Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No Work Gardening Is it a myth? I'm going to find out

I’ve been reading up on my weeds. I’ve decided that I’d better own them if I’m ever going to figure out how to eliminate them. My biggest problems are pigsweed, purslane and crab grasses. Ignoring them certainly doesn’t make them go away. I swear I’ve pulled a hundred thousand weeds so far this summer and they are still coming on strong.

Yesterday, I dusted off my copy of No Work Gardening by Ruth Stout (published in 1971). This is really awesome book and I could kick myself for relegating it to the back of the bookshelf under a stack of Sunset Magazines. The simplicity of Ruth’s suggested method of weed control/soil protection is really encouraging. In a nut shell Ruth advocated covering your soil with 8 inches or so of compostable materials (straw, leaves, chips, grass clippings ect.) No compost pile, just compost everything in place. If weeds pop up you would just through some more straw down to smother them. I’ve read another book called Lasagna Gardening which offers similar advice. It may sound to good to be true but I think I’ll give it a try. I’ve recently discovered that if I use rice straw for mulch then I don’t get all of the hay seeds popping up everywhere like I do when I use the other kinds of straw mulch. I plan to pick up 6 or 7 bales this weekend and cover the garden with it. It may look a mess, but if it keeps the weeds from taking over then who cares right? I actually think that straw mulch looks very nice and natural. It is much better than hard cracked soil with patches of weeds. Another benefit to adding the mulch will be better water retention. If I can cut down watering to once a week then I am willing to live with straw everywhere.


AJK said...

I've heard of the super mulching method before too, I think in Permaculture books... but I'm in the city, and it's hard to find hay! So right now I'm mulching with extra zucchini leaves and such. I hope it's not going to come back and bite me in the butt with pest/disease problems for the squash family!

pelenaka said...

Purslane sells for about $4.99 a small bunch here in Western New York. Higher in beta-carotene than spinach*, as well as high levels of magnesium and potassium.
Cook as you would greens. Unfortunetly the minute I realized this weed was edible it stopped growing like a weed on my homestead.