Sunday, August 24, 2008

Composting is for sissies

I have been reading a book written in 1955; but its message is very timely. It is called "How to have a Green Thumb without an Aching back" by Ruth Stout. It's really hard to fact I bought mine at a yard sale about 15 or 16 years ago for a dime.

In the book, Ruth talks about buying a 55 acre farm with her husband in the early 1930s. She tackles a huge space for a garden and basically wears herself to a frazzle every day trying to keep up.

I have read this book many times and still seem to glean new knowledge from it.

I have clung to my compost pile for years...and it's never really finished, nor have I gotten anything from it...I just keep piling garden and veggie scraps in.

We have some resident Raccoons and they knocked my compost bin flat last night. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last...and strangely enough I just finished Ruth Stout's book again...

So today, instead of dumping the contents of my bowl on top that disaster of a pile, I lifted the straw mulch that covers my garden and poured the contents underneath. Then I tucked the mulch back into place and voila it was perfect.

I am no longer going to make a compost pile. I am going to 'layer compost' on the spot in my garden from now on.

If you lack straw, you can use shredded leaves, or mulch, or even some topsoil. Just scratch the soil enough to have a place to put your compost items and cover with something. Worse comes to worse...tuck under the edges of the Zucchini.

Apparently RS mulched this way for 12 years before she wrote that book...and she seemed pretty happy with it.

Oh and did I mention - she stopped tilling, weeding, fertilizing, and using any pesticides when she started mulching.

The only fertilizer I use is organic (horse poo etc), and no chemicals EVER enter my garden - and we practiced the no till method this year. Our mulch needs to be thicker because I have had a few weeds, but not many!!

So, yeah, composting is for sissies. Do it layer style :)


mermaid said...

Sounds like a book I just checked out at the library - "Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding" by Patricia Lanza. I highly recommend it, as it promises to make gardening much easier. This book is widely available.

Heather said...

I actually have another one of her books called Lasagna Gardening for Herbs. It is a wealth of info! I didn't know she had a garden book too...I will definitely get it next time I am at the library.

cristele said...

Hi there,
I listened to this interview about this guy growing his entire farm on layered compost...he was saying he lives from his farm very well, thank you, and -check this out!- he was off for 15 days in the Bahamas...the journalist was asking:"what about your crop?" he said "Well, I put enough layers, the crop doesn't need me at all"..."but...what about birds...insects...?" "Nah."

Milkweed said...

Viva Ruth Stout! Have you seen "Gardening Without Work for the Aging, the Busy and the Indolent" - another of her books, and what a great title! Here's an article about her that I found interesting:

I still compost in bins AND use a version of her layering method - we have a humanure bin and a food compost/yard waste bin...and lots of layers of mulch...but I can definitely second your endorsement of no-till/no-dig.