Has anyone here tried her all mulch, no till gardening technique? I did this year and can say it worked well for asperagus, potatoes,onions, squash, tomatoes and peppers. Just wonder if anyone else has done this and what the results were.
I did it the first year we were here because we moved in June and I had no time (or tiller) to put in a traditional garden.
It worked very well..especially for the tomatoes and the corn.
However... we have a serious pillbug/sowbug/roly-poly problem in our yard adn I have found that I just cannot mulch at all.
If it were not for the millions, and I kid you not..the ground just crawls with them all summer long even the gravel driveway, of those bugs I would do it all the time!
Any method that uses heavy mulching in the rainy pacific northwest is doomed - just becomes a hideout and safe haven for slugs. In areas that are drier and do not have these voracious pests - go for it!
I have done her methods to a degree, but I've had to switch a lot of the garden area (about an acre and a half) to other methods. I'm plagued by low soil fertility, high weed density, and too much labor for too little time.
Her methods work, in certain soils and in certain conditions. Each year I set aside a small portion of the garden (about 500' square feet) for one or two new gardening methods that I've read about. I keep and adopt the techniques that work and discard the ones that don't. Much of Ruth Stout's methodology got discarded, or rather put on hold until such future time as I'm only growing 1/8th of what I do now and have increased the soil fertility accordingly.
I've mulched and not tilled for a couple years now. Slugs can be a problem, I hand pick and feed them to the ducks in early spring and it seems to take care of the problem for most of the season. I did catch a really huge (I'm talking THUMB sized here) slug moving into the garden one morning. Here ducky, ducky. Slurp. No more slug.
It is a good method unless you have perennial crops (asparagus, rhubarb, herbs) in the garden. I tend to forget they are there and dump buckets of manure on them, suffocating the poor plants. I am in the process of relocating the perennials. It is so nice to take a flat of plants out and use just your hand or a trowel to plant them. The only thing where I had a problem was small seeds like radish and carrot. They had to be planted where I had dumped the old rabbit bedding (sawdust and poo/pee) just so the little seeds could sprout. I have also planted little seeds where I have dumped out last years containers. All they need is enough "soil" to get started, then they can spread their roots in the mulch/manure layers. I still have this springs kale going strong out there. And a little broccoli plant that never did form a head now had one.
As a huge bonus, the need to water is greatly reduced. We had very little rain all summer and I watered only a few times.
I've mulched heavy the last several years but worked it in after the 1st freeze. Last year just about 4" deep. This year I don't plan on tilling much if any. Most will be left. If I do anything I will use the subsoiler 10-12" deep. I have more worms and my soil looks great since I've reduced tillage and increased the mulch. I haven't had any weed problems since I started with the mulch. I've mulched the asparagus beds for several years. And they are doing great. I just add a little manure and compost on top then cover with mulch. I usually wait till the cold kills it for the winter and it is dry. Then mow the top growth off and add the manure. My plan for row crops is to pull the mulch back like Ruth did and plant my seeds and add any fertilizer I want and as the plants grow throw mulch back around them. For my onions and sweet corn going to pull it back soon and make trenches with my push plow and fill them with manure and mix in cottonseed meal. And let set all winter. Then plant between these trenches next spring. Here it has cut my watering by 60-70%. And the plants seem to do better. Although I have 2 acres my garden is around 5,000 sq. ft.. Used to be a lot of work till I started mulching. I did this before I ever heard about the Ruth Stout method. Some of the reasons it may work well here is I have deep sandy soil and it can be dry and hot here.
I have been using Ruth Stout's methods for about 30 years on most of my garden and the results are great. Slugs are the only real problem and they are taken care of nicely with platters of beer placed among the rows.
What has helped TREMENDOUSLY for me with the bug problem in the mulch is...in the late fall I turn in a few chickens....and again in the the very early spring.....my pillbug and slug populations, and cutworm, wireworms too I might add....are severly cut down when I do that. When I get lazy and don't I regret it all growing season! Plus the mulch gets all fluffed up and any tiny weeds that may be trying to germinate get snapped up as well. My garden is fenced with cattle panels and then lined up 12" with chicken wire. That keeps the chickens IN when I want them in and yet OUT when it's growing season and I don't want their "HELP".
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