[Market-farming] humus-intensive, soil building contacts

Matt Cheselka mcheselka at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 30 19:47:41 EST 2005

  I hope you've heard of or already read Ruth Stout's books.  If not, you'd probably find a kindred soul.  A concept like "not watering" is nearly impossible for me here in the desert southwest, where we're lucky to get 15 inches a year.  Normally our rainfall is 10-12 inches.  Even then, it's "rainy" only maybe 4 months a year: July and August, and then again December and January.  This fall, for instance, we haven't seen a drop of rain since September.
  The only solution available to me is fairly heavy mulching (4-5 inches) and drip irrigation is *required*.  Of course a good humus-laden soil also helps quite a bit.
  I do have plans to build a simple rain collection and storage system to collect about half of the water I need over the course of a year.
  So besides that, I really really like Ruth Stout's methods.  I agree that "weeds" may not be as unwelcome as they've been made out to be.
  Matt Cheselka
  Cosmic Lettuce

Russ and Rosie <russandrosie at comcast.net> wrote:
  I agree with the rest. This would be of intense interest to me.
In case anyone is interested, here is my method (I call it the "Lazy 
Gardener" method):
I don't weed or water. (In the Pacific NW we get enough rain) I 
admittedly have a small garden, but I think my method would work on a 
larger scale.
I put down organic matter in the fall/early winter, mostly hay. Then, in 
the spring, I move aside any residual matter and plant. I get a lot of 
weeds, but they don't seem to affect the plant growth. They can be 
smothered with hay or knocked over out of the way or left where there are. 
(This is similiar to the Lasagna Method.) Apparently the weeds actually 
help out by keeping the soil loose, encouraging diverse insect life, and 
drawing moisture (and minerals) up from deeper in the ground. Then they 
provide organic material and important minerals when they decompose under a 
layer of hay. (Grass is an entirely different matter. Grass is not our 
For more information on weeds as friends see the publication "Weeds -- 
Guardians of the Soil" by J.A. Cocannouer.
Last year I had 15 tomato plants in my greenhouse. They were the sweetest 
most delicious tomatoes I've grown yet. I put food scraps in a big hole, 
set in the plant, buried most it with dirt, surrounded them with a thick 
layer of straw, erected the cage, watered them once and walked away. I 
returned only to harvest. (My greenhouse is in a small valley, so its 
water table is higher than usual.)
I have never had any pest or disease problems in the greenhouse or in the 
fields. I think due to the more natural way of managing the soil. Perhaps 
we try too hard as farmers. Maybe less is more.
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