Bio-intensive Gardening

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

biointensiveBio-intensive Gardening

by John Jeavons from John Jeavons and Grow Bio-intensive, he is the author of the best-selling handbook How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops.

Prepare the soil 24″ deep (double digging – see videos) so plants have ample nutriment resources. By this you reduce the area, water, work in planting the same crop on 1/4 of the area. And add apply good amounts of compost.
Plant so dense that the plants touch; in this way the food plants constitute a ground-cover/mulch – they reduce weeding and irrigation. Plant including companion planting techniques.
Plant 60% of the area with compost/calorie crops (cereals, sorgum, corn, rye, etc.); and plant 30% with vegetable crops (potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, leek, etc).


Mittleider Method

by Jim Kennard from the Food for Everyone Foundation

This method is based on fundamental principles like maximization of space, time and resources. Plants are spaced closer together than traditionally; and everything that can be grown vertically is grown in that way. Plants are fed natural mineral nutrients.
It is sometimes called « The Poor Man’s Hydroponic Way of Growing« : conventional hydroponics have yields of 330t/acre with an investment of $1,000,000.00/acre for building and equipment; tractor growers produce 35t/acre and backyard growers 15t/acre. The Mittleider technique helps you to produce 100t/acre; that is almost 10x of conventional backyard growing.

Unsatisfying soil conditions are overcome with a sans/sawdust mix with additional nutrients/fertilizers.
Selective pruning dramatically increases the yields; as well as using seedlings/greenhouses.

The Mittleider Gardening Course has all pertinent information on every garden plant in Appendix C. The course is designed in 6 steps:

  1. Sunlight: direct sunlight all day long; avoid shade from trees and other plants (small plants south to big plants north); don’t allow plants to shade themselves
  2. Temperature: plants never have too much light but too much temperature; the ideal temperature for seed germination is 21-29degC (70-85degF); for seedling production 15-29 degC mittleider1(60-85 degF); outdoor plants 15-32 degC (60-90 degF). You can control the temperature with mini-greenhouses (mini A-frames made with 5′ length of pvc pipe heat bend (legs-8″, sides-19″,top-6″) mittleider2covered with 6mil polyethylene or shade cloth in extreme heat. In cold climates it is better to install a « In-the-Garden-Greenhouse » to be able to start early and finish the season late (november or december); it also protects from sudden frosts or hail and too much rain for tomatoes.
    A Geothermal greenhouse can be used all year round. It is 18’x36′ large; it features 6x 110′ 4″ solid drain pipes buried 6 to 8ft under ground and a blower circulates air at a constant 12 degC (55 degF) – warming in winter and cooling in summer.
  3. mittleider3Air: plants take in air from the roots, so badly drained soil does cut off air supply completely; that is why plants need proper drainage and loose soil (or growbags or strawbales). In far from ideal conditions you install beds with a planting area 1″ to 2″ higher than the aisles, build a ridge on all sides – so you protect the plants from standing water. The water from torrential rains is drained by opening the ends.
  4. mittleider4Water: plants need a constantly moist environment – not soggy! Use irrigation water only for the roots in the early morning; don’t spray the leafs. The leveled-ridged-raised bed technique in point 4 has also the advantage that the irrigation water infiltrates close the roots of the crop and does not flow away to the weeds or the walkway.
  5. Nutrition: what do plants need, where and how do they get it? There are 16 elements essential to plant growth; 3 of them are carbon (CO2), oxygen and hydrogen from the atmosphere and the rest comes through the soil; to be absorbed these nutrients need to be water soluble.
    Major nutrients are: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium (NPK); secondary nutrients are: Calcium, Sulfur and Magnesium; and finally the micro-nutrients are: Zinc, Boron, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Chloride and Molybdenum.
    Nutrient deficiencies show in blossom-end rot on tomatoes, curled ends on cucumbers, yellow leafs, etc. – plants don’t grow to their full potential, with reduced crop in quality and quantity.
    Organic growers apply compost/manure 90-120 days before harvest – with the danger to burning new seedlings or temporary over-supplying nutrients. Mittleider growers apply lime or gypsum to feed crop and adjust soil pH before planting; and then apply very small amounts of all other mineral nutrients weekly. The Mittleider fertilizer salt is 7 oz of salt for a 30′ bed several times a season (2-12 times depending on the type of plant). The mix is called Mittleider Magic.
    Here are the recepies:
    Pre-Plant-Mix
    mix together in a clean wheelbarrow or large container:

    • 10 pounds of agricultural (dolomite) lime (if you have more than 20″ annual rainfall) or gypsum (less than 20″)
    • 2 ounces boron (f.e.: Borax)
    • 8 ounces magnesium sulfate (f.e.: Epsom Salt)

    Apply Pre-Plant Mix at the rate of 1 ounce per running foot before planting. The above mixture will effectively treat 150 running feet of raised garden bed (or five Soil Beds measuring 18 inches by 30 feet each). For best results apply the Pre-Plant Mix and Weekly Feed Mix (see below) in a 2:1 ratio before planting. Thoroughly mix into the soil.
    The Weekly Feed Mix
    recipe for 26 pounds of Weekly Feed Mix; Mix together thoroughly in a clean wheelbarrow:

    • Calcium Nitrate—CaNO3 10 pounds
    • Ammonium Nitrate—AmNO3 (34-0-0) 3 pounds 8 ounces
    • Phosphorus—P (0-45-0) 3 pounds 12 ounces
    • Magnesium Sulfate—MgSO4 (Epsom Salt) 2 pounds 12 ounces
    • Potassium—K (0-0-60) 4 pounds 12 ounces
    • Boron—B (Borax) 3 ounces
    • Manganese—MnSO4 2 ounces
    • Zinc—ZnSO4 3 ounces
    • Iron(Fe) Chelate #330 ½ ounce
    • Copper Sulfate—CuSO4 ¼ ounce
    • Molybdenum—Mo ¼ ounce
    • Gypsum—CaSO4 1 pound

    Feed your plants weekly from the time they become visible by applying 16 ounces of Weekly Feed Mix down the middle of a 18 inch by 30 foot Soil Bed – or ½ ounce per running foot of raised garden bed, and continue until 3 weeks before harvest.

  6. Protection from the Competition: weeds, insects, diseases and foraging animals.

 Secret Garden of Survival

by Rick Austin from Secret Garden of Survivalsecretgardenofsurvival1

Indegenous peoples lived for thousands of years without planting, weeding, fertilizing or watering… out of this thought he developed his forest garden concept that he published in his book « Secret Garden of Survival »
Ducks are predators for garden pests. Nigerian goats are small and produce a lot of milk. All the food for the animals and the family is produced by the perennial food forest.secretgardenofsurvival2
Plant in concentric circles: from the center outward there are vines, trees, shrubs, herbs and ground covers. And all is planted super dense, so the plants help each other to grow and you don’t recognize it as a garden.