Last fall, Tyler and I surrounded our camper with hay bales from our friend Patty's farm in order to prevent cold winter winds from rushing underneath our camper. Months later, the bales had served their purpose and were decomposing into wet, rotty compost, while hosting flush after flush of rubbery black mushrooms. So, we removed the stuff by the pitchfork-ful and deposited it in a pile by our compost bins.
It eventually occurred to me that some people grow gardens in rotting straw. And if people do it in straw, why not in hay? This spurred an evening of excited googling, as I grew more and more inspired to create a zero-risk, mostly zero effort garden. I was even more raring to go after I watched this video of gardening maven Ruth Stout, author of a kick-ass book called Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy & the Indolent.
Originally, I'd been waiting to make a garden until we could dedicate the time and energy to designing the perfect array of permaculture-inspired, no-weed-no-till-raised-beds. But, considering that we won't start on that until next year, I decided it would be fun to try an experiment right now. Ruth's laissez-faire attitude helped me realize that I could.
So, I built a simple box around the pile using leftover wood scraps:
I sprinkled on what remained of last year's potting soil.
I ran up to the house site to grab a package of shims we used for our window and door installations, and stuck them in as markers.
I tossed in an onion that had been sprouting in the compost bin...
And I chucked in some potatoes that were sprouting in a basket in the camper kitchen.
As for the rest of the garden, I sprinkled in pea seeds and collards seeds, kale seeds and basil seeds. I tossed in lettuce mix and cucumber seeds. I planted several kinds of peppers, a pot of dill, and a bed of garlic chives. And the best part? All of this came from half-emptied seed packets that our friend Joy kindly sent me earlier this year. Thanks, Joy!
All in all, I spent zero dollars on a garden this spring. Since I'm busy working on the house 99.9% of the time, this thing is going to have to be pretty self-sufficient. If we get food, great! If not, it will have been a great experiment, and the first of many gardens to come.