View from our 2nd story farm house window
I discovered the soil in my little “Ruth Stout” gardening plot teeming with bugs and earthworms this morning. Picked up a square of moldy hay and dozens of crickets and other creepy looking bugs headed for cover.
The mood in the East orchard (and garden plot) was so peaceful and beckoning this morning I had to spend some extra time there. I decided to square off the North end of the potato plot and make a second planting of Hidatsa Shield beans.
Last night Danielle (our resident writer/poet/musician) asked me about the garden. By her own admission, gardening is not at the top of her things to do list, so it touched me she was even willing to go there. As I started to list some of the reasons I was excited about this years heavy mulched garden she asked me “Why doesn’t everyone do it this way?”
“Good question!” I replied.
In case you’ve never heard of Ruth Stout or her heavy mulch model of gardening, here are some of the reasons I decided to give it a whirl:
#1. Never need to till or plow your garden again, which means, you don’t need to own a tiller, or hire someone in the spring to work up the soil. Period.
#2. Very little weeding. Period. The mulch acts like a blanket that keeps 90% of the weeds from ever germinating.
#3 No composting pile, bin, etc. to turn, handle multiple times, or babysit. The things you would normally place in your compost pile, you now tuck under the existing blanket of mulch in your garden and mother nature takes it from there.
#4 Don’t have to supplement the soil with earth worms. Earth worms are a sign of good soil, and when I’ve dug into the potato hills the soil is loaded.
#5 The mulch regulates the soil moisture much better than bare ground.
#6 You don’t kill the worms in the soil that inevitably happens when you till.
#7 It frees up time – a lot of time that historically you would have spent trying to stay ahead of your weeds.
#8 If you’re a reader, you will LOVE her books. They are fun to read on a winters night as you sip your hot cocoa and start to plan your garden for the next season.
#9 A heavy mulched garden is pleasing to my eyes. I take my kitchen scraps, water melon rinds, etc. pick up the hay and tuck it underneath where it quietly begins to break down without me having to look at it.
#10 Because you don’t till you don’t bring new weed seeds to the surface. I never connected the dots on weed seeds until just a few years ago. It is a fact of life that the soil is full of weed seeds. Every time you work up the soil, you bring a new crop of seeds to the surface and they will germinate.
#11 No need to do that back-breaking double digging to prep your garden plot. Even when you’re wanting to start a new plot you don’t have to till. Get yourself a large tarp, or several large pieces of cardboard and weigh them down, and over the course of several weeks (or months if you’re planning head) everything will die off.
2013 garden produce starting to come in
View as I walk into garden.
I would love to hear your thoughts / questions on this, as well as hear from other people who have tried the heavy mulching approach to gardening, and even if this is not how you garden, tell me something about your garden this season – what are some of your favorite things to grow, etc.
Here’s a 20 minute interview of Ruth Stout I just found on Youtube:
Thanks for stopping by the blog! DM