Friday, February 22, 2008

Ruth Stout is my hero

Good morning. I'm thinking this day too much of gardening. I want to put my cloches up, those are like little mini hoop houses. They're easy to install- I just take welded wire, shape it into long caves, insert wire edges into ground and cover with visqueen or whatever random plastic that may be laying around. I'm very technical. Sometimes, before I put the metal "caves" down- I put down black paper or loads of hay, to keep the weeds out and the insects guessing. Mostly I use tons of hay, the Ruth Stout method...she had hay mulch down to an art. She wasted no energy fretting about weed invasion, nope! She'd just plunk a flake of hay on top of an emerging weed and simply walk away, whistling. She is my hero. Her books, if you can find them- are full of common sense and humor. I wished I could have met her- she seems like such a lovely woman, glad to be alive while poking good clean fun at the "experts". She was a sharp old dear, and didn't take any crap from anyone- unless it might help her garden grow. Then she'd just plunk it down, and yep...cover it with hay.
Yes, this day finds me yearning to begin the farming...but, it is cold and solid and frozen outside. Snow is on the ground again. I'd sure like to at least get in a cold frame(again, my technical example:) Take 4-8 bales of straw or hay, make a rectangle with them, make sure the earth within their frame is clean of debris and weeds. Now, go out to the corn crib- find an old storm window, wash it so the glass is clear, not so anciently dusty opaque...lay it atop those straw bales. Wait. In a few days, the sun will have efficiently heated the earth there, now- scatter some seeds like lettuce, arugula(my very favorite!), radish, kohlarabi, etc. Moisten the ground. Place window back over the bales. Come back tomorrow. Where there is no condensation, there is an air leak...pull out a handful of straw and stuff it right around the air leak. Do this for several days. After several days, condensation should take care of your watering needs. If it should snow, leave it atop there- that is a wonderful heat insulator. In 3 weeks +, eat some baby arugula or lettuce- enjoy the winter growth with a homemade vinagrette- remark to the children, "I grew this!" Watch their faces say-"So what!!" Shrug it off and enjoy the peppery arugala, be glad. (Though, vow to make the children sorry some day for not appreciating winter growings. Vow to take their children aside in confidence and share all the horrible growing up stories, shock their children, validate the feelings that their parents are crazy...make them see, that yes! Parents are a mess... rebel! You must rebel! (Grandma is sweet and always right...) and then send them home to their unsuspecting parents. That's my plan, my evil get back at them some day plan...)

 How do I know all of this? I don't. I just try it, see how cheaply, frugally, simply I can get by. Let the sun and the earth and all the elements do most of the work for me. The straw bales just end up as compost later, so it never matters if they get wet and boggy...just throw them on the heap or simply work them into the ground where they're sitting. I'm quite the lazy gardener. I'd rather get it planted and watch. Sit. Be amongst it. Take it all in, nibble or graze while I'm out there. AAhhhh, dreaming my farmer's dreams in February...seed catalogs will have to suffice for now, kind of like the pin up porno stuff of gardening. Stay warm. Take care-


bam said...

okay, darlin, this is it: YOU will be the new ruth stout. you are hilarious, smart, funny (oh, did i already say that?), and smart as a whip besides (oh, am i getting redundant?). this is a marvelous wonderful post. i could read it all day. in fact i want to send up to my brother in maine (yes, maine), who is taking a master gardening course, offered by the state, i think, so he too can get by leaning more on the elements and less on his trips to some store. you make me want to winter grow right here in my sorry old plot. not rich illinois farmland out my window, just sorry illinois backfill is all, probably. but if i love it and tend it, who knows. what i love about how you write about farming, is you are taking the voodoo mystery out of it, you are shrugging your shoulders, walking away whistling. i think ruth stout seeped deeper into your soul than maybe you realize. are you sure you're not her? i am going to spend my whole day thinking of straw i do think. i send love, from my backfill to your loamy rich organic black gold........

Lorrie said...

Brilliant idea with the straw bales and storm windows! Even more brilliant get-back-at-the-kids-thru-the-grandkids idea! LOL

This was a fun read. Thanks!