Her first book about her no-work gardening system, How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back, was the kind of book people can’t bear to return. She reports, “A dentist in Pennsylvania and a doctor in Oregon have both written me that they keep a copy of my garden book in their waiting rooms. Or try to; the dentist has had twenty-three copies stolen, the doctor, sixteen.”
Gardening Without Work is her second gardening book and is even more entertaining and instructional than the first, so hide it from your friends!
How does it work? “And now let’s get down to business. The labor-saving part of my system is that I never plow, spade, sow a cover crop, harrow, hoe, cultivate, weed, water or irrigate, or spray. I use just one fertilizer (cottonseed or soybean meal), and I don’t go through the tortuous business of building a compost pile. Just yesterday, under the ‘Questions and Answers’ in a big reputable farm paper, someone asked how to make a compost pile and the editor explained the arduous performance. After I read this I lay there on the couch and suffered because the victim’s address wasn’t given; there was no way I could reach him.
“My way is simply to keep a thick mulch of any vegetable matter that rots on both my vegetable and flower garden all year round. As it decays and enriches the soil, I add more. And I beg everyone to start with a much eight inches deep; otherwise, weeds may come through, and it would be a pity to be discouraged at the very start.”
Regardless of topic, Ruth Stout’s writing is always about living a joyous and independent life, and Gardening Without Work is no exception! This book is a treasure for the gardener and a delight even to the non-gardener. First published in 1961, this Norton Creek Press version is an exact reproduction of the original edition, with illustrations by Nan Stone.
Ruth Stout was a beloved advocate of organic gardening, and her book, Gardening Without Work, and her magazine articles popularized her style of simple living to millions. If You Would Be Happy was first published in 1962, and Norton Creek Press is proud to offer it to a new generation.
Ruth was born in Kansas. Her mother was a Quaker with a rate knack for coping with her nine children. One of Ruth’s brothers, Rex Stout, became the creator of the well-known Nero Wolfe mysteries, and Ruth herself began selling stories locally at an early age.
As a teenager, Ruth accompanied prohibitionist Carrie Nation on a saloon-smashing excursion (saloons were illegal in Kansas City at the time). In 1923 Ruth accompanied fellow Quakers to Russia to assist in famine relief.
Ruth moved to New York City, and before her marriage to Fred Rossiter she worked at a variety of jobs—nursemaid, telephone operator, bookkeeper, secretary, office manager, owner of a Greenwich Village tearoom. After her marriage, she and her husband moved to an old farm, Poverty Hollow, in West Redding, Connecticut.
Ruth’s career since moving to the country was that of cook, housekeeper, gardener, lecturer, and, of course, writer. Ruth wrote several books and innumerable newspaper and magazine columns. She died in 1980 at the age of 96.