-sealed heirloom seed, available at  Storing it in a cool dry place will maintain a high germination percentage for up to ten years, and makes me grin (because I don’t have to do it) every time I think of the folks trying to grow for seed in their own backyard.

Growing Productively and Economically

Using the best-known growing practices will assure you the greatest yield of healthy vegetables from the smallest space, and with the least amount of labor and financial inputs per unit of production. By doing this a family can be self sufficient in their food requirements from proper gardening of a small fraction of an acre. I promise those we teach that they will have twice the yield on only 25% of the space they’ve used traditionally.

This is the greatest evidence of success in achieving a sustainable garden. Good examples of excellent, high-yield gardening methods that have been proven effective worldwide are found in the gardening books and CD’s at And many pictures of successful gardens using these methods can be seen at the free gardening group

Caring for the environment

Gardening should always be done without injuring the land, but rather should improve the land, so that it will continue to support healthy plants indefinitely. Therefore, pesticides and herbicides should be used very judiciously, and only in extreme need.

Wherever possible these issues should be handled by cultural practices, such as those taught by Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider in the Mittleider Gardening Course and other books, CD’s and software at as follows:

  1. Eliminate all weeds from the garden area before planting and during the growing season. If not weeds will steal most of the water and nutrients from your crops.
  2. Prepare the growing area to be ideal for plant growth, but inhospitable to bugs and diseases.
  3. Water only the plants’ root zone.  This saves over 1/2 the water usually used.
  4. Begin plants in a protected environment for a fast, healthy and strong start.
  5. Feed plants balanced natural mineral nutrients to assure fast and healthy growth.
  6. Harvest all plants at maturity to avoid allowing pests and diseases to multiply.
  7. Discard any bug or disease infested plant parts away from the garden, and incorporate healthy plant parts into the soil to improve soil structure.

Following these sustainable gardening procedures will assure your family a great yield of healthy vegetables, give tremendous satisfaction, and even give you pleasure for many years to come.

Materials To Use – Wood, Cinder Block, or Cement

Q. I do container gardening.  Cement blocks would match my landscaping plan better than wood.  However, I’m guessing they would be difficult to keep straight over time.  Is that why we are advised to use wood?  I’ve also heard that cement blocks have some chemicals or minerals that leach out of them over the years.  Is this part of the reason to not use them for Grow-Boxes?

A.  Reasons for using wood for Grow-Boxes include the fact that

1) wood is available most everywhere, and
2) is relatively inexpensive;
3) it lasts a long time, if painted or treated;
4) it is easy to level, keep straight, and attach together;
5) it provides an attractive, uniform appearance to the garden;
6) it is non-toxic, so long as walnut is not used, and so long as treatment materials are safe.
Reasons for using cinder blocks instead of wood include:
1) If they are available – probably used – for free or at very low cost they can be less costly than wood.
2) They will last longer than wood, since they don’t deteriorate from water and bugs.
3) They may look better or fit into a landscape decorating scheme better than wood (or not!).
4) They give a place to sit when working in the Grow-Box
Reasons against using cinder blocks for Grow-Boxes:
1) Normally much more expensive to purchase than wood.
2) Take up much more space from the aisles (16″ wide instead of 2″ for wood).
3) Require filling with cement and rebar stakes in each block to keep them from moving.
Another alternative is cement frames.  These are great where wood is unavailable, expensive, or subject to heavy termite damage, etc.  They also work very well for commercial operations, because they last indefinitely and require very little maintenance.  The Mittleider gardening books have examples of many different materials being used successfully for Grow-Boxes.  They are available at
Here’s how to install cement Grow-Boxes:  Build a few frames for boxes 3″ thick and 8″ tall.  Place galvanized barbed wire one inch deep in the fresh cement, to give strength and stability to the box.  For fast production in pouring cement, make the inside frames in 2 pieces, breaking in the middle of the long sides.  After only 2-3 hours these can be carefully removed and placed in the new location for pouring at least 2 boxes each day from 1 set of frames.
A short cement “curb” works well in growing seedlings, to keep seedling flats off the ground.  This is 3″ high, 4″ wide on the bottom and 3″ high at the top.  They are placed 15″ apart, so that 18″ flats have 1 1/2″ on each curb.  Bailing wire is placed inside the fresh curb cement to give strength and keep the curb from separating if the cement is broken.