A treasure-trove of organic gardening know-how.
She has the most amazing theories about using bales of straw to grow your plants through, or to mulch at least several inches on everything.
Mulch Queen' Ruth Stout and her labor-saving, soil-improving, permanent garden mulching technique is what earned her lasting fame.
Non-gardeners - if you read this book you may be encouraged to start.
-if this man had what it takes to put prejudice aside and really give mulching a try, he would find that on cold nights all he would need to do would be to toss the hay, lying there handy, onto his plants. -twice a season, or possibly three times, i go down my cabbage-family row and sprinkle a little salt from a shaker on each plant. -this watering would not be necessary if you had mulch on your garden all winter and spring. mulch not only conserves moisture but prevents weeds, which, during time of drought, are particularly harmful for they use up the moisture which vegetables need so badly. -mulching keeps the ground cooler than it would be otherwise, conserves the moisture, prevents the soil from baking, thus providing better aeration, and keeps the weeds from growing and robbing the vegetables and flowers from the nourishment and water which they need. but when used on top the way you use them, i have never seen a nitrogen shortage as a result of the mulch. of course, if there was not enough nitrogen in the soil in the first place the mulch materials do not add any for at least a long time, so they would not help a shortage, nor add to it. '(chemical) fertilization will continue because its the only practical way of satisfying the nutrition requirements of these crops where a soil deficiency occurs. i keep hay and leaves on my garden all year round; these rot and nourish the soil. when i saw 'experts' taking the trouble to convince growers that they must use chemical fertilizers, and are stooping to name calling, i think "so enough people are going in for organics to get the 'experts' nervous! he didnt seem to know (or just didnt want to admit) that in a plot which is well supplied with humus, the earthworms do an efficient aerating job." -using the mulch method, one learns that neither a chemical nor organic fertilizer is needed. -people arrive with doubts in their minds about no plowing, but when they see a garden which hasnt been plowed for 25 years producing many fine crops in soft rich earth, they believe. organic gardening is ok, but if theres too much organic matter in your nasturtium soil, you'll only get leaves, no flowers. - so skip the bluebells, and plant nasturtiums in poor soil with mulch on top. but that cage is worth that much to me, for i can now grow corn the rest of my life without having to fight the raccoons anymore.' -having laid the seed potatoes, i cover the rows with six or eight inches of hay, and do nothing more until several weeks later. being virtually a powder, it readily penetrates down thru the hay, and provides the best nourishment for the plants as their roots develop. -concentrate on feeding your soil instead of trying to feed your plants. -narrow rows with wide aisles between them merely waste space in the home garden without fulfilling any useful purpose. -the old saying that the right time to start a garden is last year applies to the stout system more than others, and the best results cannot be expected before the third year. but in addition to the weed control, moisture preservation, and other merits of summer mulch, the stout system, once established, transfers the work of tilling, hoeing, cultivating, and fertilizing from the gardener to natural processes.
I don't know if Ruth invented this method herself, but this book is the earliest I could find to read about mulching and feeding your garden from the top down.
Stout moved to New York when she was 18 and was employed at various times as a nurse, bookkeeper, secretary, business manager, and factory worker. Ruth continued to use her maiden name as her pen name and Rossiter as her official name.