Published September 5, 2015

Armagarden 2014: First Year Successes and Failures in our 
Mittleider Garden

Using the proven, time efficient techniques learned in the Mitteider gardening handbook, growing a large 3000 sqft garden was not very time consuming at all. Of course tilling up the lawn, leveling the soil and putting in automation took a lot of work. 

I laid out black plastic in an attempt to kill the well-established lawn. 

The lawn is dead, sort-of and the garden rows were tilled under. 

Adding sprinkler lines and flow-control valves, (rows were later split up into zones). 

Adding 3 zones of automation. Each zone controls 4 garden rows.

The original lawn was not about to give up without a fight so it tried to retake the land.

And because of the decaying grass, the grubs proliferated and attacked the tender young garden plants. This caused crop failures on several rows. Tilling the grass under eventually paid off because it provided rich, organic material to an otherwise barren, clay soil. 

At the end of the growing season, harvesting and preserving all that food was also a huge undertaking, but daily care throughout the season only required 5-10 minutes of attention each day. It really was not a huge burden. 
Even with all the initial setbacks, the garden ended up being a great success. 

We grew enough tomatoes to cover 95% of our annual tomato eating needs, (eating fresh, making chilies, lasagnas, soups almost all year. 42 quarts of bottled tomato juice lasted us until late July 2015, about 10 months. 

I even made ketchup several times with the tomato juice. 

It was so delicious and lasted us nearly all year. 

Mustard greens gave way to mustard seed which was harvested and made into very spicy Asian mustard.

Whoa! Too HOT!!! Yikes! 

Next time, we’ll grow the more mild white mustard seed and make milder yellow mustard. 

We grew several varieties of lettuce through the spring and early summer and again later in the fall.

Sugar baby watermelons did great 

but cantaloupe and honeydew crops all failed.

The pumpkin plants also failed but the kids brought home pumpkins and after Halloween we put up 21 quarts of pumpkin and used up most of them in pies and soups.

The 15 lbs of sunflower seeds that we harvested from a 30’ row of giant sunflower were made into sun-butter or toasted and used in the home-grown salads. 

The seeds tasted good but the sun butter was a flop. Hmm we’ll have to go back and try again next year. One row of oil seeds and one of the confectionery variety.

My daughter wanted to plant beans so we did. They grew over 8 feet tall. 

We got over 15 lbs of dried red and white beans from a single 15’ row.

We later bottled them for use in soups and other meals. They lasted throughout the winter. 

No more canned beans for us. 

Carrots lasted us all through the winter and even until May the following year.

Some were bigger than others. They were delicious. 

For the first time in our entire marriage we grew amazing corn on the cob. It tasted great. 

The corn on the cob that we didn’t eat in time was dried and ground into corn meal which we used for corn-bread to go with the homemade chili made from our home-grown tomatoes.

Home made corn bread, made from home grown cornmeal. 

The kale did amazing and lasted throughout the entire winter and into the spring. 

Broccoli did great but we ate it all too quickly. Cauliflower never flowered. Celery tasted amazing. A 5 foot row lasted us through December.

You know how a homegrown tomato tastes way better than a store bought one? The same goes for homegrown celery and broccoli vs store bought. 

Cabbage was enormous and tasted great. 

Beets did awesome and lasted us into December.

I still have much to learn about growing onions and garlic. They didn’t do much of anything in the garden.

Overall, the garden brought so much excitement, joy and food to my family, I thought to myself, "why are we still buying food from the store when we could be growing even more superior food in the backyard?"
In November 2014, the 3000 square foot garden was expanded to a 6000 sqft, 0.14 acre field. Next year is going to be Amazing! 

Additions for this next supersized Mittleider garden: Potatoes, okra, sugar beets, (another experimental crop), gourds, (just for fun), fava beans, blackberries, Goji berries and four more fruit trees. 
It is plausible that we could be growing 65% of our annual food, literally in our own backyard. The majority of what we can’t grow can be bought in bulk, (like wheat, rice, white flour, sugar and morning moos). 85% of all our food can be grown or made from our in-home food stores.
What remains that must be purchased is the weekly stuff like eggs, fresh milk, (for making yogurt), cheese, fresh fruits during the off-season, boxed cereals that the kids love to eat and of course my favorite, Honey Maid Graham Crackers. It’s plausible that we might only have to spend $30 per week on food. For a family of 6, how great would that be?