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does anyone use Ruth Stout methods with success?

 
Posts: 415
Location: Georgia
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Tomatoes are coming in!
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steward
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Here's what they look like.
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Alex Ames
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Ken I have been pulling the mulch back and pushing the potatoes,eye up, into
the soil a little bit when I plant. Then I pull the mulch back over. Ruth Stout
just threw them down and mulched over. They don't seem to care what you do!
I admire the way she just trusted stuff to grow.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
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Hay or leaves were pulled back, potato dropped on the ground, hay or leaves thrown back to cover em up.
They hay and the leaves had been decomposing for some time, still clearly identifiable as leaves and hay, albeit kinda black and molded. The wood chips held a great volume of water. The top few inches dried out, but deep down where the roots were, there was ample moisture. I've had difficulty growing in the soil here in Florida. It is 99% sand. No clay, no silt, next to nothing for organic matter, no water holding ability, no nutrients, just sand. The rotting material provides a continual supply of nutrients. Moisture retention is what makes it all possible.

 
pollinator
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Why yes. I also garden naked. I think I might be her long lost granddaughter or something.
 
pollinator
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I'm just starting this whole permaculture adventure, and this is the first time I've ever heard of Ruth Stout. From a preliminary read of her method, it seems to be very similar to that of Masanobu Fukuoka. So, forgive an ignorant question, but how do they differ?
 
Alex Ames
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Chris Watson wrote:I'm just starting this whole permaculture adventure, and this is the first time I've ever heard of Ruth Stout. From a preliminary read of her method, it seems to be very similar to that of Masanobu Fukuoka. So, forgive an ignorant question, but how do they differ?




It will take further study for you to fully understand the two methods but I will
attempt to boil it down.

Fukuoka was a farmer who grew many things but as I understand it he majored in grains. He grew
things in a natural way without plowing. Very fascinating that he could get it to work and IMO hard
to duplicate. One of his methods was using "seed balls" which were cast here and there and sprouted.
He was very philosophical about things like crop failure which visited him at times while he was developing
his system. If I were going to use his methods I would find somebody who studied directly under him to
teach me how to make it work.

Ruth Stout was a gardener who covered her garden plot with spoiled hay she got
from her neighbors. She found she could plant through it and things grew well and
required little to no fertilization other than what was provided by the hay and worm castings.
To plant seed she pulled back the hay and planted into the soil in rows or patches. She
also bought plants like strawberries and just plugged them in. She says she never watered.

 
Alex Ames
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Summer is long gone now but...
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Been using sheet mulching since my first permaculture class in 1991. Could not garden over 35 very large raised beds (approx 5' wide and 50' to 75' long) without sheet mulching. We use cardboard, newspaper, what have you that will keep weeds & seeds from getting light then cover with straw, old hay, etc. Starting all mulching in early Winter after plants have died down. The weeds which do come through the mulch are pretty easy to pull out. It works well with large-seeded plants. We start small-seeded plants in the greenhouse then plant into mulch. Slugs are a problem but I asked an older neighbor what they used and he said wood ashes. This will probably not work on a very large scale as you have to go around each plant with a light dusting of ashes and re-apply after heavy rain, but is very effective - slugs and other soft-bodied critters don't like to crawl over the sharp minerals in the ashes. The problem we have is mice eating root crops and do not have an answer for this one.

With the weather weirding, we're trying to do a market garden (Wrocklage Run Farm) with very little fossil fuel usage so don't plow at all. Our tractor is used mostly for hauling straw, compost, etc around the 21 acres and we hope to soon stop using it at all. I am currently looking for a way to use cover crops and ground covers rather than sheet mulching to keep down weeds, hold moisture, etc. so we don't have to keep buying straw which is baled using fossil fuels. With raised beds, crops which have to be tilled in won't work - we disturb soil as little as possible. As one of my pc teachers said "you can take soil out of a hole but you can only put dirt back in." So we need cover crops/ground covers which are perennial and can be used with other crops in them.

BTW, our farm is 3 yrs old and we're planting lots of food trees and other perennials. We're testing plants which might grow here in hotter, drier and (the same plants) in colder, wetter conditions. If anyone knows of "tough" food plants which will grow in what is now zone 5/6, please let me know. Our farm is approx 1/2 miles from our home which includes forest garden, solar elect, solar water, etc etc.
 
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Location: Oklahoma
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Yes. I swear by Ruth Stout. But I have modified it slightly for permaculture. I don't cover everything with mulch. I mulch only the rows. Between the rows the sod grows and gets mowed. My project page has pictures.

https://permies.com/t/39394/projects/Red-Baron-Project#306639
 
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Location: Joplin, MO Zone 6b
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barb fath wrote:If anyone knows of "tough" food plants which will grow in what is now zone 5/6, please let me know.




Elaine Ingham is a proponent of what you are describing with low growing perennial cover crops, but I haven't yet found anyone actually doing it. I am excited about the idea and really want to try it out though. If you find out anything more, please let me know.

http://www.soilfoodweb.com/Cover_Plants.html
 
Posts: 1947
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It turned out that some of the spoiled hay I was using came from a farmer who I have since learned is not honest about his chemical use. The farm told me that they don't use anysprays but empty bags of poison have since blown away from their barn toward me, and I am pretty sure they fumigate the place where they keep the bales with fungicide.

I'm convinced that mulching peas is unnecessary and possibly detrimental, I grow salad to be thinned as the peas are picked. Better polyculture system for us to harvest. I use the deep mulch on perennials and herbs and tomatoes and other bigger plants. My blueberry bushes love the thick coat of woodchips I have been giving them every year.

 
Posts: 81
Location: Mad City, Wisconsin
trees food preservation bee
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Ken Peavey wrote: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.



Ruth Stout way - it works.
I grow potatoes with success.
Never water; not once (this is south WI and can get hot/dry - not a problem).
Pull few weeds.

My way:
* collect lots of cardboard beforehand and wood chips (or locate free sources)
* plant tubers very, very shallow (just barely in; no heavy digging)
* cover everything between rows with the cardboard
* cover everything with wood chips on top (may take many wheelbarrows)
* as potatoes grow - hill them up WITH the wood chips (keep adding the chips IF needed)
* the project is front-heavy; but no digging at that - a bonus
* once planted and mulched - sit back and enjoy the resources saved AND the crop!

 
Gregory T. Russian
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Location: Mad City, Wisconsin
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One thing - try to avoid commercial straw (can be full of chemicals - no trust there).
Cardboard and wood chips and your own kitchen scraps - way to go.
 
gardener
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I purchased Ruth Stout's No Work Garden Book from a thrift store about 3 years ago. I think this concept would work very well given time. The first year we had access to a neighbor's round bale of alfalfa that had rolled away into the woods. We also mowed our grass where the clippings were in rows so I could rake them up. The garden did well that year and I liked the look of the mulch. Last year we had no access to free hay (my husband wouldn't consider paying for such) and I don't know why he wouldn't mow so that I could collect. I asked several times. We went over the garden in the fall with the broad fork (aerating not turning over) and broadcast some clover seed. The clover was small because it was sown too late and competing with chickweed.
I recently got the Back to Eden DVD. The method there is to cover your garden with wood chips and don't till them in. I do have a pile of wood chips since we had a hemlock taken down and the branches ground up. It's just not enough for all garden areas. The company who did the work needs places to dump chips. The problem I face here is our yard was greatly damaged by their heavy equipment last time so they'd need another dumping spot and I don't know where that could be. We don't want more divots in our yard and we don't want their equipment getting stuck in other spots. In order to dump where they had before the ground would have to be frozen solid and would probably still be a mess.
These "no work" methods sure are alot of work.
 
Gregory T. Russian
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Location: Mad City, Wisconsin
trees food preservation bee
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Karen Layne wrote:...These "no work" methods sure are alot of work.


There is no free meal - that is for sure.
But there are significant differences still.

Like i said - i grow potatoes without ANY water at all under mulch (just whatever the rain they get).
This is only one difference to get started...
Works for me.
 
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Location: Hudson Valley, NY
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Here's a ruth stout style garden I just started in March

Edit- Pics wont work! Will try again later i guess

 
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