Experiment: Hay Potatoes and Ruth Stout

My Little Potato Patch!

I’ve been reading about growing potatoes in hay. I know people who have done it. I’ve even tired it—and failed! In the last article I read about the method, the guy layered spoiled hay with goat manure in it and potatoes and some dirt in a trench. Since I am sheet mulching a new bed in the front yard, I don’t have a lot of chicken yard hay—partially composted straw and chicken manure—available.  I decided to use some spoiled hay and unscreened compost instead. I figure I can layer on some more organic material as it becomes available.

This way of growing potatoes is not new. Ruth Stout wrote about growing whole gardens this way back in the 1950s and earlier. (There is a video of Ruth in her 90s talking about her life, garden method, and planting potatoes on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9ReIotPNVM .)

Most of the stuff I am reading now is just repackaged Ruth Stout and her Mulch Gardening Method. She would say, “My Garden Is My Compost Pile!”  Rodale published one of her books in the 1970s entitled The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book, and Cornerstone republished her How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back at about that time as well. She has a great down-to-earth conversational writing style and a fine sense of humor. I enjoy rereading her work and find myself gardening more like she did every year as my back gets crankier and my gardens get bigger.

Mother Earth Magazine has a nice article on Ruth Stout  http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2004-02-01/Ruth-Stouts-System.aspx you might find interesting.  Here are a few more: http://vaughnshire.com/gardening/organic-gardening-with-the-ruth-stout-hay-mulch-method/ and http://www.homestead.org/barbaraBambergerScott/RuthStout/RuthStout%20-TheNo-DigDuchess.htm

I hope you enjoy reading and watching Ruth and perhaps trying out her method this growing season. She was quite a grand gal. I hope I am doing and gardening when I am her age! Begonia

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