• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

does anyone use Ruth Stout methods with success?

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love her books and have experiments going on my little research farm here. This is my first year doing deep mulch. The soil is nice and moist, lots of worms, but the snails (Amber snails) ate all the cucumbers and peas that came up in the spring and the only plants to come through the mulch are the dreaded bindweed. This has been beneficial to the bindweed and leaves me with fewer delicious weeds.

I want deep mulch to work for me, and I want to be like ruth stout when I'm ninety, but I think I need to hear how
others make it work.

How do you do it? What challenges do you face and how do you overcome? I'd loooove to see photos.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Had anyone used ruth stout methods with no success?
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Last year I threw down 50 pounds of seed potato, red pontiac.
Some were simply placed on the ground with a few handfuls of compost, then covered with leaves and/or grass clippings.
Some were set in a trench with the compost and leaves, with the hope that rain would help cover them with sand.
Lack of rain and a fair amount of neglect left me at the end of the season digging up marbles. There was no crop. Dissapointed, I let the rest of the plants go.

I did not dig up all the plants. This year I have around 30 volunteers show up. There has been pretty good rain this year. I've mulched some of these plants. I dug one up, found 2 golf ball sized potatoes, so it's encouraging.

I also have some sweet potato volunteers. One in particular has been mulched heavily and currently stretches several feet.

There is promise.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1592
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
47
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have been deep mulching over bindweed.

I have observed that:

bindweed roots pull up much more easily through mulch - you can get much more of the plant at each weeding.
I've been pulling bindweed regularly this year and have made an serious impact on plant vigour - probably 6 weeks of pulling every little bit once a week.

If you keep at it I think you will be able to beat it, but chucking mulch down over it alone will definitely NOT do the job. On the other hand, the mulch make it much easier to spot the tiny bindweed sprouts, and makes your weeding much more effective.
 
James Colbert
Posts: 271
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When you pull out most weeds and don't pull the roots with it, it tends to make the plant stronger. The weed will say to itself "hey, this is a harsh environment I better beef up to protect myself." So the weed puts out more roots which results in more weeds. Have you tried smothering with burlap or newsprint? In my experience it is better to force the plant to exhaust is carbohydrate reserves. The plant grows and grows but because there is no light it eventually runs out of stored energy and dies. I haven't had to fight bind weed but i have reclaimed an area covered by aggressive vine. I used the Ruth Stout Method but first I put down some newsprint to slow the vine down. This isn't 100% but it slows the weeds down long enough for desired plants to establish themselves. When weeds to poke through I let them grow a bit, bend over so they are parallel to the round and cover with another layer of newsprint and deep (8"+) straw mulch. Everything is growing great.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have different methods going in different areas in an attempt to figure out the best bindweed control methods. The best success is when I curl it up in a tight ball without breaking and cover it tightly with a rock and then a bucket. In most areas this is just not possible of course, I would need tons of rocks and many buckets. The more I break the plants and roots the more it grows, for sure

Cardboard is a good smotherer. We don't get the paper so cardboard from our food co-op is easier to come by.

There are many invasive plants here but the bindweed is the only one that feels insurmountable. Still, I am trying to observe and learn.

 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My beds were dug out and are an underground hugelculture, then they were shaped to the specs
Recommended by Emelia Hazelip. From that point on it is Ruth Stout and I started off on this trail
because of her. Enhanced predator habitat is a geoff lawton term but that seems to be the slug solution
over time.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Where are you located, Alex? How many inches of rain do you get?

The snails have attracted so many predators! It's bird paradise here, between my blueberries and the snails. Still, there are so many snails. The chickens love them, but if I let the chickens forage in the garden to eat the snails they will do at least as much damage to the seedlings!

I believe, in my heart, in deep mulch, but I need more advice and experience putting it into practice.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu I am located in Georgia and we have had more rain this year than in the
last three years combined.

Save seed wherever possible, pull the mulch back, plant more than you need and pull the mulch
back after the seedlings get started. Stand by to re- plant if need be. Take advantage of volunteers.
Don't get hung up on being exact because Ruth Stout did what she wanted and you should too.

I have experimented with various slug control methods but at this point I would say somebody is
eating them for me. I have garter snakes, tons of birds, virtually no toad frogs for some reason and
the slugs have not been a problem this year.
 
Aljaz Plankl
Posts: 384
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu, maybe wood chip mulch would be better for your garden if you have lots of snails.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Aljaz Plankl wrote:Matu, maybe wood chip mulch would be better for your garden if you have lots of snails.



I have noticed that when I spread horse manure with shavings in the winter
that the shavings are on top after the first good rain. When the sun shines again
this soon starts to look baked out. That is an illusion because when you pull the
shavings back it is very moist underneath. I have a friend who grows perennial
ornamentals under a wood chip mulch and she does not water at all. When she
is starting a new bed she spreads chips and lets them sit in place for a year before
she plants. Her plants are some of the healthiest I have seen.
 
Aljaz Plankl
Posts: 384
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not sure why you quoted me... just want to say i agree, they don't dry out, but snails hate to wander where there is wood chip mulch.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Aljaz I quoted you agree with you. Ruth Stout found she could get farmers to drop off spoiled
hay and she used it for no other reason than that. Cover the ground with something that will
break down over time and in the meantime keep the soil moist and smother weeds.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 115
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
it has worked well for me. Putting manure down in the fall or winter then mulching with hay really helps our clay become fertile. Have found out the hard way if you don't keep it mulched, grass really takes over.
Slugs and snails were a real problem till i got runner ducks. if you let them hang out when nothing is planted they will do a good job on slugs. When things are growing if you let them run through the garden for 30-60 minutes in the morning (they seem to be into foraging more early) they usually go for bugs and the tall skinny mushrooms that grow in hay and leave the plants (mostly). it cuts way down on weeds but i don't think there is a way to do absolutely no weeding. it definitely saves on watering. Happy growing.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ducks would be good to have. I have set myself a limit, I'm not taking on any new creatures who will rely on me for survival at the moment.

I really wish I could get out there weeding more. This summer had been hard with the double whammy of a baby born at the end of May and two weeks later a bad case of erlichiosis (tick borne disease) and Lyme and babesiosis for the other household members. There was a population explosion of deer ticks and I felt I couldn't accept wwoofers if they would be walking into debilitating disease. So, no workers, no-one to keep the weeds down, and the ticks tend to live in moist tall grass and weeds.

I love the idea of having a once a week bindweed decimation. I am going to brainstorm how to do that. I need child care. With the baby and the twin 3 year olds, it's all I can do to care for the people and animals we have. I was hoping deep mulch would help. It's hard to tell at this point

I am interested to see what it all looks like in the winter. More will be revealed.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu it is late in the year and if you have lost your way with the weeds this year
you can mulch the trouble spots heavier over the winter and get better results next
year. I have some intentional rampancy that has mingled in with various vines along
my neighbors fence and will reclaim the area over the winter. I may use cardboard or
newspaper to help smother it and mulch over that. A high percentage of my garden
is weed free and I can move around without being miserable.
 
David Good
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Equatorial tropics
30
books forest garden
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I found both good and bad things about deep mulching... wrote up my thoughts here:

http://theprepperproject.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-deep-mulch-gardening/

The success, shall we say, was mixed.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David your point about the size of your area is valid. Here is a Garden Layout from Ruth Stout's garden.
She also used the same methods in her flower beds. If you are working with a huge area some other method
would needed for some applications.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
David Good
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Equatorial tropics
30
books forest garden
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you, Alex. I hadn't seen that diagram before.

If someone has a small space and the right climate - it works wonders.

Steve Solomon believes that good compost that puts long-term organic matter in the soil requires some clay. I'm inclined to agree. The effect of layers of mulch in my garden (before the Nashville flood) was impressive. I still use deep mulch here and there, it's just hard to get enough without buying in materials - and I learned my lesson on that one the hard way after killing a big chunk of my gardens thanks to herbicide residue.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David, that was a great article. I think everything you say makes sense. I think the area I have been using for my garden may be bigger than I can manage right now, but when my kids are bigger, I think it will be the right size. Soil building and invasive weed abatement now will pay off down the road I think. Getting the stuff here is a hassle, but I do live in a place where grass fed meat is common and big round bales of hay spoil. I'd need a lot of them to cover the entire garden one foot thick...

The poor tomato plant that I put in on Ruth Stout bed had a really hard time getting started, and the pepper and eggplant never took off, but now the tomato is the sturdiest, heartiest looking one I have. The season is slipping away though. I wonder if the soil was too cool under there.

Worms aplenty, that's for sure...
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 786
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That is exactly right David. What I observe is that most people buy most of their material for sheet mulching.
And if you try to sheet mulch over a very compacted site then the sheet mulch does nothing for the soil underneath at least not short term.
Ducks are maybe viable in a huge garden but in a small garden they eat everything. We had wild ducks in our garden until everything was enclosed. Not very organic but I use slug pellets. There are these who don't kill other animals and are ferro something which apparently breaks down to ?, a fertilizer. I only use it in very wet month when the slugs are busy.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The first year I started my permaculture design in earnest we had an explosion of Amber snails, a delicate aquatic species. We don't have a pond on our property but I guess we conserved enough moisture for an aquatic species! I panicked a little bit but just waited. There were thousands everywhere. It crunched.

Soon there was a bird population exp losion! Birds everywhere. Still snails but my panic went away. With the deep mulch though, the snails are loving it and hiding from the birds. I'm still using the "observe observe observe" method and using a long view. it's a bummer to have lost all the press and cucumbers this year though, because those are the favorites of my kids.
 
Linda Ford
Posts: 32
Location: Southwestern New Mexico
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What about the plates of beer I always heard about. Has anyone tried that?
 
Linda Ford
Posts: 32
Location: Southwestern New Mexico
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I read her book years ago but I think Ruth Stout said that if there were weeds the mulch wasn't thick enough (in depth but also density). I wonder about the herbicides on commercial grass and straw defeating our purposes (less of a problem for Ruth), but using our own chop-n-drop mitigates that. Our unusual rain in my area (NM, USA) has provided tons of Pig-weed for harvest soon. I don't think she put down cardboard where she was planting assuming the seeds of the rotting weeds could not germinate without sunlight which could not get through the deep mulch.

The years I tried it I lived in Ohio where everything grows because of the high water table, I could just keep throwing more weeds on top of the mulch pile, later covered by more mulch and their seeds would fall on through into the damp darkness. I only had to deal with what grew up in the openings with my seedlings.

I also believe she did not mix her compost in with the mulch but pulled the plant material aside to spread the compost and then put the blanket of mulch back on top. It was all about the blanket. We may have added some better techniques since her day, but NO WORK is still my goal.

I have wondered how I might use shredded paper, but it seems to mat down into pulp (with it's glue) to quickly become an impermeable layer, like the cardboard. I use it in my chicken's nest boxes where it is dry and they keep it stirred. It washes off the egg shells easily but colored papers can sometimes stain and the slick paper has even more glue. Perhaps a member can advise me if I can use layered cardboard strips to mimic timber in the hugelbed, then is there a means to use shredded paper also?
 
Jose Reymondez
Posts: 137
Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I´ve tried the beer Linda and it worked. It turned in to a little graveayrd of snails and slugs.
 
Dale Stroud
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am on my second season it seems to be working. Last year we had a drought and soil never needed watered but the yield was a little down. This year we have gotten to much rain and my yield seems to be down also. But I will continue with Mrs. Stouts method and see how it goes.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Linda, I think cardboard layers could work in a hugel. They would break down more quickly than wood but they are made of lignin which is key to fungal growth.

The only weed that seems to be able to penetrate the deep mulch is bindweed. I also have found in my experiments with summarizing large areas with tarps that bindweed is the only one that can survive. My suspicion is that the bindweed plants are actually one huge plant that has vast resources to draw on. It's gambling stored energy to colonize every possible space including under tarps, in the deep mulch, into the barn window I left open... talk about Pioneer plants...
 
Dave Quinn
Posts: 86
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ever heard the saying 'some things happen for a reason'?

On Wednesday I called at my friends on the way back from London. I was browsing through his books and asked to borrow 3 one of which was Ruth Stout's book. I'd never heard of her before then.

I started to read and it seemed to echo Fukuoka whose methods I have been attempting to follow. Thought I'd check it out here yesterday and the most recent post in the growies section was in this thread.

Read the book last night. Got a source of organic hay this morning and I'm starting today


 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave, that's great!

It is wonderful to me how these different characters in very different places came up with similar method and ideas.

As a young person with my first gardens I felt intuitively that I wanted to mulch with the weeds, plant polycultures, and use keyhole designs and other non linear designs. People made fun of my gardens and in one shared garden my friend would go through after I weeded and remove the weeds so it would look better. I.was even embarrassed of my garden, at the same time loving it and spending my free time there.

When I started to read about fukokua, stout, holzer, et al, I felt so redeemed! And now after gardening for 15 years or so I feel comfortable with my wild looking productive beautiful farm and I know that maybe by the time I'm in my seventies I'll have the sense of humor and experience to write a good book...

If I had more time and a free hand if take more photos and show y'all what I'm doing. Maybe I'll make that a goal. If anyone has photos of their deep mulch successes and challenges/failures it would be great to see them.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is the yield from one poor beleaguered eggplant in the deep mulch. At least it survived the summer...
20130823_231414.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20130823_231414.jpg]
 
Kevin Hiebert
Posts: 38
Location: Zone 3 SW Manitoba, Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can echo some of the earlier posts about less than stellar results the first year!
We are in Zone 3A and discovered that we need to let the bare black earth really warm up before mulching. We mulched heavily right after planting seeds and transplanting seedlings (first week of June) and had very low germination rates, peppers never really established at all and the tomatoes are at least 2-3 weeks behind where they should be. Only the beans and spinach really thrived.
Next year we will pull all the mulch back as soon as the snow is gone so everything can get good and warm and then mulch 2-3 weeks later after plants are up and established.
I guess this isn't truly Ruth Stout-esque because we didn't mulch on top of mulch on top of mulch but... observe and adapt.
I did try potatoes in deep mulch (24" of loose straw) and have high hopes! Our soil is very rich but also very heavy and root crops generally have a tough time.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Linda Ford wrote:What about the plates of beer I always heard about. Has anyone tried that?


It kills them well enough but I wonder if it should be used outside the garden rather
than in it. It is like "calling all slugs" when you put the beer out!
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One thing about beer slug traps. Raccoons like beer. You do NOT want drunken raccoons in the garden!
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu my eggplant got eaten by the okra so don't feel bad.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All the big tomatoes are done but I am getting good production from
the black cherry tomatoes.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu Collins wrote:This is the yield from one poor beleaguered eggplant in the deep mulch. At least it survived the summer...



Matu I feel your pain! Nevertheless there is a counterpoint. More pictures.

The complimentary thread recommended at the bottom of the page "tips for using
The Ruth Stout Method" chronicles some of my/and others struggles from last year.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
And here is yesterday's production from a 12' been trellis which was picture earlier.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Alex!

Now it seems that the eggplant I planted in my first year Ruth Stout bed has grown much healthier. There are four tiny new fruits on a plant that had looked weak and sickly and unproductive. The leaves look vigorous and it looks filled out somehow. If the season is long enough, maybe I will get something! I think it has something to do with moisture, but probably the bed maturing too.

Today is my birthday and deep mulch made my day. For the first time, I pulled an entire large bindweed plant out, roots and all, without breaking any of it. I can't think of a better present.
20130903_114437.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20130903_114437.jpg]
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Happy Birthday Matu! Sounds like you need to figure out some way to start earlier or
stay later, in any event extend your season some.

My garden is in a sunny spot but is surrounded by pine trees. It tends to come in later and last a
good bit longer than friends, whose garden in an open field. We compare notes at church and it is
pretty consistent.
 
Cob is sand, clay and sometimes straw. This tiny ad is made of cob:
Learn, Design, Teach, & Inspire with Permaculture games.
FoodForestCardGame.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!