So, I’m re-adopting the Ruth Stout permanent deep hay mulch method of gardening, and I’m already enjoying major freedom from weeding, and reduced watering needs.

But occasionally a crop can’t be mulched for a while, specifically this one long bed of leek seedlings that are just too puny and closely-spaced to get the hay treatment yet. In the weeks between now and then, I have to find a way to keep the bed clean. A hoe is too big to clean up between these little guys while not killing a significant number of them. And getting down and laboriously hand-weeding a thousand tiny weed sprouts is not my idea of a good time.

I needed something that I could use while standing. It had to be quite small and easy to precisely control, since I need to slice out weeds right up to the base of little plants. I started puzzling on how to build such a thing but eventually turned the matter over to a genius.



And it still cuts cheddar perfectly.

This is a wire cheese-cutter, duct-taped to a broom handle.

It gets in between and right up to my little leeks that are too-closely spaced, and glides under the top layer of soil, cutting everything on the way. Really teensy seedlings get uprooted and dry out. I can stand comfortably upright and draw the weeder along towards myself in a natural way, instead of bending forward to chop at the weeds.

Furthermore, unlike the preceding prototype which required fine-tuning the angle on a flat blade, the cutting wire works the same from any angle.

Indistinguishable from magic.

Indistinguishable from magic.


  1. Lauraw, queen of sufficiently advanced technology.

  2. I saw the Ruth Stout Permanent Deep Hay Mulch Method open for My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult in 2001.

  3. I haven’t mulched yet, most things are still too stubby, especially the basil. I might have to build one of these.

  4. Mulch is a scam.

  5. Do you actually use hay for that, Laura, or straw? Hay has lots of grass seed.

  6. I looked on craigslist and bought some half-price spoiled hay from a livestock guy up the road a piece.

    This is the first hay I’ve had that actually is pretty free of seeds. Usually hay bales are loaded with them.

    But in the past, when I had very weedy hay that sprouted, I just flipped the mats of hay over to uproot the sprouts that had struck soil (the soil under a permanent hay mulch becomes extremely soft and fluffy), and added more hay on top. Takes a few minutes to flip a few rows of weedy hay, but it still take less time and work than ‘real’ weeding.

    No system is perfect.

    I used straw before but it is too coarse and light and not occlusive enough. It tends to stay drier. You need that wet matting-down to happen at the soil level.

  7. I bought one of Ruth Stout’s out of print books on Amazon a long time ago and really enjoyed her account of how she struck on this and what she did.

    But I wouldn’t do everything she recommended. I’ll still go on having a separate compost pile, because there’s no way I can tuck veggie trash directly under my mulch all year long and not have a vole population explosion right in my garden.

  8. *lowers chin


  9. Doomed.

  10. You’ve invented the collinear hoe/cheese slicer-matic

  11. Er, stirrup hoe

  12. Eliot Coleman’s nifty idea. Yeah, there’s no way I’m paying $40 for a wire on a stick.

  13. While I appreciate your inventiveness and ingenuity, you really didn’t need to put so much effort into this when you had a perfectly viable alternative available to you:

  14. jewstin already has a job, silly wiser

  15. Mr. Robot on USA network last night rocked. You’re welcome.

  16. Oh, and as far as deweeding alternatives … goats … they’ll appreciate the free meals plus it gets them away from the goat fucking rag heads that are always chasing them around when no one is looking.

  17. Goats as hoes…interesting concept. I wonder if they’re a viable ass spoon alternative?

  18. I learn so much here that I forget it all quickly. Is this a food blog?

  19. Goats will eat the crops right along with the weeds.

  20. i think if you kill the goat first then attach one of it’s hooves to a stick, it would make a serviceable ground-scraper type weeder. Good idea.

    Wiser could probably train squirrels to use a flamethrower. He has cats that respond to normal human conversation.

  21. wiser is a cat lady?

    Jay in Ames == “unsurprised”

  22. OMG, here I go again with a whole lot of make-work. You don’t need to kill the goat first.

  23. You know moving 14 tons of rocks is hard work.

    and sweaty.

    I stink.

  24. I hear goats will eat woodchucks and groundhogs. So will chickens.

  25. I think I’ve only moved 1/3 of it so far truth be told.


  26. Who do we mail the bag of dicks to regarding the SCOTUS decision? I was out and missed it all.

    we are well and truly fucked. I will most likely never be able to afford to ever have anything medically done to me.

  27. Viola-bow stringed musical instrument

    Voila – exclamation


  28. Well, at least the people of Detroit will have quality medical care, thanks to Car in, burnt steaks, ketchup, and batteries.

    Thanks Car in!



  29. I was leaving that one alone, Tushar. I don’t want to hear the screaming of monkeys.


  30. I like the viola joke and I will continue to use it. Hotspur can eat a bag of dicks.

  31. Good thing Obamacare has lessened the over-use of ERs for non emergencies.

    Oh wait …

  32. >>Hotspur can eat a bag of dicks.

    That is his favorite bar bet.

  33. You should get a plow and borrow Leon’s horse.

    Those rocks would be spread in no time, plus free horse poop.

  34. Salted dicks

  35. No man can eat 52 dicks!

  36. So I just got preapproved for a home loan. My first thought looking at houses was “Is the back yard big enough for a garden?”

    I hate you all so very much.

  37. I’m putting in a strawberry bed to the south of the garden. The soil is so compacted and hard there I’m just going to do a lasagna bed over the top of it. Fuck turning that shit. Let the worms do it.

  38. Comment by Jimbro on June 25, 2015 5:03 pm

    Salted dicks

    Pickled Dicks

  39. You should be taking soil samples.

  40. you can grow lasagna? can you send me some seeds?

  41. Ah, my favorite comment about global warming reappears on AOS, in a poat. Gotta love it.

  42. I got 2 job offers today. One from the old building, letting me know that they want me but are trying to figure out how to fund a position, and one from Ford ten minutes ago.

    I’m gonna go have a drink with people from both companies and enjoy my murthafuggin’ evening.

  43. “Is the back yard big enough for a garden?”



  44. Have a great night, Leon! Great attitude.

  45. I just love the word ‘great’

  46. Congrats, leon! Remember us when you hit the big time.

  47. That’s awesome, laura.

  48. >>Colorado Alex on June 25, 2015 at 5:08 pm
    No man can eat 52 dicks!

    Stop it. You are simply provoking Hotspur

  49. Hello, from Folsom Ca. Its nice up here.

  50. Kudos for your creative and unique use of duck tape, Laura.

  51. Hi, Cathy. Nice to hear from you on a lovy day!

  52. I lovy the werd lovy. It’s lovely.

  53. “No man can eat fifty two dix”

    Dont dust yerself, Tush.

  54. CATHY!

    I was just thinking of you earlier this week and how I’ve missed you.

    How you down’, sweetie?

  55. hi Cathy!

  56. Wiserbud, how many homeruns have you smitten in soft ball this year alone?

  57. SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! I’m at Paul Mitchell getting my hair done by wiserdaughter!!!!

    I feel tho thpeshul!!!!

  58. >>>>
    Wiserbud, how many homeruns have you smitten in soft ball this year alone?

    I don’t hit home runs. I hit singles. But my average is around .650 though


  60. I’m doing a new strawberry bed next year too. Preparing the ground this year.

  61. I hated my job picking strawberries.


  63. Incredibly huge woman is getting her hair styled across from me. She is starting with short hair to begin with. Guy does… Whatever and I can’t even tell a difference.

    She is bitching that he cut it too short. And is now sitting there with a nasty bitch-face. Guy is apologizing profusely. She is really not happy.

    Seriously, sweetie, that extra centimeter that he cut off isn’t what’s going to keep the guys from hitting on you.

  64. ooooOOOOOooooo….. Look at me getting all bitchy at the salon…..

  65. Chumpo’s in Folsom?

    What’re ya in for this time, big fella? Just remember not to drop your soap in the shower –

  66. If you plant them in the fall you will have fruit you can eat next year.

  67. Laura is ordering plants from an online nursery, they have a 25 plant minimum, way more than we need.

    We can split the order with you if want.

  68. I just hope our overlords increase our chocolate ration from 20 grams to 15 grams.

  69. >Hotspur can eat a bag of dicks.
    That is his favorite bar bet.

    *golf clap*

  70. ooooOOOOOooooo….. Look at me getting all bitchy at the salon…..

    Wiser gets his biannual haircut.

    *ducks and runs*

  71. Decades, people. Decades.

    Blooms Taxonomy – what teachers are forced to endure. “Benjamin Bloom said, ‘You think the purpose of education is reading, writing, arithmetic? The purpose of education is to change the thoughts, actions and feelings of students.’….He defines good teaching as challenging the students fixed beliefs….He claims he can take a student from a belief in God to atheism in an hour …and she has seen it happen.

    I advanced it to that point but it’s informative from the beginning on the indoctrination and purposeful dumbing down of our schools.

  72. ‘Sup, cuntz?

  73. Cuntz?

  74. Kanutes.

  75. Dr. LauraW: Love, desire, ambition, faith – without them, gardening is so simple, believe me.
    Dr. Miles J. Bennell: I don’t want any part of it.
    Dr. LauraW: You’re forgetting something, Miles.
    Dr. Miles J. Bennell: What’s that?
    Dr. LauraW: You have no choice.

  76. Congrats Leon.

  77. Incredibly huge woman is getting her hair styled across from me. She is starting with short hair to begin with. Guy does… Whatever and I can’t even tell a difference.
    She is bitching that he cut it too short. And is now sitting there with a nasty bitch-face. Guy is apologizing profusely. She is really not happy.
    Seriously, sweetie, that extra centimeter that he cut off isn’t what’s going to keep the guys from hitting on you.
    Is this a metaphor? Are you the fat girl in this story.

    I’m assuming you are because your favorite sport is softball.

  78. Congratulations Leon!

    You going to take both jobs? You should take both jobs.

  79. You should take the job at Ford and get us all new trucks.

  80. Did anybody betroth anybody else to the Comté de Ficquelmont in order to improve their family’s standing in the French aristocracy today?

  81. If he took both jobs, we could move in with him.

  82. I get Leon’s basement. My coffin will fit right under the stairs.

  83. We got a picnic table today. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve had a table to sit at.


  84. Tomorrow it gets sanded.

    Solid wood, southern pine, $88 at Lowes.

  85. “Laura is ordering plants from an online nursery, they have a 25 plant minimum, way more than we need.

    We can split the order with you if want.”

    How many are we gonna order? And will you guys deliver?

  86. Just don’t order triffids, girls.

  87. I’ve thrown down grass and cardboard on my future strawberry patch. I’m going to get really serious very soon.

  88. I still need to go pick up shroom spores from Leon. I’m kinda dragging my feet because I’m thinking I can force a baby-head-sniffing moment if I just hold out a few weeks or so.

  89. It might not make sense. Shipping might cost more than the plants.

    She’ll have to look into it.

  90. Hoppers are back. Not swarms, just regular.

  91. I put a layer of hay down now, but I am going to do layers of soil from the woods, peat, rotted leaves, compost, etc. and have it ready for Fall planting. Like, September, hopefully. That should give them time to get established before Winter.

    I don’t want everbearers, I have had them in the past and they just don’t produce enough. So it’s Junebearers then.

    I do want to stagger the harvest, though. So I have to get at least two varieties of June-bearers. One early or mid-season, and one late season.

    If I get one order of each, that’s fifty plants. I really only need or want about 20 – 25 plants. If you want, we can split the order down the middle and each get 25 plants total, in two varieties.

  92. Lock the windows.

  93. >>>>>Is this a metaphor? Are you the fat girl in this story.

    You fucking bitch!!!!

  94. Ever-bearers suck. I ripped those out last year.

    We’ll split them. Then I’ll just drive over and get them. WIll you have some of those clams for me when I arrive?

  95. OK, nah, nevermind. Strawberries are extremely cheap. The shipping cost makes it not worth splitting the order.

  96. Crap, crossed our posts. Sorry toots!! It’s going to make more sense to just plant as much as we can and chuck the extras.

    Unfortunately, as much as I would LOVE to have a meetup and entertain people again, it is not to be. We are living like savages right now.

  97. Hmm, this seems like a possibility.

  98. Find out if their municipality has free compost for residents.


  99. Great, now I need to buy clams tomorrow…

  100. Nice view, but isn’t that kinda big for 1 person?


  102. Gotta have space for hobo storage.

  103. How nice. A murder within one mile yesterday.

  104. Those are just wood chips.

  105. Yeah, it is on the big side. Unfortunately most of the smaller stuff is crap in bad parts of town.

  106. Two ways of looking at it.

    1) that’s a lot to clean
    2) you wouldn’t have to take your trash out for a decade

  107. Shit. My old house in Colorado Springs looks like shit, and the nice bar next door is now a pot shop.

  108. Your van is still in the driveway.

  109. Your van is still in the driveway.

    That’s where I store my free candy.

  110. I would really like to take both jobs, but I’m not sure I could get away with it.

    I also considered not quitting my current telecommuting gig until they notice.

  111. Wiserson is playing softball with me again this weekend.

  112. 3 jobs would be best.

    You need a pool.

  113. Wife and I are now discussing the practicality of me telecommuting part-time so I have 12 hour days, at least until her FMLA runs out in late September.

    I don’t think it can work. Maybe a little while so I can exit cleanly.

  114. Unless I start taking illegal doses of provigil there’s no way I could do all 3.

    OTOH, if I did that for a year I could retire.

  115. Time to go sleep on it.

  116. Slacker.

  117. 3 jobs?????


    you lazy bastard……

  118. Oooo free candy

  119. Wait… pot shop next door.

    Never mind on the free candy.

  120. His horses don’t work either.
    I bet he has girly hands.

  121. I bet he has girly hands.

    I bet he sleeps at least 8 hours per night too….


  122. I miss the old bar next door. Helen the hippy bartender. I’d get home from work, change into civies, walk in, and toss a burger on the grill and pour myself a beer.

  123. I was just watching this video about a delicious traditional bread I haven’t had in years, part cornbread, part wheat- Portuguese of course.

    So I click over to this old-timey video and this woman has made a roaring bed of coals in an enormous old stone oven, and now she’s removed the coals, and wiped out the ashes, and prepared the oven for bread.

    She cuts a piece of delicious-looking dough off of an enormous wooden trough full of the stuff.

    She tosses the dough in flour, I can see it is heavy and a nice texture.

    She places the dough on a heavy wooden peel and starts patting it into a thick round loaf shape. I can tell it’s going to be crusty and wonderful.

    She takes out a plate of small whole fish, and starts pressing them gently into the top of the dough…at this point I start laughing uncontrollably.

    Holy shit. Thank God for America.

  124. Laura,
    Sardine bread?

  125. “I’m pressing my fish into dough” sounds like something pervy.

  126. “You know that xbrad… Always wanting to press his fish into someone’s dough.”

  127. A fukksize of strawberries is about $25. But I’d still visit if off were humanely possible for either of us lauraw.

  128. Rolly polly fish heads

  129. His horses don’t work either.

    Hardly. Leon has taught his horses to count carrots in hexadecimal. In the fall he is teaching them Python.

  130. WTF?
    Sardine bread?

    And mackereloons.

  131. Flatfish bread.

  132. Yeah, Crispy. Looks like sardinhas to me. Which- actually, fine. You know, I like strong flavored seafood. But with the heads on??

  133. Angelfishfood cake.

  134. Look, I don’t even want to know. But this is a thing now.

    Oh my. The @nytimes has an article celebrating the liberating “micro protest” going on at #LiveTweetYourPeriod

  135. Promise you no GOP leaders will object.

    U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown today said the federal government should use whatever power it has to keep the Confederate battle flag off public property – starting with license plates.

    The Ohio Democrat said he will author an amendment to a highway-funding bill that would withhold a portion of federal road building-and-repair money to states that use the Confederate flag on license plates.

  136. I know, Carin. Someday.

  137. Hey, now – that’s the original Anchovy Pizza….

  138. I had a “micro protest” once.

  139. I thought for a second you said micropenis, but what’s George Orwell got to do with this?

  140. I thought for a second you said micropenis, but what’s George Orwell got to do with this?

    It’s not my fault that death involves a certain amount of inevitable organ shrinkage.

  141. Sorry, old boy.

  142. Geebus. I got to playing around and looking at what goes into making a podcast. What a fuckload of work. Steep learning curve. My admiration of Brent and Andy has gone up quite a bit.

  143. There once was a monkey named laura.
    Her buttocks smelled strangely like flora.
    She likes to drink Jager; she married a shipper.
    She pretends to garden but she’s really a stripper.

  144. My last comment was weak like a little girl.

    I’m out of practice.

  145. *wires the teeth store with 12 pounds on C-4; waits for xbrad*

  146. I’m a little bit scared
    Cause I haven’t been home in a long time
    You needed my derp
    And I know that I left at the wrong time
    My folks when I wrote them
    Told ’em what I was up to said that’s not me

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Comments RSS