I know her method has a lot going for it. The hay does disintegrate into beautiful friable soil but the caveat is that it does take time. I read her book and it tells about how her plowman was taking too long to come to her garden and she grew impatient and just threw hay on top of the soil. With my practical mind I see that she was not starting with new ground. This was ground that she had been working for years and I'm working with ground that was semi lawn and full of clay mixed with gravel.
Bennie ordered top soil and spread it but I always question the quality of introduced top soil. I sure it would probably be considered dead. The hay I spread last year has not all melted into the ground so I know it has a long way to go to develop the organisms I'm looking for. We put down Azomite and lime last year with the top soil but it will need it again this year. I'm putting the soiled hay and wood shavings from the goats in the garden and that is well laden with lime.
I would like to see more earth worms in the soil when I do dig, The ones I find are really big but they are not plentiful. I am spreading more of the old hay we got last fall, some of it is really falling apart. I think the secret is keeping it wet. the wetter the bale the more mushroom spawn and crawly things. A pitchfork is definitely a welcome tool. I certainly did not want to pick up that stuff even with gloved hands. My plants will certainly like it.
Last year I may have gotten 10 tomatoes for my efforts. Lots of green ones and of course lots of cherry tomatoes from the one cherry tomato plant I put in. It seems everyone I talked to about tomatoes last year could not get tomatoes to ripen. So I'm not taking it to heart. Not sure what the problem was. I'm trying Black Krim this year and Cherokee purples, who are notorious for not producing well in my garden. I have hope for the Black Krims though. Most likely, I will buy some non heirloom from the nursery when I get in there and drop them in for insurance.
This is the first year at this new place that the raspberries I planted have survived. I have Anna golden ones and Autumn beauty and one other one I can't remember. So many died at my hands I hate to count. I have mulched them with hay and given them multiple feedings of coffee grounds mixed with crushed egg shells. The Breakfast of Champions. Time will tell.
The Anna's came from root stock I bought on Ebay for like 10$ including shipping that said it would do 5 foot of row. I got two really healthy nice looking plants coming up. I'm happy win win. It's almost time for them to whither and die, so I'm bracing myself. But seriously, my hope is that they will do well and multiply. I'm thinking that with 7 viable plants I might eat my own raspberrys yet.
Melinda and Bennie Pepper
We work in technology but are homesteaders at heart. We're trying to set up our homestead with productive systems that are sustainable. We have Nigerian Dwarf goats and chickens and are trying to garden and raise fruit trees.