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Old 07-21-2013, 01:03 PM
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I have been gardening for decades now and have become much lazier, yet more effective and productive in my gardening due to no till gardening. I have a really bad back, so decades ago I adopted a modified Ruth Stout system of gardening and have adjustied it over the years and in different growing climates. I just keep adding layers of goodies, let them compost in place and plant right on top in a little row or hole filled with a little older compost.
Many seeds or starts I don't even do that, I pull back the composting mulch a little and just stick them in. The theory is that by not disturbing the soil (tilling and turning over) you keep a healthy balance of the good and bad bacterias and fungi plus the beneficials don't get disturbed.

I hardly have to do any work in my beds, and they produce like crazy, and have been doing this for decades in all kinds of growing climates (we moved a lot).

So, I am curious if any other old timers here have developed a similar gardening protocol and would share their experiences and any tips they've learned. My experiences have been great--and I spend a lot less time than most of my gardening friends in maintenance with weeding, watering, diseases, soil amending, etc.
So I am curious why this style of gardening hasn't been as popular--perhaps because the no till garden doesn't look as neat and uniform as a tilled garden? Or maybe there are problems with it I have just not encountered.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:14 PM
Location: Hot Springs
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I am not at the "no till" stage yet, but I am moving in that direction. I had someone thatch my lawn this spring and kept the thatch in a pile behind my shed. Later when I had my vegetable garden planted, I spread the partially composted thatch on top of the seeds and around the plants. It worked great as far as production is concerned. This years garden is easily out producing anything I have done before. A small downside is that I also produced a lot of crabgrass. This not a major problem because it is very easy to pull weeds out of compost. I want to do something similar next year, but I need a larger source of compost.

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Old 07-21-2013, 02:59 PM
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I'm not doing no-till either. It takes too long for the earthworms to move everything around. I do more of a modified lazy-person's till, though. I stick a spade fork in the ground, rock it back and forth, dump compost or other organic material so that it slides into the holes, and then I remove the fork.
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Old 07-21-2013, 06:13 PM
Location: Former LI'er Now a Rehoboth Beach Bunny
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Perhaps instead of starting an new thread one of you kind people can answer this relative to the first post. I am new here in DE. The ground is full of clay, and rock hard. Hubby tried to get a shepherds hook into the ground for me because I couldn't, he is strong but it is still about 3 inches above the ground level and that was using a hammer after digging.!!!!

When we have heavy rain the water sits in pools until our new French drain can handle the crazy rain (last week 7 inches in less than 4 hours and today 3 inches in 2 hours.) So my question, can a Ruth Stout type garden work for me? I have a ton of things going on "inside" so the outside was going to have to wait until spring but maybe this is a better idea and I should reconsider.
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Old 07-22-2013, 11:46 AM
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I can sympathize!
When I lived in the southwest we had hard pan clay, and I gave up trying to dig it loose in any way, so I did straw bale gardening on top and it worked without having to loosen the clay. The bales are held together by string, so have a form to them that stays together and you can create a series in rows or as raised beds wherever you want them.

After the first year, when the straw bales were broken down that fall, they were still about a foot above the ground and I added goodies (compost, manure, alfalfa hay without seeds, grass clippings, some cheap bags of topsoil, etc) on top plus some worms and they functioned just like raised beds the next year. I was even able to grow half-long carrots in the beds as they were raised about 18 inches off the clay.

Important for no till and lazy gardening--always check that your straw, alfalfa hay,mulch is as seed-free as possible. You can often tell by looking at the chaff around the bales when you get it. But as mentioned above, it is really easy to pull weeds with no till beds.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:51 AM
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I tried no-till flower bed earlier this Spring and it is working out well. I also used a variation of Ruth Stout method lasagna gardening using packing cardboards as the first layer. The perennials survived well. Last week I planted some basil & sweet potato and we'll see if they survive.
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