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 www.foodforeveryone.org 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!

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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 https://www.foodforeveryone.org 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 https://www.foodforeveryone.org

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.

Containers – Depth, Width, Materials & Drainage

Q. I’m building a large Grow-Box 3′ high 3′ wide 15′ long. We receive 10-12″ of rain per year; we have mostly clay soil. 1) I’d like to promote better drainage and have a 3″ soil augur. Is it better to fill my holes with a gypsum and soil conditioner mix or a gravel and gypsum? 2) I’m hoping to get some County compost to mix with sawdust, sand, gypsum and clay to fill the mankiller in disguise.

A.   A real drainage problem is almost unheard of when using containers, and especially in the dry country you describe.  If you must dig, fill auger holes with course gravel. More likely, you would want to preserve every drop of water for the plants, rather than expediting the drainage. For example, even without raised containers, by making level, raised, ridged beds right in the soil, and having the planting area an inch or so above the aisles, you will normally solve any drainage problem in the low rainfall area in which you live.

Why is your Grow-Box 3 feet deep? If bending over is a problem, I recommend 18″ or at most 2’.  If you like working in a Grow-Box rather than the soil, and low bending isn’t a problem, consider building it 8″ deep.  And for any depth box, fill with peat moss, sawdust, perlite, and sand, in equal amounts by volume.  Any combination is fine, so long as the sand is 25-35% maximum. 

Also, build it 4′ wide, rather than 3′, if you have the space. This size will give you 4 rows of most vegetables, while still allowing plants the light they need, while a 3′-wide box only gives you 2 rows.  Excellent detailed instructions for building Grow-Boxes are in most of the Mittleider gardening books, available at www.growfood.com.

You speak of gypsum as if it was a major ingredient in your soil mix.  In a Grow-Box 8″ deep X 4′ wide X 15′ long, apply just 2# of gypsum evenly over the surface of the soil under the Box before you fill with the planting mix. Then, after filling with the planting mix, apply another 2# evenly over the surface and work it into the soil mix.   After each crop apply 2# to the soil mix and work it in.

Perhaps you only meant to use the gypsum in the holes you propose drilling into the clay soil beneath the Grow-Box.  If that’s the case, I would use sand and gravel in the holes.

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!!

My carrots taste bitter, what’s wrong?

Q.  My carrots taste bitter, what’s wrong?   I am watering for 20 to 30 minutes using a drip system 3 times per week.  I use the Mittleider organic method of growing.

A. Your problem is a lack of water.  You need to water daily until you see water coming out the bottom of the box.  I’ve never seen a soaker hose that would adequately water a sawdust/sand grow-box in 1/2 hour.  And it will dry out too much if you only water every other day. 

I recommend you automate your watering using the PVC pipe system taught and demonstrated in the Mittleider gardening books.  This system is inexpensive to build, it waters very accurately, and will last practically forever, if you take care of it. 

The books are available at www.growfood.com, and you can even download the chapter of the Mittleider Gardening Library free, by going to the Store section and clicking on that book.

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!!