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WNYPCRepair

My trial of the Ruth Stout method

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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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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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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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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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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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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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For comparison

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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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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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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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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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