Growing Vertically – What Varieties – What books –

Q.  I am planning on trying a vertical garden (most of the veggies) next Spring.  I have heard about “vertical” growing methods, but I am not quite sure what all the details are.   Also, when and how do you prune tomato plants?   Do all tomato plants need to be pruned? 

A.  Several of the Mittleider gardening books give good illustrations and instructions for vertical growing.  I recommend the Mittleider Gardening Course, Gardening by the Foot, Let’s Grow Tomatoes, and Grow-Bed Gardening.  The best place to obtain all of them is by getting the Mittleider Gardening Library CD.  All are available at www.growfood.com in the Store section under Books and Software.

Vegetable varieties that can be grown vertically include indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers (not the bush type), pole beans, smaller varieties of vining squash, small melons, greenhouse varieties of peppers, and eggplant.

Beans don’t need to be pruned, but all others should be pruned regularly, by removing all sucker stems as soon as they begin to grow.  Several articles on the website in the FAQ section are devoted to pruning.  I recommend you look there for a comprehensive discussion on how to prune – however, the books will be the best, as they include pictures and illustrations.

Hard-Pan Clay Soil – Usable for Garden?

Q.  We are living in a very bad hard-pan soil area.  When I dig a hole and add water, the water will stay for days.  Can I have a garden on this ground?

A.  So long as you have plenty of sunshine and access to water, the soil is no problem! 

We promise “a great garden in any soil, and in almost any climate.”   And we mean it!   If you will follow the illustrations and instructions in the Mittleider gardening books that are available at www.growfood.com you will not even need to amend your soil with organic materials, and you can grow just fine in hard clay soil.

What you’ll be doing is making slightly raised, ridged, level soil-beds, and growing inside those.  The only thing approaching soil amendments I do is plant small seeds by mixing 1 part seed with 100 parts sand, then cover the seed with sand, rather than clay soil. 

Then, after the plants are up, and the clay soil begins to crack as it loses soil moisture, I will apply 5 to 10 pounds of sand to those cracks before watering.  Doing this twice is usually enough to stop the damage to your plants’ roots from the cracking, and over time it improves the soil in the soil-bed as well.

If you feel the clay soil is just too hard to work with, and you’d rather not fight it, then build Grow-Boxes and grow your food above-ground.  Several Mittleider gardening books show you how, including Grow-Box Gardening, Gardening By The Foot, and Lets Grow Tomatoes.  And The Mittleider Gardening Course has a section  that is devoted to Grow-Box gardening.

Best Spacing For Growing Tomatoes Vertically

Q.  The planting configuration and spacing in Let’s Grow Tomatoes is much different than what is recommended in other places, such as The Mittleider Gardening Course and The Garden Master. Why are they so different, and which is “right” or better?

A.  There are several reasons for the different tomato plant spacings recommended in the Mittleider materials. His 9 books were written over 25 years, and were based on his experiences in different situations and locations around the world. The changes reflect his increased experience – with plants, Soil-Beds, Grow-Boxes, greenhouse v.s. garden and field production, and people. 

Let’s Grow Tomatoes teaches how to grow tomatoes in Grow-Boxes that are 5 feet wide, with the plants 6 or 7 inches apart in rows 28 inches apart going across the width of the beds. A few years of experimentation showed Dr. M. what he now considers an easier and/or better way to grow them.

The 5-foot width made it difficult for people to reach all the way into the middle to prune, feed, water, and pick, and so he now recommends boxes no more than 4 feet wide. In that format, planting rows lengthwise has advantages, including easier pruning, feeding and picking, and the ability to automate the watering process.

Another factor that influenced the changes is that the close planting recommended in Let’s Grow Tomatoes requires regular and accurate pruning in order to allow adequate light into all the plants. Dr. M. found that this was not being done consistently or properly, and the yield suffered.

He now recommends planting from 8 to 12 inches apart (depending on the grower’s experience and commitment to pruning), and he only plants two rows of plants in a 4 foot wide Grow-Box.  Light to the plants is assured by guiding alternating plants in each row up strings to 2 rows of wire or pipe that are strung the length of the beds on the top of T-frames.

Yields are generally better using the new methods, the T-frames cost less than stakes or A-frames and are permanent, and the time and effort are reduced.

I highly recommend following the methods described in The Garden Master software CD and The Mittleider Gardening Course book, both available at www.growfood.com.

Hard-Pan Clay Soil – Usable for Garden?

Q.  We are living in a very bad hard-pan soil area. When I dig a hole and add water, the water will stay for days. Can I have a garden on this ground?

A.  So long as you have plenty of sunshine and access to water, the soil is no problem! 

We promise “a great garden in any soil, and in almost any climate.”  And we mean it!  If you will follow the illustrations and instructions in the Mittleider gardening books that are available at www.growfood.com you will not even need to amend your soil with organic materials, and you can grow just fine in hard clay soil.

What you’ll be doing is making slightly raised, ridged, level soil-beds, and growing inside those.  The only thing approaching soil amendments I do is plant small seeds by mixing 1 part seed with 100 parts sand, then cover the seed with sand, rather than clay soil. 

Then, after the plants are up, and the clay soil begins to crack as it loses soil moisture, I will apply 5 to 10 pounds of sand to those cracks before watering.  Doing this twice is usually enough to stop the damage to your plants’ roots from the cracking, and over time it improves the soil in the soil-bed as well.

If you feel the clay soil is just too hard to work with, and you’d rather not fight it, then build Grow-Boxes and grow your food above-ground.  Several Mittleider gardening books show you how, including Grow-Box Gardening, Gardening By The Foot, and Lets Grow Tomatoes.  And The Mittleider Gardening Course has a section  that is devoted to Grow-Box gardening.

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://www.hightechhomestead.com/Products.htm for the best gardening books available anywhere!  Get one NOW and be gardening TODAY!!