Grit Blogs > One Foot in the City

Ruth Stout Returns

Jalapenos

Last week I ordered a book written by the famous gardener, Ruth Stout, the “mulch queen.”  Although the original was written in 1961, it has now been reprinted and newly released in 2012.   I am enjoying it immensely – sort of a fifty year celebration of the ideas.

Perhaps it is the title that attracts me – Gardening Without Work for the Aging, the Busy & the Indolent.  I use Stout’s ideas extensively in my garden for a number of reasons.  First, my arthritis forces me to find new ways to garden that remove at least a part of the work intensity from the process.  Second, I have very limited well water on my farm, especially if we are in drought.  Third, her recommendations about mulching seem to produce a better garden than gardening without it.  I suppose I really should add that good mulching also produces an attractive and well-tended appearance.

This particular book is a hoot to read if you like to mix good ideas with dry humor.  She loves to offer the odd and obvious questions asked to her as the preface to the point she is trying to make.  Since some of us ask the same questions ourselves, it doesn’t hurt to laugh at ourselves while learning.  As gardeners, it probably isn’t a good idea to take life too seriously.  Of course, I continue to read her later work as well, and it is in my city and farm libraries – The No-Work Garden Book.   Now THAT is my kind of book.

My garden is looking great right now.  I planted most of it on a warm April day that suckered me into the season.  I’ve had some rain to help it along, and yes, it is mulched.  I had forgotten that I can mulch the asparagus though, so I think I’ll do that this weekend.

If you are so inclined, one of her books would make great afternoon reading – right after the afternoon nap, which is a good thing to do with the extra leisure time.