Transformational Gardening

May 2009 Garden Experiences

(Forward to: June 2009 Gardening Experiences)

May 26, 2009

Lucky me! I called at the right time and I was able to get a 25' x 50' plot of land at the local community gardens! Typically, there a very long waiting list, but the State had opened up new plots of land and assigned them to people on the waiting list. Fortunately, someone of the waiting list had cancelled shortly before I called. Thanks to Jen for suggesting I call!

May 28, 2009

On the right is a picture before cultivation. It appears my plot had been used for off-road 4-wheeling!

It is almost June and I havn't even started planting! So, the next step is to decide how I was going to grow the food. There is no question that the garden will be organic (no use of toxic pesticides/herbicides, no genetically manipulated crops). In the late 1970's I had read a book entitled, "The One Straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka. The author described his building on the organic farming movement by developing what he called Natural Farming. He developed a highly-successful, large-scale farming technique that included no cultivation/tilling, no weeding, no pesticides and no fertilizer. His crops are cultivated with certain weeds that can co-exist with the crops, keeping other weeds away and helping to prevent infestations. Please see the Natural Farming link to find out more about this pioneering method.

Unfortunately, Natural Farming involves some planning and cultivation of appropriate weeds that can co-exist with food crops. That takes time I don't have. Got to get those crops planted! So, after some research and purchasing of books, I settled on another no-till, no weeding organic method know as the Ruth Stout Method. It involves very heavy mulch of hay, straw, leaves and possibly other organic material to transform the health of the soil over time and keep the weeds down. I read numerous positive reviews online from gardeners who had used the Ruth Stout Method for years.

The Ruth Stout Method avoids the need for tilling the soil every year, but I decided that my plot was such a mess that I would till it the first year.

May 30, 2009

Oh my God! I started out very excited about digging up by shovel my 25' x 50' plot. After the first hour, I was tired. In two hours I was exhaused and my back hurt -- and I had barely done 1/5 of the plot!

Shortly after I started digging, the owner of the plot next drove by in his truck carrying his rototiller. He offered to rototill my plot for only $15. But I was still naive and thought it would just be a few hours of fun exercise. After a couple of hours, he was still standing by his trucking watching me struggle and I imagined he was waiting for me to scream, "Oh Hell! Just rototill the !@*!(##!! plot!" But when challenged (even an imaginary challenge), I do not give up!

May 31, 2009

So, after about 12 hours of digging, I finished digging, hoeing and raking up the !@*!(##!! plot! I am so glad that I won't have to till the soil in subsequent seasons! The soil quality seems to be mediocre at best. Only saw a few earthworms. But after feeding the soil with straw and leaf mulch, I think it can only get better.

The picture shows my first purchase of straw for mulch. I looked on Craigslist and there were several people within 50 miles selling bales of straw for $7 / bale. But according to the Ruth Stout Method, I would need about 10 to 12 bales for the size of plot I have. So, I found a nearby garden supply store that was selling them for $8.95 / bale, but I was close enough that I could make several trips stuffing them in the back of my little Rav4 (4 bales per trip).

Continue to
June 2009 Garden Experiences