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WNYPCRepair

My trial of the Ruth Stout method

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WNYPCRepair

The Ruth Stout method is a no till option using mulch to prevent weeds, reduce (or eliminate) watering, and improving soil. Ruth preferred hay, but wood chips will do. The Back To Eden method is similar, and uses wood chips. 

My back yard is worthless clay that dries like concrete in summer, and develops cracks so large I can stick my hand in up to my wrist, and barely grows grass. I mow in a dust cloud, the grass is so thin, and there are large areas I rarely even have to mow, the grass grows so slow and thin. So I decided I might as well try to grow vegetables.

With this method, you need to heavily mulch with 8 or more inches of hay in the fall, and let it compost over the winter, plant in spring and cover with more hay or straw. I was not able to do that due to my broken ankle last fall, so I had to make some modifications. 

There is an area where the yard was so low, the ditch that carries the spring melt from the 25 acres of forest behind my house would overflow and cover most of the back yard, so I pushed some old firewood that I don't use into a pile along the ditch, kind of like a breakwall, and dumped and spread wood chips to bring that part of the yard up to hopefully avoid flooding. Then I brought in leaf compost and made 3 foot wide rows for planting, much like a raised bed, but with no frames. Then I covered that with hay, and planted by pulling back the hay and put my plants in. Hopefully I will get a decent harvest, though starting with the RS method, especially in spring, they say it may take 2 to 4 years to get really good soil. 

So here is a picture. I also still have my small garden off to the side of my house, which is shady, for lettuce and radishes, and a raspberry patch. Yes, I like raspberries. :) 

I also have a tiny HF greenhouse to the right for starting seeds, and an asparagus bed I started this year about 15 x 5, with 25 asparagus crowns planted. In 2020, I should be able to start harvesting asparagus.





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Edited by WNYPCRepair
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WNYPCRepair

I'm waiting for the woods to dry enough for me to push that brush pile back into the woods and chip it up. My goal is to clear a larger patch back in the woods, fell the trees and chip it all up to bring the level up high enough to enlarge the garden back into the woods. 

 

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DennisThornton

Her methods work but takes time.  Worms will work the organic matter and slowly "till" some clay at the top into soil. 

 

I must have missed that you broke your ankle.  Did that.  Don't want to repeat! 

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WNYPCRepair
On 6/6/2018 at 7:12 AM, DennisThornton said:

Her methods work but takes time.  Worms will work the organic matter and slowly "till" some clay at the top into soil. 

 

I must have missed that you broke your ankle.  Did that.  Don't want to repeat! 



The ankle was last July. The gift that keeps on giving. I don't think I will ever be back to normal again

 

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DennisThornton

Sorry to hear it happened and sorry to hear it still bothers you!  My 9 screw & plate fixation kit worked great and I have zero issues.  

Hopefully in time you won't either. 

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WNYPCRepair
On 6/3/2018 at 12:38 PM, WNYPCRepair said:

I'm waiting for the woods to dry enough for me to push that brush pile back into the woods and chip it up. My goal is to clear a larger patch back in the woods, fell the trees and chip it all up to bring the level up high enough to enlarge the garden back into the woods. 

 



So today I had a guy drop off 10 yards of mulch, so I built a road through the woods to get to that patch and mow. It was waist high!

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WNYPCRepair

For comparison

5b27d44156585_garden8-18.JPG.107064bb639d4da94b7a5d90978de750.JPG

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WNYPCRepair

I forgot to update this. I'll try to take a picture tomorrow, but the sweet potatoes have grown so much they are starting to cover the tomatoes. 

I have gotten more produce than I can possibly eat, freeze and give away, and this is only the first year. It gets better every year, according to the fans of this system. 

Tomorrow I will see if any of the melons are ripe yet. :) 

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Daron1965

How did everything turn out?  Any tips or advice?  I'm in the process of covering the small garden area.  Hoping for the best.   

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WNYPCRepair

I was extremely pleased. We got more tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini than we could eat and give away, and below are a couple of watermelons and cantaloupes. The picture of the garden is in september, as it was dying off. On the left are white sweet potatoes (about 20 pounds), then you can see some purple and green peppers, then the tomatoes, though I think they were pretty much done when this picture was taken. Then on the right are beans, peas, and potatoes. Not shown are 15 raspberry bushes. 

Considering the ground was rock hard clay, with 4 inches of compost, it produced amazingly well. I did zero weeding, and very little watering, and I may have not needed to water at all, I was just paranoid because it was so dry. The weeds and grass you see is an area with no plants. I ran out of hay, and since nothing was planted, I just let it grow.

I mowed everything down and put about 4 inches of packed hay over the whole thing for winter. If your hay is fluffy, use 6 to 8 inches. Let it rot over winter, then put down another 3 to 6 inches in spring, and pull it aside to plant your seeds or plants. 

By the third or fourth year, the dirt should be loose and black, like compost. It should continue to yield more and more every year. The most work after it was set up the first time, was keeping everything picked. Next was putting down the hay at the end. During the summer, it was pretty much maintenance free. If weeds pop up, toss hay on them to smother them








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WNYPCRepair

I do have an issue with voles though. Next year I will grow everything on trellises made from welded wire to keep it off the ground. The only other solution is to bury hardware cloth in a 12" deep trench, and 12" above ground. The trellises will increase yield, I think, and will be easier.

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WNYPCRepair

The view from my upstairs window of the garden, prepared for spring with 6 to 8 inches of hay and leaves. The cat next door is doing her best to help with the vole issue, she hunts it every day. I saw her out before first light the other day, thought it was a coyote or fox at first, just saw movement. Got my flashlight and figured out it was the cat.

1009395075_gardenwinter.jpg.9b3995e87a4aed94abfcbdd3f07e0601.jpg

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Daron1965

Looks like the method worked well for you.  Going to pick up some hay this weekend. I will be adding it to the top of the garden,  and let it rot in over winter. 

 

I'm already trying to decide what to plant. :think:

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WNYPCRepair
On 12/18/2018 at 8:02 AM, Daron1965 said:

Looks like the method worked well for you.  Going to pick up some hay this weekend. I will be adding it to the top of the garden,  and let it rot in over winter. 

 

I'm already trying to decide what to plant. :think:



Google it and read up on it. 

You can pick up some of her books cheap, there are YouTube videos, and a Facebook group. 

The longer you do it, the better the soil. After 3 to 5 years you will see the best results, but mine did well, and my soild was just hard clay, but I did add compost on top, because I didn't start in the fall, I had a broken ankle

 

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6wheeler

Glad to see this worked for you. We did a similar thing to our squash garden. But we made it a "Lasagna" garden. As with yours, We have hard clay issues. With this garden? First, I put down a layer of grass hay,(app. 4" thick). Then, a layer of cardboard (moistened). Followed by a layer of chicken house manure., (app. 4" thick). Then another layer of cardboard (moistened). Finally, another thicker layer of grass hay. Between each layer of material? Sprinkle  a mixture of blood meal and bone meal. Then during the growing season? We can get by with limited watering. Plus, good weed control. To plant seeds in this? Make holes in the lasagna and place the seeds. What this does? It encourages the worms to come up and get into the "lasagna". They eat the cardboard and decaying material. Things to remember though. The chicken manure has to be aged. Because, it is very high in nitrogen. Any manure will work. The one other problem? Cats and dogs really get attracted to the bone/blood meal. We have done this to this particular garden for 3 years now. The other benefit to this? I can dig worms in there, it is loaded. Worm castings are great manure. Last fall, after the squash was done? I plowed this garden. I plowed it app. 8" deep. The ground was very mellow and dark. Not at all like the brown crusty clay of 4 years ago. The 2 other gardens are getting some "overhauls" of there own this year. 

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Dakota8338
On 6/7/2018 at 7:57 PM, WNYPCRepair said:

The ankle was last July. The gift that keeps on giving. I don't think I will ever be back to normal again

 

I broke my right ankle in the summer of 1978, which was forty years ago, soon to be forty-one, and it still bothers me.  No, I don't think it will ever be normal again.

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GlenPettit

The Ruth Stout method is Great, after 20 years of this our garden is super rich.  Yes, they say the first year will be a little low on Nitrogen but we've got sheep manure to add.

What was added 3 years ago is all gone now and is just black earth/compost now. Almost anything can be added, even sawdust on top.

Glen

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