With the Ruth Stout technique, gardens are established and maintained using a thick layer of hay mulch. This eliminates the need for digging, fertilizing and watering.
Here is a photojournal of a test patch established by Stéphane Groleau using the Ruth Stout technique in 2005. To learn more details about the technique, please read our detailed article about the topic.
Test patch: Ruth Stout system
Saint-Casimir, Québec, 2005
Preparing the soil
Early in the springtime, I covered the patch of grass with old hay.
The hay stops the grass from growing, keeps in humidity, feeds the soil life and enriches the soil (by adding nutrients, and eventually humus)
A month after starting the test, once the temperature was warmer and the hay had started the decomposition process, I transplanted tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, ground cherries, sunflowers and cabbage.
The progress of the plants
June 10th, 2005: The peppers and cucumbers react well to this environment.
At this point, I had a bunch of extra potatoes, so I planted them throughout the garden.
July 23rd, 2005: The ground cherry and sunflower plants are starting to take off.
The most impressive part is that only a superficial layer of the hay is dry. The rest of the hay is quite humid and is actively decomposing.
The same cucumber plant pictured above has finally decided to stretch out! In the bottom left, there’s a tomato plant that I’m allowing to grow however it chooses.
August 13th, 2005: The hay mulch is completely covered in vegetation. The potatoes that I planted have shot up and are growing quickly.
I discover a few hidden cucumbers.
August 30th, 2005: I realize that my pepper plant has about 10 peppers!
The following are photojournals (in French) that follow the progression of the garden each year. Some parts of the garden were maintained using only the Ruth Stout method, while other parts of the garden were expanded using similar permanent mulch methods, such as sheet mulching with cardboard and hay, or with cardboard and chipped branch wood. Fruit trees and berry bushes were added a few years later.