Diatomaceous Earth bug killer*
Permies likes organic and the farmer likes Tips for the Ruth Stout method permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login
permies » forums » growies » organic
Bookmark "Tips for the Ruth Stout method" Watch "Tips for the Ruth Stout method" New topic
Author

Tips for the Ruth Stout method

jesse markowitz


Joined: Apr 09, 2012
Posts: 25
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
So last fall I decided to try the Ruth Stout method. I dressed our rows with about 9 inches of leaves, kelp, and a little bit of topsoil mixed with composted cow manure. From time to time I would check in on the pile, and try and keep about a 5 inch layer of mulch on the garden beds. As of now I'd say this method has built about half an inch of humus, and there are now a bunch of earthworms and other bugs running around everywhere, which is pretty encouraging.

HOWEVER

Even though its been pretty warm here for the last few weeks, the piles just aren't warming up. I planted some kale and broccoli and they are clearly suffering from not enough nitrogen. So I took off most of the dry, uncomposted mulch (lots of the leaves are black, slightly gooey, and seem to be pretty close to being humus so I left that) and put down a lot of composted horse manure. I only put the thinnest layer of dry leaves on top of this.

So my question is- how long will it take for this composted horse manure to actually give off nitrogen? Will it kick in significantly within a week or so? That's how long I think my kale and broccoli has.

Also for anyone who has tried the Stout method before- any general tips/suggestions?

I'll try and add pictures if I can obtain a camera.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
My own experience with deep mulch and sheet mulching has been it takes a couple years for the soil to get to the point where plants grow well. This might have to do with the quality of the soil you're starting with. In my case it's humus-deficient heavy clay, and baby plants have a hard time especially if we suddenly get hot sunny weather. Once plants get large they do better, but I'm still losing more seedlings than I'd like. If you can't get hold of a lot of finished compost to start, it might take patience until the soil is sufficiently improved by the sheet mulch.


Idle dreamer

paul sanass


Joined: Mar 18, 2012
Posts: 16
I found that you need to be planting into soil, the mulch becomes soil but it takes a couple of years at least. For me the fact that the deep layer of mulch suppressed the weeds was enough reason to do it, but then the system started working and as the mulch becomes soil very rich in nutrients everything does so much better.

Cheers
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Tyler Ludens wrote:My own experience with deep mulch and sheet mulching has been it takes a couple years for the soil to get to the point where plants grow well. This might have to do with the quality of the soil you're starting with. In my case it's humus-deficient heavy clay, and baby plants have a hard time especially if we suddenly get hot sunny weather. Once plants get large they do better, but I'm still losing more seedlings than I'd like. If you can't get hold of a lot of finished compost to start, it might take patience until the soil is sufficiently improved by the sheet mulch. [/quote

This is what I am experiencing and what I am attributing to rolly polly/slug damage. You have way more rolly pollies than I do based
on your picture you posted. I think it is time for both of us to get our flash lights out and go out in the wee hours and see what is
going on around our seedlings.

I am trying to combine Ruth Stout and Emelia Hazelip's systems. Ruth Stout started things from seed in the garden usually in short rows.
Hazelip had seedlings grown in flats and encouraged volunteers and transplanted them where she wanted them. Growing things out
in flats and trays until they get huge enough to survive in my garden will be a drag at some point. I am really only wanting to do that
on tomatoes because that is kind of a hobby of mine.

I have been getting a mixed bag. Swiss Chard came up fine for me recently and salad mixes spotty. I dare not plant arugula or it will take
over my entire garden. Whatever conditions I have are perfect for that stuff. My sister said recently that her adventures into plants not
usually grown in the south have usually turned out poorly. She opined that the old timers grew what they grew because it does well here.

Bill Mollison got me excited about Scarlet Runner Beans, Emelia Hazilip got me worked up to try calendula. Both on Nasturtium. Runner beans
were pretty but didn't like the heat, the calendula grew but I didn't care for it. Nasturtiums are working out for me after a tough start, I started
roughing up the seeds and soaking them and do very well indeed. So some of this is sorting out over time what works or how to work with
the different plants.


[Thumbnail for IMG_1605.JPG]

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I mainly notice seedlings giving up the ghost in the heat of the day. Things seemed to be doing great before it got hot. But I am willing to concede it might be critters! In which case it's a miracle there are any plants at all......
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Tyler another thing I meant to mention about the Ruth Stout system is attitude. The youtube video of her
planting and tending her garden as a very elderly woman clearly depicts an attitude that I don't currently
have. She says "the weeds grow, so why wouldn't the plants grow?" The "carrots aren't quite normal but
who is normal anyway?" She throws sprouting potatoes on the ground, puts hay on top and declares "planted!"
This is where I am headed, I can sustain that.

She pulls the mulch back, throws the seed down and attempts to pat it a little to get into contact with the
soil. She adds the, now declared evil, cottonseed meal to give the little plants the nitrogen they need to get started.
So she does add nitrogen. You don't like cottonseed meal so use something else. It is hard to sprinkle a little
horse manure in with the seeds but I guess you could.
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Tyler Ludens wrote:I mainly notice seedlings giving up the ghost in the heat of the day. Things seemed to be doing great before it got hot. But I am willing to concede it might be critters! In which case it's a miracle there are any plants at all......


Well the crops you are having issue with are both cold weather type crops. I attempt to grow them
in the fall and avoid them in the spring. Swiss Chard "over summered" for me last year so I planted
some more to see if it will be a year round crop for me.
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
We used to use the Ruth Stout methods in our large gardens, learned it from some elderly neighbors and the granny.Also used Lasagna gardening which is similar layering.Not sure about your location but here in Montana we have to make adjustments for the weather.Being in North Western MT where we get less sunlight and winter .We used to build our beds deeper and more layered with some really hot materials in the fall at clean up.We kind of found our own groove to what worked best for us in our climate.
I don't see any real hot products in your list which could explain.The way I was taught was to lay in a layer of leaves ,old plant matter as a basic weed block.Then to layer in hot compost, which we mixed with 6 month chicken manure for added heat.Then to layer in the hay(I prefer straw).Hay is a green hot product in the compost, that is also what it does in this process.It also comes with weed seeds which if your doing a hot enough mix you will have very few...Our neighbors always layered theirs closer to 18 to 24 inches , which is what I do when using this method ,, then top it off in the spring after planting..So mine would be say 4 to 6 inches of leaves and garden trimmings,followed with 2 inches of compost/manure,6 inches of straw or hay,2 inches topsoil, more leaves more compost, more straw then topped off with compost..In the spring we would plant then add more mulch,,
No horse manure will not kick in with in a week or so it is also a cool manure..manures are not an instant cure they have to process to have the nutrients available...This is a suggestion , try doing some foliage feeding with compost tea or an alfalfa meal tea,, until the plants can utilize the benefits of the manure..This will make it much more available and help the plants with their recoup until it is ..Both broccoli and Kale especially are pretty good at hanging in there so your probably fine..
Mary
of the
Happy House
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Mary what you do is much more than Ruth Stout did. She just covered everything with hay. Her weeding
system was to add more hay. She may have put kitchen scraps here and there under the hay but she kept
it very simple.
P Thickens


Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
Pee on it. As long as you're not taking any drugs which would pass to the garden through the urine. Dilute with water at least 3:1, better is 10:1 or 20:1.

There's your nitrogen and a bunch of other nutrients. Ta-daaaa!
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
Alex,
My understanding has always been she started with her base mulch which incorporated hay as well as some hot additives then added on top of it in place of weeding..In my area it is not quite as feasible to start off a quick easy garden with out the deeper base which is what I used 20 years ago after experimenting with the shallower amounts.It was not enough to support the plants I was growing for the first four years until it built up.We were creating a garden on over the top of about 6 inches of soil on bedrock....Hence building it up more so I could have produce with less work.Once in it was the same process of just adding straw as mulch for weeding and all.The people whom I learned from were from her generation their gardens was amazing but they had been using the methods for 20 years previous to teaching others.
My garden was in an acre and half organic garden which I sold produce from to help support my family.So doing more in the beginning kicked it into a more self supporting environment for the plants I was growing.I tend to look at production since we have always produced 80 to 90 percent of our foods.
Right now we plant in straw bales because we can not use the sheet methods in our garden space. We like simple that has production.
Guess what I am trying to suggest is play with it in your own area and figure out what you need to make it as productive as you wish it to be.
Mary
of the
Happy House
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
I am just talking about what Ruth Stout says she did and I suspect she had good soil.

There is no doubt what you are advocating would yield a better soil and more produce
than just piling on hay. My soil has to be improved it is clay with some great ability to retain
moisture and some good nutrient value. When I first dug into it I felt sick to my stomach because
I came from Mississippi to Georgia. The soil I was familiar with was black and you could work it.

The first season I dug out a trench and replaced all the soil to try to grow a few tomatoes. Now I
am trying to blend other things into the clay. I am sure the clay says something like "tastes like
chicken!" when I add stuff to it. You can dig into an area that should be coming along and find
bright red clay and not a visible trace of any improvement. Thankfully, it does grow things better.
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
LOL good old clay,, I learned to garden the old fashioned way in clay,amend amend amend, many moons ago..have to admit that is why I use other methods that have been handed down for generations in our family and their friends......They patiently waited for me to come back to the easier methods they had taught me.
Where I grew up when it rained and you were walking you could easily grow 3 inches because the grey and brown stuck to your shoes so bad..So I can sympathize ,,
When we teach alternative gardening here at the house we try to stress that each climate is different, just as each micro climate is as well.It is sometimes a challenge to get others to understand you find the way you want to grow and then experiment and tweak it until it works just as you imagine it should..
Sounds like what you have been playing with and finding your to doing.Soil amendments could taste like chicken,, hehehehe, well for all I know,, having a chicken allergy..
Good luck with that clay.We have clay under our straw bale garden and and is the base material which is highly amended in our large perennial/medicinal gardens
Ruth's books are worth the read if just for the giggle her sense of humor was great, but what else would you expect from a naked gardening granny...
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Yes, I am customizing my gardening to my likes and dislikes. Roughly using Ruth Stout and Emilia Hazelip's ideas
with more attention to soil building for the time being. At some point I will quit composting except in the beds just
adding stuff on top usually under the mulch but letting the worms work it in. I planted a couple of pepper seedlings
today and had to move worms out of the way so I could get them in the ground.


[Thumbnail for IMG_1628.JPG]

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Alex Ames wrote: You can dig into an area that should be coming along and find
bright red clay and not a visible trace of any improvement.


I find that here too, I'm adding what feels like and probably actually is, tons of organic material, including logs....not quite to the "grows better" stage yet, merely the "doesn't die" stage, in the older parts of the garden.....

Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Tyler I was looking at the photos of your property and the things you are working on and it looks like your
soil is more brown than mine is. I dug a lot of this out in the winter so I could get a shovel in it. It comes out
in solid blocks like hoop cheese. After I packed the holes with wood and leaves and anything I could find I
a few days would pass and the blocks could be broken up some and put together with compost, manure and
so forth. I have seen giant pine trees grow out of this stuff or else I would have never put it back in the beds.
As I said earlier the clay eats the amendments rubs it's belly and burps.

Worms are active under the mulch and once the plants get established they grow very well. It is just a matter
of giving it time. My older beds are looking richer.
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2


Okay I have never done images here so forgive me if this does not show up...I am not a computer guru,,Lol
This is from last year's summer squash garden.It is composed of rolling out a large round bale of straw out over cardboard.Then a light sprinkling of hot chicken manure to start the break down process a couple of weeks before planting and watering it in real well...
We use seedlings because we deal with slug problems as well as the short growing season.This has no other prep other then at planting we make a hole toss in a handful of compost and the plant and water it up.
If I get the chance I will shoot some pictures of the straw bale break downs over a 3 year period so one can see the soil we end up with in the end.It is loose and black. Before I mulch in all the onions we have in those demo beds.To show the soil base created.
Alex you sound like a man with a plan,,Personally I think it is good for anyone who is going into gardening to learn the challenge of clay and sand based gardens.You learn some great concepts and skills that way..Of course you also learn that physically clay is just one heck of a challenge,,
Mary
                        


Joined: Jan 01, 2011
Posts: 40
Location: Berkeley,CA
Alex Ames wrote:Tyler I was looking at the photos of your property and the things you are working on and it looks like your
soil is more brown than mine is. I dug a lot of this out in the winter so I could get a shovel in it. It comes out
in solid blocks like hoop cheese. After I packed the holes with wood and leaves and anything I could find I
a few days would pass and the blocks could be broken up some and put together with compost, manure and
so forth. I have seen giant pine trees grow out of this stuff or else I would have never put it back in the beds.
As I said earlier the clay eats the amendments rubs it's belly and burps.


Alex, you should think about putting away the shovel and investing in a digging fork. Before you go about your preferred mulching method go through the area and loosen it well with the digging fork. In my experience gardening in the grey, silty clay of coastal, CA a lot of the nutrient loss you are describing comes from runoff because the good stuff can't penetrate the compacted clay. Once clay does get a hold of nutrients and amendments it won't let go, which is a good thing, and as long as you give the good stuff a pathway into the soil you can make that happen.

In smaller, more intensive plots I (when the soil is dry) have had success doing a one time tilling in of some texture improving amendment like finely chopped straw, lava rock, really really coarse sand, cotton seed/rice hulls, etc. and then going ahead with the sheet mulch. I usually do this in the fall and let it rest for the winter so its ready to plant in spring. Good luck with your clay adventures y'all, definitely a challenge
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Eric my plan was to get the beds mounded up and keep them covered and let the worms
do the work from then on. I have not been able to stick to that plan. I find myself continuing
to try to help it along. I think I will take your advice and loosen everything up before I put it
to bed this fall.

jesse markowitz


Joined: Apr 09, 2012
Posts: 25
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
I wanted to resurrect this thread with a bunch of pictures of my project, but I do not have a camera nice enough to do my garden justice.

That being said, using the Ruth Stout method this year has been a big success. If you are thinking about trying it, try it. I didn't initially realize how cognizant I had to be with proper C:N ratios, but once that was taken care of our fairly small plot (20' by 30') has been producing about $100 of produce weekly, and has needed about a half hour of work a week, most of which is picking. I haven't weeded all summer, and I've watered 4 times. There's been little issue with pests. At first we had a bit of an aphid problem, but after a bit crickets came in and ate up most of those. And now we have a couple of garter snakes that take care of the crickets.

It's really so so simple, so I'd figure I'd just bring this up again in case anyone has been on the fence with this method.

Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Jesse I appreciate you bringing this thread back up. We have had a growing season since
the last post. Somebody having success at what I am trying to do is somebody I want to
talk to.

I sat on the screen porch with my wife this afternoon and we watched clouds roll in from the
west and soon there was a torrential downpour. The garden just soaked it up. The mulch holds
everything in place. It is a very stable looking environment without runoff. Conventional gardeners
around here don't mulch and in a rain like that there would be red rivers leaving their gardens.

Ruth Stout was from up in your part of the country and her methods perhaps work better up there
than they do in the South. I am curious if you have had issues with seedlings disappearing as they
emerge.


Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2092
Location: FL
    
  49
I tried a simplified version of the method this year. Over the course of a month I was able to get 150ish seed potato from a 50 pound sack. For some, I dug a hole about as deep as a spade, threw down a potato. For others, I tossed them on the ground, grass be damned. Then covered everything with a few inches of leaves. Being the drought was still going on, I watered the hell out of the sites as often as I could. From time to time I added more leaves, rotted leaves, mower clippings, whatever was available to give the heaps better cover. It was my busy time of the year so drought and neglect took its toll. At one point, my bull got out and ate most of the garden crops, took out about a third of the potato plants. By June, what was left was dried up and spindly. I dug some here and there to find I rarely got my seed back. This is 2 years in a row of nothin. I threw in the towel.

Last month the rains returned with TS Debbie. I looked down this last week to find some of these potato plants are coming back. In north Florida, potatoes can be grown in the spring and again in the fall, so there is still some hope.

Watching the Ruth Stout clips, I notice she has been doing things her way for years. That hay she keeps putting down is in every stage of decomposition from fresh to unrecognizable. There is something for every level of creature from bug to worm to bacteria to fungi. Its not just the amount of time it takes to get the planting area into shape, its regular effort, and regular addition of new material which keeps the cycle going. I've been adding material to the growing areas for a couple years now. Some of the potatoes went into new spots, some into old spots. The older spots did better-I got my seed back whereas the new spots were just potato vines.

Stick with it.


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Ken it seems to me that at some point conditions will get right if I stick with it. In the mean time
I have no runoff except from mounded beds into the paths. Nothing is leaving the garden. There
is no weed problem to deal with and what grows does grow well. I have some perennial herbs
and flowers throughout the garden. It is a nice place to be and it is producing a wide variety of
vegetables in a small space. I want the volume to increase so I can be more generous with friends
and neighbors. So, yes I am sticking with it and adjusting as I go.

I need to do something different on planting from seed. I have tried what it says on the seed packet
and also shallower and deeper, all with so so germination. Then suddenly, even that is gone or nearly gone.
This was never a problem for me using traditional methods. So once I get that sorted out I will be able
to say, Yes, this is the way to garden.
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
I am trying to transition into fall and get some things going in pockets around what is still going strong. If I pull back the
mulch and plant what should be a small patch of something I am winding up with a plant or a few plants instead. It should
work but it isn't at this point. Germination is weak and somebody is eating even some of that.


[Thumbnail for IMG_1687.JPG]

J W Richardson


Joined: Aug 04, 2012
Posts: 44
Location: Council, ID
I started a new garden this spring using mulch plus a single sheet of brown paper on turf. I had some yellowing on the hot weather crops that disappeared once the weather warmed up. I used mostly composted sheep bedding, plus uncomposted sheep bedding, straw, and hay, with a depth of about a foot. Very little grass came through,and that was in the area where I used the uncomposted bedding. I applied it to frozen ground, not by choice, but perhaps looking back that could be why there was such a complete kill of the underlying quack turf.

Overall, it has been the best garden ever. I am trying a living mulch of clover, not sure about it. I like having it, things seem healthy and less heat stressed, but am finding rodents and harvesting a row of onions was a pain - I couldn't pull them through the clover and was cutting them when scalping the clover off the bed (I am trying to keep the roots intact for soil structure while scalping the crowns off to [prepare the bed for replanting). I frost seeded the clover into the surrounding turf and it has definitely out competed the quack surrounding the garden, so less hassle keeping that at bay, but it requires overhead watering in order to do so.

One photo shows what the surrounding garden area is like and what the garden area was like this time last year. This is the firsttime I have tried to attach photos, so please forgive if they aren't there...



[garden 2012 Sept 3 010.jpg]

[garden 2012 Sept 3 004.jpg]

J W Richardson


Joined: Aug 04, 2012
Posts: 44
Location: Council, ID
It worked, but left one off -


[garden 2012 Sept 3 009.jpg]

Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 348
    
    1
Eric The Red wrote:
Alex Ames wrote:Tyler I was looking at the photos of your property and the things you are working on and it looks like your
soil is more brown than mine is. I dug a lot of this out in the winter so I could get a shovel in it. It comes out
in solid blocks like hoop cheese. After I packed the holes with wood and leaves and anything I could find I
a few days would pass and the blocks could be broken up some and put together with compost, manure and
so forth. I have seen giant pine trees grow out of this stuff or else I would have never put it back in the beds.
As I said earlier the clay eats the amendments rubs it's belly and burps.


Alex, you should think about putting away the shovel and investing in a digging fork. Before you go about your preferred mulching method go through the area and loosen it well with the digging fork. In my experience gardening in the grey, silty clay of coastal, CA a lot of the nutrient loss you are describing comes from runoff because the good stuff can't penetrate the compacted clay. Once clay does get a hold of nutrients and amendments it won't let go, which is a good thing, and as long as you give the good stuff a pathway into the soil you can make that happen.

In smaller, more intensive plots I (when the soil is dry) have had success doing a one time tilling in of some texture improving amendment like finely chopped straw, lava rock, really really coarse sand, cotton seed/rice hulls, etc. and then going ahead with the sheet mulch. I usually do this in the fall and let it rest for the winter so its ready to plant in spring. Good luck with your clay adventures y'all, definitely a challenge



Eric I have done as you suggested. I didn't have to invest in a fork, just start using the one I have!
This summer the temperatures hit 105+ plus for almost a week and it was generally hot and dry and
my heavily mulched garden was hard as a rock. I started working around my plants where I could with
the fork and had the good fortune of that work being followed by a large rain. The beds I have gotten to
the fork will go all the way to the hilt with one hand. I have not turned the soil, just loosened it. Worm
activity is excellent in those areas.
 
 
subject: Tips for the Ruth Stout method
 
Similar Threads
What to fill a raised bed with???
grow tomatoes without irrigation or fertilizer
killer compost? please help
Creative watering techniques?
Concerning sawdust
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books