Fast, Easy, Low Labor Garden Bed, Inspired by Ruth Stout
I wrote previously in my post on deep mulch about Ruth Stout, and her gardening methods. This time I’ll give a step by step how-to on creating a Ruth Stout style bed. In her “No-Work Garden Book” she makes mention several times of establishing new beds with potatoes. Well it just so happens that today I received my order of spuds, sourced locally, well somewhat locally. Who knew that importing seed potatoes into Idaho was going to be such a hassle. It turns out there is special certification required to ship spuds into the “Famous Potatoes” state. I ordered my seed stock from a producer in South Eastern Idaho… so sorta local. Any way, back to Ruth.
For the newly indoctrinated, the Ruth Stout method of gardening leans heavily on mulch, lots of mulch. She did not till the soil, didn’t advocate amending the soil, and composted any weeds in place. Her preferred method of weed control was, you guessed it, mulch. If some weeds poked their heads through the mulch, on went a big ole arm full of mulch. Her preferred mulch material was straw, but hay, wood chips, wool, old clothes, whatever could be had in plenty and cheep could be used.
For my little potato patch I would lay down cardboard, then a layer of hay, then a layer of straw on top of that. To plant the potatoes you just cut a hole in the cardboard, set the spud on the dirt, and cover with hay, then straw. That it no tilling, no hilling, no weeding. Just water, pile up more straw, then harvest. Admittedly this is not the most productive method for growing potatoes, but it requires very little work, and you end up with a well rotted and prepared garden bed for next season. So you get a harvest out of the bed while you are establishing it. Beautiful soil and some taters to boot!