Philippines Humanitarian Project – Update 2019 (And Beyond)

In 2017 I was asked to conduct a gardening training project near the town of Carigara on the very poor island of Leyte in the Philippines, for a group who are doing a lot of good over there called the Rise and Rebuild International Foundation.  It was supposed to happen in the fall of 2017, but by the time they got me there it was January, 2018.

They had purchased 15 acres of land with a river right alongside, on which we were to create this project.  By the time I arrived they had two 20 X 40 greenhouses mostly constructed (I had to change and fix some things), as well as a brick storage building complete and a large brick classroom/kitchen/bathroom facility mostly ready. 

They did NOT have electricity or running water the whole time I was there, and we had to use a loud diesel generator every day as we taught classes, in order to project the training materials and have a microphone.  Great fun!

We had 25 adults as students (7 women and 18 men), and there were 15 men hired to do the construction work, clear the jungle, remove boulders, and level the garden area. The construction crew cleared several acres of jungle while we began classes, started seedlings, mixed fertilizers (some of which we had to bring in by boat), and created a garden.

Scorpions, venomous spiders, and cobras were fairly common, and several times a week torrential rains stopped the garden work, but in every possible minute the work went on apace.

One sweet married man with children, whom I called Jean ValJean, and the other construction workers called Hercules, died of over-exertion when his heart failed, I believe from manually moving giant boulders.  That was super sad!  These men were being paid $6 per day, and were happy to have the work.  The students were paid $3 per day, but were hoping for a job running the garden after the training – for $6 per day.

Language was a real problem.  The native language is Tagalog.  I was told the students would be fairly fluent in English, but only 8 of them could read English, and some had very limited speaking vocabulary as well, so classroom teaching and testing had to go through the 8, in a tedious process every day.

In the garden it was better because they were good visual learners, plus the 8 English speakers translated to small groups as we went along.

Almost all of them were hard workers (about 4 did not take the training very seriously), and there were 4 leaders with good English skills who were intelligent, really diligent, and had good attitudes (were teachable).

We managed to keep the two 20′ X 40′ greenhouses, which were built to The Mittleider Gardening Course book specificatons busy, and we created and planted a garden of 250 – 30’-long soil beds while I was there.  Within 4 weeks of the first planting harvesting had begun, and by the time I returned home at the end of March harvesting and re-planting were going on every day.

By the time we had 200 beds, watering had become a major problem, taking half of the students much of the day just to water on the days it did not rain, until I convinced the Foundation leaders to build an elevated 6,000 gallon concrete storage tank.  With 2” pipes running throughout the garden, and faucets at the head of every few beds, the watering time became MUCH quicker, and was manageable.   Soon after that step was completed they ran pipes to the head of every bed.  Thank goodness for level beds!

And it seems that they only picked up the pace after I left!  Classes continued for 2 or 3 weeks, but then everyone focused full time on the garden/farm.

Difficult?  Probably the most challenging thing I have ever done.  Successful and worthwhile?  History will be the judge, but that history is being written rather quickly, and so far it looks very promising!

They built a refrigerated building to store, sort, clean, and pack vegetables, and continued to expand the garden, which by now they were calling a farm.  And by the end of August/early September they had expanded the one-acre garden I had left into 15 acres, and 250 beds had become 3,750!

They purchased a couple of produce trucks, began delivering fresh vegetables to the schools on the island, and now provide the noon meal for 10,000 students every day!  And they sell the excess produce for sufficient to pay all of the project expenses, including the wages of what has now become 100 workers!  (After Covid-19 reached the islands schools were closed, businesses, churches, etc. were shut down, and one of the few things that was allowed to go forward was the Rise & Rebuild produce trucks.  At every blockade/check point our trucks were ushered through, and since 2019 R & R has been feeding many thousands of families from the 100+ acre farms on 4 main islands).

Ray Goodson, the President of the Rise and Rebuild foundation told me by telephone just two weeks ago (January 2019) that the produce is known as “the biggest and best in all of the Philippines”, and that they are expanding onto 3 other islands already.  They expect to be feeding more than 20,000 school children their noon-day meal before this year is out, and they are only limited by trained workers and leadership.  (See above changes due to the pandemic).

I hope this story inspires you to see what can be done with the best gardening system on the planet, when it is used in the best way possible. 

Jim Kennard

Is Organic Really Better Than Conventional ?

Is organic really better for the environment than conventional (industrial) agriculture?

Our World in Data presents the empirical evidence on global development in entries dedicated to specific topics. 

This blog post draws on data and research discussed in our entries on Crop YieldsLand Use, and Fertilizers and Pesticides.

This post was first published on October 19th 2017, and was extended on December 19th 2017.

As the total global population continues to rise and economic growth drives a transition towards more resource-intensive diets, a growing number of consumers are concerned with how to reduce the environmental impact of their dietary choices. Consumers often see organic food as an effective way to reduce their impact: surveys reveal that regardless of geographic location, the primary motivations for organic food purchases are health and environmental concerns. Furthermore, consumers are often willing to pay more for organic products – some studies indicate a willingness-to-pay of up to 100 percent above standard prices. But is this a wise choice? Is going organic really the best way to reduce the environmental impact of our diets?

Before we explore the relative impacts of organic vs. conventional agriculture, it is worth clarifying their definitions. Organic agriculture refers to the farming of crops or livestock without the use of synthetic inputs, including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, plant growth regulators, nanomaterials and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Note that organic does not necessitate ‘chemical-free’ or ‘pesticide-free’; chemicals are often used in organic farming, however these cannot be synthetically manufactured, with the exception of a small number which have been approved by the National Organic Standards Board. Conventional (sometimes termed ‘industrial’) farming is therefore any agricultural system which uses one or more of the above synthetic inputs.

The methods applied for weed and pest control in conventional and organic systems can also impact on choices of planting and tillage techniques. Conventional farming often utilises synthetic herbicides for the control of weeds; this approach is typically more conducive to low- or no-till management techniques. Since herbicide applications cannot be widely adopted in organic farming (with some approved exceptions), options for no-till farming can be more limited and places greater emphasis on approaches such as mechanical controls and/or mulching.

In arable farming (which concerns the production of crops), nutrients can be added to the soil in the form of organic matter, such as green compost, animal manure (human sewage sludge is typically prohibited), or bone meal. For livestock, organic methods mean animals must be fed organically-certified feed (or graze on land with no synthetic chemical inputs), and antibiotics cannot be used throughout their lifetime (except in emergency cases such as disease or infection outbreak). In conventional livestock production, there are no constraints on feed certification and antibiotics or growth hormones are often used. Animal welfare standards for organic certification can vary by country, however for many, livestock must be raised with access to the outdoors (i.e. caged hens are not permitted). Conventional livestock farming covers a range of production methods: they can be produced in either ‘free range’ or ‘caged’ conditions. These are typically monitored and labelled as such on product packaging.

In this post, we present the empirical evidence comparing organic to conventional agriculture in terms of environmental impact. Despite strong public perception of organic agriculture producing better environmental outcomes, we show that conventional agriculture often performs better on environmental measures including land use, greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution of water bodies. There are, however, some contexts where organic agriculture may be considered appropriate.


Organic vs. conventional: what are the relative impacts?

When aiming to provide a comparison of the relative impacts of organic and conventional agriculture, it can often be misleading and misrepresentative to rely on the results of a single comparative study: there will always be single, localised examples where the environmental impacts of a conventional farm are lower than that of a proximate organic farm, and vice versa. In order to provide a global and cross-cutting overview of this comparison, Clark and Tilman (2017) published a meta-analysis of results of published organic-conventional comparisons across 742 agricultural systems over 90 unique foods.

Their analysis reviewed relative impacts across the range of food types – cereals, pulses and oilcrops, fruits, vegetables, dairy and eggs, and meat – and across a range of environmental impact categories – greenhouse gas emissions, land use, acidification potential, eutrophication potential, and energy use. ‘Eutrophication’ refers to the over-enrichment or pollution of surface waters with nutrients such as nitrogen & phosphorous. Although eutrophication can also occur naturally, the runoff of fertilizer and manure from agricultural land is a dominant source of nutrients. This disaggregation of food types and environmental impacts is important: there is no reason to suggest that the optimal agricultural system for cereal production is the same as for fruits; and there are often trade-offs in terms of environmental impact – one system can prove better in terms of greenhouse gas emissions but higher in land use, for example.

Food systems are made up of many phases – ranging from pre-farm activities, crop production, animal feed production, and harvesting, to transportation, distribution, and cooking. To fully and consistently account for the various stages of production, a process called life-cycle analysis (LCA) is used. LCAs attempt to quantify the combined impacts across several stages of production by considering all inputs and outputs in the complete process. The key in comparing LCAs between products is ensuring that the same number of stages of the supply chain are included in all analyses. For this meta-analysis, Clark & Tilman (2017) compared 164 LCAs which account for inputs pre-farm and on-farm (up until the food leaves the farm).

The aggregated results of Clark & Tilman’s study is shown in the chart below. This comparison measures the relative impact ratio of organic to conventional agriculture, whereby a value of 1.0 means the impact of both systems are the same; values greater than 1.0 mean the impacts of organic systems are higher (worse) (for example, a value of 2.0 would mean organic impacts were twice as high as conventional); and values less than 1.0 mean conventional systems are worse (a value of 0.5 means conventional impacts are twice as high). We see these relative impacts measured by food type across our range of environmental impacts with averages and standard error ranges shown.

We see large differences in impact patterns across environmental categories and food types. For some impacts, one system is consistently better than the alternative; whilst for others, results are mixed depending on crop type and the local agricultural context. The clearest results are for land and energy use. Organic systems consistently perform worse in terms of land use, regardless of food type. As we explore in detail in our entry on Yield and Land Use in Agriculture, the world has achieved large gains in productivity and gains in yield over the past half-century in particular, largely as a result of the availability and intensification of inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides. As a result, the majority of conventional systems achieve a significantly higher yield as compared to organic systems. Therefore, to produce the same quantity of food, organic systems require a larger land area.

This produces the inverse result for energy use. The industrial production of chemical inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides is an energy-intensive process. The absence of synthetic chemical inputs in organic systems therefore means that their energy use is predominantly lower than in intensive conventional agriculture. The exception to this result is vegetables, for which energy use in organic systems tends to be higher. Some of this additional energy use is explained by the use of alternative methods of weed and pest control in organic vegetable farming; a technique widely applied as an alternative to synthetic pesticide application is the use of ‘propane-fueled flame weeding’. The process of propane production and machinery used in its application can add energy costs – especially for vegetable crops.

Acidification and eutrophication potential are more mixed, but tend to be higher in organic systems; average values across all food types are higher for organic, although there are likely to be some exceptions in particular contexts. Why are organic systems typically worse in these measures? The supply of nutrients in conventional and organic systems are very different; nitrogen supply in conventional agriculture is supplied with the application of synthetic fertilizers, whereas organic farms source their nitrogen from manure application. The timing of nutrient release in these systems is different: fertilizers release nutrients in response to crop demands, meaning nitrogen is released when required by the crops, whereas nitrogen released from manure is more dependent on environmental conditions, such as weather conditions, soil moisture and temperature.

Nutrient-release from manure is therefore not always matched with crop requirements – excess nutrients which are released but not taken up by crops can run off farmland into waterways such as rivers and lakes. As a consequence, the pollution of ecosystems with nutrients from organic farms are often higher than conventional farms, leading to higher eutrophication and acidification potential.

Across all food types, there is no clear winner when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Results vary strongly depending on food type, although most lie close to a ratio of one (where differences in impact between the systems are relatively small). Based on average values, we might conclude that to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we should buy organic pulses and fruits, and conventional cereals, vegetables, and animal products. In general, the greenhouse gas emission sources of organic and conventional systems tend to cancel each other out. Conventional systems produce greenhouse gases through synthetic fertilizer production and application, which is largely balanced by the higher emissions of nitrous oxide (a strong greenhouse gas) from manure application.

Organic vs. conventional impacts final 01

Should we treat environmental impacts equally?

Organic agriculture proves better for some environmental impacts, and conventional agriculture for others. These trade-offs can make it difficult to decide which we should be choosing. But should we be considering all environmental impacts equally? Should some have higher importance than others?

To evaluate these trade-offs we have to consider a key question: how important is agriculture’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, land use, acidification and eutrophication potential, and energy use? Agriculture’s role in land use, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy use is summarised in the three charts below:

  • The first chart shows that agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) is the dominant land user, consuming half of the world’s habitable land;
  • The second chart shows that it accounts for approximately one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions;
  • The third chart shows that it accounts for only two percent of energy use;
  • The contribution of AFOLU to acidification and eutrophication is more difficult to quantify, however it is widely considered to be the dominant source of nutrient input to aquatic ecosystems.

We might therefore conclude that energy use – the only category in which organic agriculture has a clear advantage – is comparatively substantially less important than other impacts.

Global land use graphic

Greenhouse gas emissions by sector, World

Breakdown of total greenhouse gas emissions by sector, measured in tonnes of carbon-dioxide
equivalents (CO₂e). Carbon dioxide equivalents measures the total greenhouse gas potential of the full
combination of gases, weighted by their relative warming impacts.


1990199520002005201020160 t10 billion t20 billion t30 billion t40 billion tOther fuelcombustionWasteBuildingsIndustryFugitive emissionsLand-Use Changeand ForestryAgricultureManufacturing/constructionTransportElectricity & Heat


Source: UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)

Share of total energy used in agriculture and forestry, 1971 to 2009

The share of energy consumed within the agricultural and forestry sectors, measured as the percentage of
total energy consumption across all sectors.


1971197519801985199019952000200520090%20%40%60%80%100%World + (Total)Americas + (Total)United StatesUnited Kingdom


Source: UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)


Is more intensive agriculture always the answer?

If we are most concerned with areas of environmental change for which agriculture has the largest impact – namely land use, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions – for which conventional agriculture tends to be advantaged, is the answer to make global farming as intensive as possible? Not necessarily. There are several reasons why this view is too simplistic.

The impacts quantified here fail to capture another important ecological pressure: biodiversity. Conclusive comparisons of the relative impacts of agricultural systems on biodiversity are still lacking. Biodiversity is affected by a number of agricultural impacts, including pesticide application (which can be toxic to some species), soil erosion, and disruption from land tillage methods, and either habitat destruction or fragmentation. Intensive agriculture undoubtedly has severe impacts on local biodiversity. A recent study by Hallmann et al. (2017) reports a greater than 75 percent decline in insect populations over the last 27 years; although unclear as to the primary cause of this decline, it’s suggested that pesticide use may be a key contributing factor. Organic farming systems also impact biodiversity, but perhaps less dramatically per unit area, due to lower fertilizer and pesticide use. However, as our land-use metrics show: organic agriculture requires far more land than conventional agriculture. This creates a divide in opinion of how best to preserve biodiversity: should we farm intensively over a smaller area (with understanding that biodiversity will be severely affected over this area), or should we farm organically, impacting biodiversity (perhaps less severely) over a much larger area. There is no clear consensus on how best to approach this issue.

Another point to consider is that conventional agriculture is not necessarily better across all food types. Context, both in terms of the food commodity and the local environment, can be important. For example, if greenhouse gas reduction is our main focus, we might be best off eating organic pulses and fruits, and conventional cereals, vegetables, and animal products, based on the results presented above.

This leads us to three key conclusions in the organic-conventional farming debate:

  • The common perception that organic food is by default better, or is an ideal way to reduce environmental impact is a clear misconception. Across several metrics, organic agriculture actually proves to be more harmful for the world’s environment than conventional agriculture.
  • The debate between organic and intensive agriculture advocates is often needlessly polarized. There are scenarios where one system proves better than the other, and vice versa. If I were to advise on where and when to choose one or the other, I’d advise trying to choose organic pulses and fruits, but sticking with non-organic for all other food products (cereals, vegetables, dairy and eggs, and meat).
  • The organic-conventional debate often detracts from other aspects of dietary choices which have greater impact. If looking to reduce the environmental impact of your diet, what you eat can be much more influential than how it is produced. The relative difference in land use and greenhouse gas impacts between organic and conventional systems is typically less than a multiple of two. Compare this to the relative differences in impacts between food types where, as shown in the charts below, the difference in land use and greenhouse gas emissions per unit protein between high-impact meats and low-impact crop types can be more than 100-fold. If your primary concern is whether the potato accompanying your steak is conventionally or organically produced, then your focus is arguably misplaced from the decisions which could have the greatest impact.

Land use per 100 grams of protein

Land use is measured in meters squared (m²) per 100 grams of protein across various food products.


0 m²20 m²40 m²60 m²80 m²100 m²120 m²140 m²160 m²180 m²Lamb & Mutton184.8 m²Beef (beef herd)163.6 m²Cheese39.8 m²Milk27.1 m²Beef (dairy herd)21.9 m²Pig Meat10.7 m²Nuts7.9 m²Other Pulses7.3 m²Poultry Meat7.1 m²Eggs5.7 m²Grains4.6 m²Fish (farmed)3.7 m²Groundnuts3.5 m²Peas3.4 m²Tofu (soybeans)2.2 m²Prawns (farmed)2 m²


Source: Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Additional calculations by Our World in Data.

Note: Data represents the global average land use of food products based on a large meta-analysis of food production covering 38,700
commercially viable farms in 119 countries.

Greenhouse gas emissions per 100 grams of protein

Greenhouse gas emissions are measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (kgCO₂eq) per 100
grams of protein. This means non-CO₂ greenhouse gases are included and weighted by their relative
warming impact.


0 kg10 kg20 kg30 kg40 kgBeef (beef herd)49.89 kgLamb & Mutton19.85 kgPrawns (farmed)18.19 kgBeef (dairy herd)16.87 kgCheese10.82 kgMilk9.5 kgPig Meat7.61 kgFish (farmed)5.98 kgPoultry Meat5.7 kgEggs4.21 kgGrains2.7 kgTofu (soybeans)1.98 kgGroundnuts1.23 kgOther Pulses0.84 kgPeas0.44 kgNuts0.26 kg


Source: Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Additional calculations by Our World in Data.

Note: Data represents the global average greenhouse gas emissions of food products based on a large meta-analysis of food
production covering 38,700 commercially viable farms in 119 countries.


Feed Your Family On 1/50th of an Acre

Instructions for Growing Your Sustainable Family Garden Heirloom Seed Pack

 By Following The Recipe Below, You’ll Eat Healthier, Save Money, And Maybe Even Save Your Life!


Our bodies were designed to be herbivores, and as you eat primarily a whole food, plant-based diet you will be healthier, need less volume of food, avoid many chronic health problems, and live a longer, happier life!

Follow the Sample Garden Plan included on a following page and you can eat fresh, healthy and tasty vegetables from your own garden – even one as small as 1/50th of an acre.

By planting a spring garden, a summer garden, and a fall garden (using the same beds over again) you can harvest as much as 1,600# of 24 different vegetables. That’s 4 1/3# per day of fresh home-grown food!!

You have made a very wise choice by starting with fresh seeds with a high germination rate. Good seeds are very inexpensive but SO important! You have a multi-year storage pouch containing almost 23,000 of the best Heirloom Seeds you can buy. We’re calling it the Sustainable Family Garden Heirloom Seed Pouch.

The Sample Garden Plan shows that your spring garden has only 7 plant varieties, with only 101 seeds that need to be grown beforehand and transplanted into the garden. Of the 1,104 seeds to plant 1,003 can be planted directly into the garden!  Follow the attached Garden Planting Details Schedule for pretty much everything you need to know about when, where, and how to plant everything in your garden.

Growing your own seedlings is simple and straight forward. If you don’t know how to do this, consider getting the complete Mittleider Gardening Course book (, and just follow the instructions in Lesson 22. We’re only talking about 7 plant varieties, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, kale, and the two lettuce, and most of them grow at about the same rate, so they can all be grown in a single 10″ X 20″ or 18″ X 18″ seedling flat, Place the celery on an outside row, as it is slower growing.

And for the plants you’ll put directly into the garden maximize yield and minimize thinning by mixing1part seeds with 100 parts sand.  Then give your plants protection in cold weather with PVC “mini a-frames” covered with 6 mil plastic, and a little heat on cold nights.  Lesson 23 of the Mittleider gardening course book includes detailed instructions for this as well.  J

For your summer garden 151 seeds go directly into the garden, and only 52 seeds, including broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes are best transplanted as seedlings into the garden.

Again, one seedling flat is ample. Just start your tomatoes and peppers about 8 weeks before you expect to put them in the garden, and the others – broccoli, cabbage and cucumbers – start 3-4 weeks before they go into the garden.

For the fall garden carrots and potatoes are planted directly in the garden. That’s 368 seeds, and 168 seeds of 5 others we recommend transplanting.  Broccoli, cabbage and lettuce are best transplanted, and onions and turnips benefit from an early start in the seedling flat to allow them time to mature in the garden

Prune your plant leaves at least weekly, and EAT the edible leaves daily (listed as R/T)!  Eating the outer leaves and celery stalks regularly keeps your plants producing for MANY MONTHS, increases your harvest substantially, and keeps them from going to seed.  Notice that Kale, chard, and celery only need one planting for the entire growing season!

You are now on your way to getting more than 3/4 of a TON of vegetables, pretty much every variety you need and want, in order  to sustain a healthy eating lifestyle.

Prepare Now For Next Spring’s Garden

Winter’s the time to get ready to grow your own seedlings!  It’s not really difficult, and can extend your growing season by many weeks.  For example, by planting cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower in February in your basement under grow-lights, you can put large, sturdy transplants into your garden by the end of March or early April, and be eating them when others are just seeing them come up!  

Remember that photosynthesis, using light, heat and moisture causes plant growth.  Therefore you must follow a few key natural principles very carefully, or you will be disappointed.

First, seeds must have moisture to germinate and grow.  And the soil mix must be moist, but not soggy, or you’ll drown the new plant, since it must also have oxygen!

Second, while heat is essential, temperatures must be maintained in a narrow range for ideal germination to occur.  Most vegetable seeds germinate quickly between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  After plants are up, many of them will grow in cooler temperatures, but most all will become dormant (stop growing) at temperatures below 50 degrees.

Third, light is not necessary for seed germination, but as soon as your seedlings begin to emerge from the soil, maximum light is required immediately for proper development. Therefore, to grow in your house, make sure your plants have a strong (but not hot!) light source directly on the plants, for up to 16 hours per day.  Note the pictures of two grow-light shelves in the Gallery Section.  The metal one is 6-shelf Commercial Chrome Shelving, from Sam’s Club costing only $70, and will hold 20 flats of plants.  Suspend shop lights with 2 cool and 2 warm 40-watt tubes 4 to 6″ above the plants.

The fourth principle relates to feeding.  A balanced nutrient mix of 13 minerals is essential to plants immediately after germination.  Those nutrients are mineral salts and must be very dilute in the soil moisture, otherwise osmosis will cause the salt to draw the life-giving moisture out of the plants, and they will die.  To ensure you never burn your plants, water seedlings daily using the “Constant Feed Solution” of one scant ounce (2 almost level tablespoons) of Weekly Feed dissolved in 3 gallons of water.  To make the Weekly Feed Mix simply add one small packet of the Micro-Mix, which is available on the Foundation’s website listed below, with 4# of Epsom Salt and 25# of 16-16-16.

Next, it is important to separate your small plants before their leaves begin to overlap with others’, or the tiny stems will become very weak and spindly as the plants all stretch – looking for more light.  By the time the plants have their first or second true leaf this step should be completed.  Failure to act for even a few hours can result in spindly, weak plants, which sometimes never recover.  Transplanting seedlings into 2″ 6-paks or pots will provide adequate space for them to grow an additional 2-3 weeks, depending on variety.  If it’s still too early to put them out into the garden by the time plant leaves are again beginning to overlap, prune the leaves, transplant again into larger pots, or separate pots, so the plant leaves always have maximum light.

Before transplanting into the garden, “harden-off” your plants outside, off the ground for 2 to3 days, to acclimate them to direct sunlight, temperature, wind, etc.  This is important so the plant doesn’t have the shock of a new environment added to the shock to its root system caused by transplanting.  If the weather turns cold at night, bring the plants back in the house.  The temperature adjustment needs to be gradual.

For many of your plants, the pruning process does double duty.  In addition to assuring maximum light, it shocks the plant mildly, causing it to pause in its growth and produce a thicker, sturdier stem. This process makes the plant much better able to endure the vicissitudes of the outside environment, such as cutworms, ants, etc. that often quickly decimate plants with weak, spindly stems.

For tall-growing plants, like tomatoes, be sure to provide small stakes tied to the plant stem, to prevent them from falling over.  And with tomatoes, begin immediately to remove all sucker stems as soon as possible, to assure a single, strong stem and maximum production from your plant.

Great growing instructions can be found in the book Let’s Grow Tomatoes, available as a digital download and as a part of the Mittleider Gardening Library CD.  It’s  available at

Prepared – Got Your Wheat, Beans & Rice? So What Are You Going To Eat?!

As we try and stay warm during this cominf cold winter season probably very few of us are thinking of gardens or growing our own food – but maybe we should be!  When God cursed the ground it was for our sake, so when He said we were to eat our bread by the sweat of our brow perhaps He was pronouncing a blessing on us.  At the very least it was instruction on how we were to live, but today too many of us , if we exercise at all, pay to “work out” in the gym instead of working out in the garden. 

It is time to change that!

Great and wise men have said every family should have a garden, and that we should “Grow all the food that you possibly can on your own property…grow vegetables and eat those grown in your own yard.  Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters.”    Spencer W. Kimball

Evidence all around us points to the wisdom of those words.  Today much of what we eat comes from places we know not and contains things that sometimes harm us.  And a diet of fresh vegetables and fruits would eliminate many of the chronic health problems plaguing our society

I suggest now is a good time to begin preparing for your own garden next spring.   Why?  Because it makes sense to follow wise counsel at any time, but also because like someone recently said, when times get tough you’re not going to want to live just on rice and beans and wheat.

In talking with a motivated Mittleider gardener I asked how he became interested in gardening as an important component of his family’s preparedness regimen, and his answer was both humorous and instructive:

“Years ago my wife and I were going over our Preparedness list, basically taking an inventory of where we were in the process, and I asked her “what are we going to eat”, to which she replied “well, we’ve got wheat, beans, and rice . . . “.  I thought about that for a few seconds and then said “so what are we going to eat”?  She repeated “we’ve got wheat, beans, and rice”, and I responded again “so, what are we going to eat!”

“As we talked about this we decided that we really needed to have an on-going, fresh and sustainable source of nutritious food if we hoped to maintain any degree of long-term health and activity, and so we determined that we had to get serious about growing a garden.”

And here’s “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say.  His wife became a Certified Master Gardener, and for 30 years she worked diligently at trying to grow food for their family.  However, until recently their success was very limited, even though they tried every method they could find.   Their amazing success sfter finding the Mittleider Method of gardening is truly inspiring, and it is documented in some excellent short instructional videos at  I recommend you go there and see for yourself what they’ve done (and what you can do) in the back yard of a small lot in a gated community, with homeowners’ association rules dictating what your yard can look like.

So, what CAN we do in the winter in order to be prepared when it comes time to plant our gardens?  Let me describe several important things you can begin doing immediately:

Certainly, planning next spring’s garden is important.  And the Garden Planting Details Schedule lists most all of the common garden vegetables and then gives you valuable information in 14 categories including when to plant, where to plant, how far apart to plant, whether to plant seeds or seedlings, how long you can harvest, how much yield to expect, and 8 other important categories of information to guide your decisions.  This is available free in the Files section of the gardening groups listed below, as well as in appendix B of The Mittleider Gardening Course book.

Other important areas of planning you should be covering this winter include ways to lengthen your harvest time, and this can be accomplished by growing your own seedlings, and by protecting your plants in the garden. 

Seedling production is surprisingly simple, but requires following closely the basic laws of plant growth.  Soil temperatures must be in the 70-85 degree range for optimum germination and growth; maximum light must be applied immediately upon emergence; soil must be damp but not soaking wet; and plants must be fed a balanced nutrient mix on a regular schedule – preferably with every watering.

Protecting your plants from the cold (and heat in mid-summer) can be done simply with hoops and clear greenhouse plastic immediately over the plants (low tunnel), or using something larger, again with hoops and plastic sometimes called high tunnels.  A third way, costing more but allowing you to grow crops vertically and increasing yields by 4-6 times in a given space, is what I call the in-the-garden greenhouse.  These are built using a set of T-Frames tied together by 2 X 4’s and again covered by clear greenhouse plastic, and they can be used to grow seedlings in late winter/early spring and then to grow ever-bearing crops clear into the next winter.  Gardeners in southern-tier states even use them to grow successfully year-round.

A family of 4 can live out of a garden of less than 1/20th of an acre!  So start planning and preparing now, and expect to have your highly productive sustainable garden in place and growing by the time your neighbors begin even thinking about their gardens.

Short videos demonstrating many steps in the gardening process are available free at. Start there, and if you feel you want to join one of the Food For Everyone Foundation’s free gardening groups to learn more and share with others, simply go to either or

So, what are YOU going to eat when the stores are all closed?  If you’re serious I will give you some very exciting and important details next time.

Why Tomato Blossoms Fail to Pollinate and Produce Fruit

The following is adapted and condensed from the book Let’s Grow Tomatoes, by Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider.

In addition to the 13 essential mineral nutrients man can provide, plants require water, exercise, anchorage, sunlight, warmth, living space, and protection from extremes in weather, disease, and insects. This would indicate that there are many possible causes for your garden to fail at producing a crop, and this is true. However, there are a few common problems which deserve special attention.

Nematodes – Soils everywhere are infested with these tiny eel-like worms that eat into the roots of plants and live off the plant juices. Infected roots have irregular brown-colored swellings which appear like rough knots. Infestation can be serious without affecting plant color or other visual appearance. Failure to set fruit is usually the first indication the grower has of the problem. Producing fruit places a heavy load on the plant, and if nematodes are present the plant will abort the fruit in order to stay alive. Because the plant cannot expel the nematodes it continues the same process, with new stems, leaves, and flowers, and being unable to support the burden of producing fruit, it aborts the new fruit at or near conception.

Lack of complete and balanced fertilizer – A proper balance of all 13 nutrients is essential for optimum performance, and a deficiency in even one nutrient can result in crop failure. See the 3 volume set of The Garden Doctor books by Jacob R. Mittleider for details on deficiency symptoms and solutions.

Insects and soil maggots – Tomato fruit worms eat the new fruit as it is formed, and thrips eat the pollen and prevent pollination. Soil maggots eat the stem below the soil surface and weaken the plant similar to nematodes. A regular dust or spray program is necessary to control the first two, and a Diazanon drench will eliminate the soil maggots.

Weather Problems and air movement – Temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit will cause tomatoes to stop setting fruit, and below 50 degrees there is almost no plant growth, so protecting against those extremes is very important.

Heat can be reduced by using shade cloth, and plastic coverings can increase temperatures – at least during the day. However, care must be taken to avoid losing essential sunlight, since that is the number one law of plant growth. Fruiting crops will not produce without direct sunlight for 6-8 hours each day. 25-35% shade cloth that shades the plants during the hottest part of the day is recommended where daytime temperatures are consistently above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some growers believe that greenhouse-grown tomatoes may fail to pollinate if there is no air movement. They try to resolve this by vibrating the vines occasionally. Dr. Mittleider has never experienced difficulty from this source, and our experience has been that pruning, guiding plants up the baling twine strings, and removing sucker stems provide adequate movement for self-pollination to occur (the flowers are self-pollinated because tomato flowers are “perfect”, including both male and female parts).

Diseases – If your tomato plants are suffering the effects of disease the symptoms are usually very evident, and are not limited to pollination or fruit set to know that something is wrong. Rotation is sometimes recommended to minimize problems, however the family garden is rarely large enough to allow the separation needed to be very effective. Fungus diseases can often be controlled by a good and timely spray or dusting program. The chapter on Diseases in Let’s Grow Tomatoes is recommended for a more in-depth discussion of this subject.

Let’s Grow Tomatoes is available as a digital download at Food For Everyone Foundation –

Organic Or Chemical – Or Both? What Kind of Vegetable Garden Should You Grow

Today we will discuss a fundamental question in gardening. Previously I was posed this question: “I hear that chemicals are poisoning our waterways, and that organic growing is much healthier than using chemicals. What’s the truth, and how do I grow a healthy, productive, and sustainable garden without hurting the environment?”

This important question deserves an accurate answer. Therefore let’s learn about plant nutrition. First, plants receive nutrition only as water-soluble mineral compounds through their roots. When we put plants, compost or manure into the soil, the organic material must first decompose, and the nutrient compounds must revert to water-soluble minerals before the next generation of plants can use them. This takes time, and sometimes as much as half of the nutrients are lost in the decomposition process. Nitrogen is particularly susceptible to loss because it is volatile and returns to the air very easily.

Second, there is no real difference between organic, and mineral or chemical nutrients. Everything in this world is chemical! To the chemist the elements in the soil are called chemicals, to a geologist they are called minerals, and to an organic enthusiast they are called organics, but they are the same substances. To quote J. I. Rodale, the publisher of Organic Gardening magazine, “we organic gardeners have let our enthusiasm run away with us. We have said that the nitrogen which is in organic matter is different (and thus somehow better) from nitrogen in a commercial fertilizer. But this is not so.” And “actually there is no difference between the nitrogen in a chemical fertilizer and the nitrogen in a leaf.”

Third, there is no difference between soil and rocks except for the size of the particles, and 12 of the 13 mineral nutrients plants require are essentially ground-up rocks! They are natural, and there’s really nothing “synthetic” about them.

So you see, there is no difference between “organic nitrogen” and mineral or chemical nitrogen, except two primary things. 1) the nitrogen that is part of an organic substance must decompose and revert to the water-soluble mineral state before being available to plants, and 2) mineral-source nitrogen is much higher in nutritional content, so much less is required to feed your plants.

As further evidence that mineral nutrients are not bad per se, I’ve researched which fertilizers meet the requirements for qualification as a Certified Organic garden, and 12 of the 13 nutrients we use in a Mittleider garden are approved. And the 13th – nitrogen – is the one that’s most often used by organic gardeners, both in the garden and to aid in composting! Go figure.

This being the case, what should you do to assure you have the best garden and the healthiest plants possible? Give your plants accurate dosages of the best combination of nutrition you possibly can. The Mittleider natural mineral nutrient formulas are available in The Mittleider Gardening Course book at You can mix your own “from scratch”, or get the micro-nutrients from the Foundation website, also in the Shop section. And never over-use any kind of fertilizer. Both manure and mineral compounds will harm our water supply if allowed to leach into the water table.

Meanwhile, remember that 99% of us depend on 1% to feed us, and commercial growers feed their crops! They use formulas like ours and call them “The preferred horticultural mix.” Just check out Scott’s Peter’s Professional Pete Lite as an example.

This is not to say that organic materials don’t have a place in the garden. You can improve soil texture and tilth by adding materials that have desirable characteristics, and even add some nutrient value. However, improving the soil in that way is not necessary to having a good garden, and people often introduce weeds, rodents, bugs, and diseases into their gardens, or provide a haven for them with their organic mulching practices. It is for this reason that we do not emphasize or encourage composting and manure.

Mittleider gardens qualify as “organic” because we don’t use pesticides or herbicides. However, I suggest they are even better than organic, because the plants receive just what they need, they grow fast, and we rarely have debilitating insect or disease problems because there are no weeds to provide a home, and the plants aren’t in the ground long enough for the pests to get established.

Dr. Jacob Mittleider’s gardening books, CDs, and Software, as well as natural mineral nutrients, are available at the Foundation website

Mittleider Gardening Magic – Fertilizing Advice and Tips for Your Vegetable Garden

Welcome to Mittleider Gardening Magic advice and tips! I’m excited to be sharing the wisdom of “the world’s greatest vegetable gardener.”

I’ve been a Mittleider gardener ever since the mid 70’s when Jacob Mittleider moved about a mile from my home, and I became his student – patterning my own garden after his prolific backyard masterpiece.

We became friends as I worked with him over the years, and after assisting him on a major teaching project in Russia in 1993, I continued working with him on other projects. And finally in 1998, after more than 20 years of study and work under Jacob’s tutelage, I was given the responsibility and privilege of carrying on his work. I accepted this full-time non-paying job with the proviso that he would continue to stay involved and answer any and all questions, to which he readily agreed, since gardening was his life’s greatest love (just ask his wife, Mildred). Sadly, Jacob died just one month after his 88th birthday, on May 23, 2006. Therefore anything you need to know that Jacob hasn’t already taught me, I will research from his prolific writings.

So, just who is Jacob Mittleider, and what’s his Method all about? You may have seen a neighbor’s beautiful and highly productive Mittleider vegetable garden, and wished yours looked and produced like that. Or perhaps you’ve heard of the great work he’s done around the world. Maybe you even have one of his books and have experimented with growing your own vegetable garden this way. If so, then you may know Jacob’s history, but for those who don’t know him let me tell you very briefly why he’s so famous, and why he promises you a “great garden in any soil and in any climate.”.

For the past 43 years Dr. Jacob Mittleider has quietly and without fanfare dramatically improved the lives of multiplied thousands of people, and even changed the economies of countries, by teaching people how to better feed their families by growing healthy and highly productive vegetable crops – both personally and commercially. He has created 75 teaching and demonstration projects in 27 countries – and has documented his experiences and the great lessons he learned in 10 books, 9 manuals, and 86 video lectures.

To help tell the world’s families about this great gardening method, we have established a 501©(3) Public Charitable Foundation, and created a website at, with a section for free Gardening Techniques and one for frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). The Mittleider Gardening Basics book is there for you free, with Dr. Mittleider’s best wishes for gardening success. There is also a page where you can buy any or all of his books and CD’s, as well as his Mittleider Magic natural mineral fertilizers, also known as “the poor man’s hydroponic mix,” because it is a scientifically balanced and complete plant nutrient mix.

So much for introductions! Let’s get down to learning about growing better vegetable gardens, shall we?

What problems or questions do you have? I will teach you the principles of successful gardening, but I also want to resolve any concerns you may have. There are many conflicting ideas, methods, and procedures out there, and we will do our best to give you factual “works every time” advice and counsel. A few topics we’ll discuss, about which you might have some concern, include:

1. “My soil is terrible, and nothing will grow. What must I do with my soil so that it will grow a good garden?”

2. “I hear that chemicals are poisoning our waterways, and that organic growing is much healthier, how do I grow a healthy, productive garden without hurting the environment?”

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3. “It seems like so much labor-intensive work, with little reward. Is there a way to have a garden that makes financial sense?”

4. “Weeds just take over our garden, and the vegetables don’t really have a chance. What’s the answer?”

5. “Bugs, diseases, and critters get most of our produce! It’s hardly worth growing for the little bit we manage to save – what can we do to minimize our losses?”

6. “We want to be self-sufficient in food, but we’ve heard it would take 2 ½ acres in order to be truly self/sufficient. We live on a 1/3-acre lot – what practical chance do we have to accomplish that?”

7. “I hear using hybrid plants will only make us dependent on the big seed companies, and I want to use heirlooms, so I can save the seed and be assured I’ll always be able to have good plants, is this something I can do, and how do I do it?”

Exciting stuff, don’t you agree? Join me for real, practical advice and answers to the hard gardening questions. You may also pose your own questions, and you’ll find many answers by going to and looking in the Gardening Techniques or FAQ pages. Until next time – Great Gardening!

Extending your Vegetable Garden’s Growing Season by 4 to 6 Weeks – In Both Spring and Fall

Today I want to assist many of you who are wondering how to extend your growing season for a few more weeks. For some it may be too late, as in high elevations like Randolph, Utah, where it was below freezing more than one night in August, but most of the lower elevations in Utah and around the country are still frost-free as I’m writing this article.

How can you deal with the special challenges of living in colder climates? Several difficult weather conditions make successful vegetable gardening an “iffy” proposition, unless you learn how to protect your plants against them. The Mittleider vegetable gardening books are excellent sources of information on this topic. Let’s discuss briefly what these challenges are, and how you can successfully mitigate their negative effects.

First off, many places have late spring frosts, which keep us from getting started in our gardens – often until mid or late May. Second, many of us have strong winds throughout the growing season that buffet our plants and dry everything out. Third, others of us face the scarcity and cost of water. And finally, we often have early crop-killing frosts, usually followed by several weeks of mild weather that could support continued growth and harvesting.

So how do you handle the shorter growing season with unseasonable frosts, the constant drying winds, and the lack of water? Let’s deal with the wind first, since the solution to that also helps reduce the other problems. To protect your garden’s tender plants, build solid fences or plant trees and shrubs between your garden and the prevailing winds – but put them far enough away that you do not shade your garden! So rifaximin help me to do my work best, because this antibiotic work very good, generic Xifaxan can be delivered to United States, United Kingdom. Always remember that the First Law of plant growth is light, and growing vegetables need direct sunshine at least 6-8 hours, and preferably all day long. This means that you also want to place your shade trees so as to leave the garden in full sun.

Some of you do container gardening, or raised boxes. When these are subjected to hot winds they are difficult to keep cool and moist. Consider either larger Grow-Boxes – we recommend 18″ or 4′ wide and up to 30′ in length – or growing in the regular soil. Remember that Dr. Jacob Mittleider promises “a great garden in any soil, in almost any climate.”

Next is watering. You will save ½ or more on your water usage by following these procedures. And it’s amazing how much heat and wind plants can handle if they are properly fed and watered. First, make certain your Grow-Boxes or raised soil-beds are accurately leveled, and that soil-beds have a 4″ ridge around them. Then apply 1″ of water right at the soil surface (not by sprinkling!) before your soil becomes the least bit dry – even every day in the heat of summer if needed. This will place the precious water right at the plant roots, and waste none. Finally, automating your watering using ¾” PVC pipes, with 3 tiny #57 holes every 4″, will make watering fast, easy, and efficient.

Extending your growing season is accomplished in two ways. Next February and March we’ll discuss the first, which is how to grow healthy seedlings in a protected environment and transplant them into the garden after the danger of frost is past. The second thing you can do, even right now if frost hasn’t already killed your garden, is to make “Mini-Greenhouses” for covering your plants. By themselves they are good, but with a small heat source they can extend your growing season in both Spring and Fall even more, often by 4-6 weeks.

Use PVC pipe, bent in a capital “A” shape, but with a 6″ flat top, to fit your bed or box, and covered with 6 mil greenhouse plastic. This provides some protection against frost at night, and will warm the plants on cold days. Cover the edges with dirt all around, and open up when it gets warm. More details are at in the Blog and FAQ sections. And of course the best source for Dr. Jacob Mittleider’s gardening wisdom is The Mittleider Gardening Course book at the same location in the Shop section.

Free Vegetable Gardening Seminars – Tips & Techniques to Turn a Weed Patch into the Garden of Eatin!

I am delighted for the opportunity of presenting free ½-day vegetable gardening seminars again this winter and next spring to groups who request them. My availability is necessarily limited, and timing is critical, so get your church, community, or gardening club involved now!

Seminars include 2+ hours of fast-paced video instruction in the classroom, and 2+ hours of demonstration and practice in the garden. Your group will learn the unique world-renowned Mittleider Method of vegetable gardening that’s been called “the best of organic”, “better than organic,” and “the poor man’s hydroponic system,” and that promises you a great garden in any soil and in virtually any climate.

Whatever size garden you have to work with – whether 100 square feet or one acre; whether on a patio, in containers, or in the dirt; and whether it’s organic, or even hydroponic, you will learn to solve your unique problems and improve your gardening success. And you’ll enjoy gardening for a change!

You’ll learn tips and techniques for maximizing your limited space – eliminating weeds – using less water more efficiently – increasing yields – improving quality – extending your growing season – and minimizing problems with bugs and diseases.

Next summer you can eat fresh garden-grown tomatoes almost as soon as others are getting theirs established and growing in the garden! And you can still be enjoying them in December, long after your neighbors are paying top prices for “plastic” store-bought varieties. And you don’t need expensive greenhouses or hydroponic equipment to do it!

Dr. Jacob Mittleider developed these methods specifically for family gardeners all over the world. And we keep the procedures simple and the costs down, so that families, whatever their financial situation, can grow their own food and achieve health, self-sufficiency, and independence, while enjoying the experience.

You’ll want a large group (50-100 minimum) and a tilled garden space near the classroom (2-3 minute drive maximum), to assure the maximum benefit for all participants.

Email the Foundation with the details of your request at, or call 801-915-4449 or 888-548-4449. Let’s make 2020 the best, most productive, and most enjoyable gardening year you’ve ever had! i had great results with my husband when i use Tadalista wich i received from i bought generic tadalafil under brand name Tadalista, guys ship medications from India

Meanwhile, if you live too far away, or can’t get a large group together, you can get most of the benefits of an in-person seminar by ordering the Gardening Seminar DVD , or the Mittleider Gardening Library CD from the Foundation at And if you don’t already have it, the latest edition of The Mittleider Gardening Course book is 304 pages – all in color, with 150 great garden pictures and dozens of illustrations – of the best gardening book on the planet. Get yours now!