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Intensive Urban Farming Productivity Breakthrough: The Mittleider Method


I was surprised to find this information in a rebuttal to John “Grow Your Greens” on YouTube and his discussion of why he doesn’t pursue the Mittleider Method of growing his garden.

In the past I’ve been oriented toward organic/permaculture gardening because of concerns over my family’s health. But I think that there are a few things here that are important to review:

1) What is your PRIMARY goal? For me it is healthy produce for my family. For others it could be soil building, landscaping, or appearance of the garden, etc.

With that goal in mind – productivity and health – you have to see what your limiting factors are. For me: Space, Sunlight, Time with an urban garden.

I think it does make sense to use the Mittleider method to help me maximize the use of the above resources…. more plants in the same space (which conserves space and sunlight) is only possible with a high nutrient density soil. Even with biodynamic growing they bend over backward (double digging and large amounts of compost) to add nutrients to the soil to support the plant density.

2) In addition, you want to “do no harm” to your soil.

Seems like Mittleider adds a precise amount of nutrients (not just the shake out of the box like I’ve done with fertilizers before, and hope it’s enough) so you feed the plants adequately without over-fertilizing. It’s over-fertilizing which can be deliterious to the soil.

In addition, the Mittleider method seems to recommend not even using soil, but more like a hydroponic “soilless” mixture, so you’re not really laboring under the moral necessity of improving the soil, as you’re not depleting the soil (even if you do choose to grow in it), because you’re feeding the plants exactly what they need.

3) You do not want to “harm” yourself.

My son is recovering from autism, in part because we’ve been very strict with his diet. We’ve learned more than we wanted to about health, and learned that he (as well as other family members) are struggling with elevated levels of heavy metals and parasites. It seems like the use of organic matter (such as horse manure, or soil mixes with human waste/sludge compost could be possible vectors for contamination of parasites and heavy metals. And also I guess the rock dust mentioned could also introduce these problems.

If you read through the Organic Certification standards, they are very strict and specific about the heating requirements for any compost used on the garden. In addition, they specifically allow the “synthetic” fertilizers used in Mittleider if your garden soil is deficient in these (which it is if you garden in the suggested sand and sawdust!)

I think if you have the TIME and ENERGY to invest in the Mittleider method, it is a good way to maximize space in a controlled environment.

I think other methods have merit, especially for the lazy gardener. But it doesn’t sound like MIttleider is deleterious to the soil, and if you are avoiding the use of commercial “chemical” fertilizers, ask yourself why… it sounds like they are a mined mineral just like everything else (rock dust, lime, etc.) with some level of processing…

Here is a link to the Mittleider Method website, where you can get more information about maximizing your yields in gardening.

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