Have We Made Gardening Too Complicated?

by Michael Nolan on 26 September 2011 · 5 comments

in Articles

RuthStout2Over the weekend I was doing some thinking. As a so-called authority on gardening I often have people tell me that they would love to garden, but… and then I am greeted with a barrage of excuses reasons ranging from space issues to time constraints, each of which I have a solution for.

I was blindsided though when someone recently told me that gardening was just too complicated.

After decades of doing it I was probably a bit jaded and operating on auto pilot more often than not but that comment made me question not only gardening in general but more specifically my own practices. Because I fancy myself as one who tries to make things as simple as possible, the idea that we are overcomplicating something as basic as gardening is troubling to me.  I was reminded of the unlikely gardening guru Ruth Stout (sister to Nero Wolfe author Rex Stout) and how decidedly uncomplicated her methods were.

After being tired of waiting on the plowman who was perpetually late, Ruth Stout took matters into her own hands and planted her seeds without plowing the soil first, by just scraping the soil, dropping the seeds and patting them in place. To her surprise, the seeds grew.  She went on to grow a thriving garden for many years before her death in 1980 at the tender age of 96.

On Sunday I went in search of the short documentary film I’d seen years ago about Ruth and was lucky enough to have found it so that I might share it here.

Ruth Stout’s Garden (Video 1 of 2)


Ruth Stout’s Garden (Video 2 of 2)

Big Questions

As someone who has built my career on being a gardening communicator, I had to ask myself a few questions:

  • Have we made gardening too complicated?
  • Are we disenfranchising those who want to garden but lack the experience and are therefore scared to try because there are too many hoops to be jumped through?
  • What can be done to make things less complicated for new gardeners?

Do you think gardening has become too complicated? Give us your tips for easier gardening in the comments below.

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