Friday, July 2, 2010

Mulching in color and for free!!!

Thanks to Claude, over at Random Rants and Prickly PLants, I have now heard of Ruth Stout. I got the one copy of any of her books from our county library that they had, and I am so sorry they do not have all of her books! She came up with an easy way to garden, which did not include digging, watering,no added soil amendments, etc. No back busting work at all, really! I think I LOVE her. If she were still alive, I would be planning a visit to meet her and give her a big kiss (if she would accept it). :)

She used hay as a mulch, 8-12 inches deep. No real soil amendments needed. You use your kitchen garbage and any plant material from your yard chopped up into peices...and of course, the hay. She claimed she never had to weed (because no light could get to the soil for weeds to live).

Claude mentioned over on his blog about planting potatoes right on the ground and covering them with leaves or hay and walking away and doing NOTHING, then coming back to a bunch of new potatos a few months later. He actually did it, and can attest to it's effectiveness! If you click on his link at beginning of post, you will be taken to his post about doing it.
See the baby okra coming up in the middle of hibiscus mulch! There is more needed to put down in my garden, but each day I will be adding more!

I went out to the closest feed store to price hay. It is around 10 dollars a bale here, which I would consider fairly expensive. Now, granted, it will last months before breaking down and needing replenishing, but non-the-less, I am cheap!

Today I walked out my front door, and noted my hibiscus bushes are just blooming proliferatively during the summer. I thought...why not collect all the spent blooms and use them for mulch??? Well, I set to it, and now, I honestly believe I may have the most colorful mulch in the country (Oh, goodie...just in time for the holiday)!!!!! LOLOL! Of course, the color will fade quite quickly, but I feel with an everyday walk through my hibiscus trails, I can collect enough new spent blooms to keep my garden mulched for years to come! Forever, really. AND ALL for free!!!

Now, getting back to Ruth Stout. She is awesome, and one of the coolest persons to have ever lived. A bit eccentric (I like that), and very intelligent. I believe she said she had a high school education, and never read a newspaper in her life, nor did she watch the news. These things were not important to her. She was a salt of the earth kind of woman. I would like to think she might have been one of my best friends, if we lived near each other.

I also used leaves from around, my now spent tomato bushes, that I pulled up and cut into 1-2 inch peices, and come other plant cuttings.

I've got to collect my kitchen garbage too, which makes me a little unnerved because with the grandkids, and much less counter space, it will be difficult to collect and keep little hands away or find a place to keep it, period...but I will try. I think it is important. Another thing Ruth said that sticks with me, is that she did not garden according to seasons. She felt that because of her hay mulch, she never had to worry about temperatures, rain, etc. The soil and plants were kept shaded, soil moist and cool. I am intregued by this. I'm not sure it would work in this tropical zone I live in, but, you know what? After reading her book, I don't want to doubt much of anything she wrote about. She knew her stuff about vegetable gardening. I highly recommend reading her books. One book she wrote is called It's a Woman's World, and I will get my hands on it, one way or another!

Above is a baby okra coming up in a swirl of pothos cuttings, which will be snipped into 1 inch peices after it stops raining outside!
Happy holiday to everyone, and hopefully colorful mulching to you all!!!


Claude said...

Ruth Stout was indeed a great lady... at one time Youtube had videos of her working in her garden, but they've been removed due to copyright issues. She was raised a Quaker, and that is probably where her love for the simple way of doing things came from.

If you go to the library again, find old copies of the Mother Earth News... for several years she wrote a column for them. And BTW... Hay is always more expensive than straw... you'd be surprised at how much space one bale of either can cover. And don't forget to rake the grass up when you mow... truly excellent mulch. An

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I hope your colorful mulch works. You must have lots of hibiscus. Have a great weekend yourself.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I don't know what I think about all of this 'new' stuff.... I'm so old-fashioned ---and still love seeing the beautiful gardens along the road as we travel. There are other blog people who are planting things in bales of hay, etc... I'm sure it is fine --and probably easier. But--I'm just old-fashioned... ha ha

Good Luck if you try this...

Happy 4th.

Snippety Gibbet said...

I enjoy composting. I keep a container of discards in one of the refrigerator drawers, since everything rots in those drawers anyway. What I really want is one of those composters with the worms and everything. Might be tricky to have one with the kiddos coming around. jan

Darla said...

i must find her books. i'd like to think she'd be a friend of mine too.

Rainforest Gardener said...

What a good idea! In my swampy backyard I refuse to use store bought mulch because it suffocates the oxygen starved heavy soil. I just like to make a pile of my cut branches, dirt, etc. and cut the branched into smaller chunks. After they've begun to break down I lightly spread it over the garden.
Oh, and I love taking pothos cuttings! I have some chartreuse pothos in my garden (from cuttings last year) that are just now starting to take off!

Candy "Sweetstuff" said...

She does sound like a really great lady with a great concept. And I just love your colorful compost with your withered flowers! Don't forget to put egg shells in your compost.

I am at the beach with Stan's family at Oceanside, CA. Beautiful place, but about a week ago I messed up my back so I can hardly move. It was a long 7 hour drive with me riding in the back, back of our van laying on pillows. LOL. So hopefully as the week goes by I will get out and get some great beach pics.

Julie said...

Candy- I am so sorry to hear about your back! Hope you are feeling better very quickly!

Diane AZ said...

I love this post! I'm a big fan of Stout's since I can't dig but enjoy gardening and mulching.

messyfish said...

Hi Julie I am going to check her out now on my online library catalogue. I used hay and compost( kitchen scraps and lawn clippings) on my vege garden in my house in the city with complete and amazing success. She sounds excellent. I am currently collecting kitchen scraps in s big hole mr messyfish dug in the back garden. 6 weeks worth now! Can't wait till spring. Thanks for the tip!!

messyfish said...

Oh and I meant to say... A think a sultana is called a seedless raisin in the USA.

Pokeberry Mary said...

I enjoyed her book too! I've used my own version of her method for years. I would caution about the tomatoes though--don't use tomato leaves to mulch tomatoes or peppers or potatoes.. I'd use them elsewhere--maybe on ornamental shrubs? They can transmit the sort of diseases you don't want your 'maters to get.
I generally don't even put them in my compost bins, just burn em. :)

yoon see said...

Thank you Julie for your compliment, sorry to be late here.
I see you have so much fun with your plants, grandson, cat.....

Life is so wonderful that we cherish these little wonderful things!

Thanks for being my friend!