Organic Gardening with the Ruth Stout Hay Mulch Method

I ran across Ruth Stout last year when a friend of mine (Thanks, Sherry) apologizing gave me a video about Ruth Stout. I say apologizing because Ruth Stout was a bit quirky and odd in some of her thinking and practices. Despite that fact, there is a wealth of gardening knowledge that one can gain from her. Ruth Stout was an amazing organic gardener that taught organic mulch method gardening. She claimed it was the No Dig/No Work organic gardening method that produced a good garden, good soil without plowing, without chemical fertilizers and without weed poisons.

After using her mulch gardening method last year, I have to say that I am sold on hay mulch gardening. We didn’t spend hours and hours of back breaking work weeding the garden last year. We also hardly watered our garden all summer long. The mulch kept the ground moist and the weeds a bay. The weeds that did spring up were easily covered up with more mulch or pulled up easily because they were unable to develop deep roots.

I’m a real country girl now.  Last year we bought some old rotten looking hay for $7 a big round bale for the garden.  It was a happy moment in my life driving home with all that old rotten hay in the back of our trailer! 

Here are a few interesting articles on her:

Ruth Stout System

Ruth Stout, The No-Dig Dutchess

You can watch the Ruth Stout gardening video called Ruth Stout’s Garden on You Tube here! It is a 3 part series.

8 comments for “Organic Gardening with the Ruth Stout Hay Mulch Method

  1. Sue C
    April 30, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Hi Maellen,
    We also live in New Mexico, two years ago my daughter dug trenches in the pure limestone behind her house, laid bales of hale in  the trenches, planted potatoes in the bales and watered with only rinse water from washing dishes.  The girl has a brown thumb I will assure you. Somehow – in New Mexico with that little bit of water – she managed to give the potatoes blight. Last year, with even less water she managed a pretty decent crop of potatoes, and no, the hay does not blow around, it holds the moisture very well.
    We are looking for some Alfalfa bales to mulch with ourselves this year!
    Happy Gardening

  2. Halley's Mommy
    August 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for consolidating these Ruth Stout links.

  3. March 31, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I found a book by Ruth Stout at Good Will last year, and we implemented some of her methods. I agree; it made gardening much easier and more enjoyable!

  4. March 10, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Thank you for this great tip! I will try it this year. Living in New Mexico, everything dries out SO quickly! AND we still get tons of weeds! I’m looking forward to this method! (Does the hay blow around a whole bunch? We have a small yard in the suburbs, where we do our best to grow veggies in various corners of the yard, front and back. I wouldn’t want to upset the neighbors by having my hay blow all over their yards.) Thanks!

    • Virginia P.
      May 2, 2010 at 5:27 am

      Hey, Maellen!  I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here a little bit.  I just found this blog, and your question is right up my alley.

      Hay doesn’t tend to blow around much, especially if it’s damp, but little bits may scatter.   If a few stray wisps are no trouble, then you’re fine.  If you need your mulch to stay 100% contained, then you may want to cover the hay (or at least it’s edges) with an agricultural cloth like AG19. 

      AG19 is genius stuff!  It lets almost all of the sun and rain through, but moderates their impact so tender plants don’t get scorched or bruised. 

      I’ve done the Ruth Stout method in various gardens for years.  It really does work, and is the only way a lazy person like me could ever have a garden!

  5. Holly
    March 10, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I have never heard of Ruth Stout, but last year we did this same method. We heard about it from an old gardener that gave free classes on gardening at our local library. I am hooked! I found the same thing, far, far less weeds and the ones that did manage to peak through had very shallow roots and were so easy to pluck! Eureka!! And my life will never be the same 😉

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