Back to Eden Gardening

Jul. 8, 2013

Couple weeks ago I stumbled over a movie called “Back to Eden“. The movie was long but interesting enough to pause and leave open in my browser for 3 days. It took a few bible quotes to ‘get it’ that the method was based on Gods and/or natures ‘way’. duh… but what really sold me was the sheer size of the vegetables being pulled from the ground. Massive honking beets the size of a (BIG) softball. Equally impressive was the ease with which he single handedly pulled vegetable after vegetable out of the soil. Something clicked in me & I was floored. After contemplating the results, it totally made sense. Our tendency to ‘clean up’ robs the soil of organic materials necessary for soil life to thrive. When the organisms in the soil thrive, plants thrive… (heres why)

So yes. I had to try this.

I cringe everytime I pass by the back of the house. Its been ignored because of the trumpet vine so lovingly planted by my father years ago. Me and this trumpet vine have a love hate relationship. It loves to grow, and I hate it. It sends runners under the ground out 30 feet and shoots up in all kinds of places, in my 2 foot tall square foot garden, in a huge 4 foot yew right outside the door. Its BEAUTIFUL when it flowers but 10 men could not fight this brute. It will always be here and I had simply surrendered for years to be defeated by it. Until this movie inspired me once again to try to tame this wild, weedy jungle.

In the woodchips go… about a foot deep. The movie says to let them break down first but they went in fresh. Screw it, im impatient and have nothing to lose. Because you cant plant straight in fresh woodchips I improvised. I dug holes in the woodchips to the dirt below and filled the holes with a cow poop/peat mix. I have no idea if this is gonna work. Will the woodchips hold it all in place, or will the soil be washed away? Will the roots try to grow outward into nothing but woodchips, or will they be smart enough to grow down into the soil? Would this hurt the plants? We’re gonna find out. At 66 cents a vegetable start (killer deal right?) its worth a shot. PLUS, I was itching since winter to use the vegetable garden layout I designed.

What are the results you ask?
June 19th, 2013 Just finished:
Back to Eden Gardening

Its been 3 weeks and the plants have established themselves and are putting on noticable growth. The dirt seems to be holding its place. Most plants are setting fruit. One pepper plant seems to have insect damage and is suffering. Very very few weeds are growing through the woodchips, what weeds do grow are incredibly easy to pull. Im thrilled with the progress. Will I get gigantic vegetables like an eden garden? I dont expect it in the first year with unconditioned soil, but stay tuned cuz ya never know!

back-to-eden-gardening-results

If you havent seen Back to Eden and would like to watch, here is the official film

Heres a related story floating around email circles that you might enjoy.

GOD AND LAWN CARE. A conversation with St. FrancisGOD SAID: “Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.”

ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it—sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have created a new cycle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ Lord. It’s a story about …

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis



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5 Responses to “Back to Eden Gardening”

  1. Jon says:

    AWESOME! I too have started using woodchips this year… My yard is one that can be kinda called a “wild kingdom.” Well I pulled the large weeds and spread a thick layer of woodchips all among my plants. I found that it really helps to keep the weeds down, and any that do grow there pull out so easy! Also as a added bonus I dont have to water nearly as mulch! (haha get it?) And also will add to organic matter to my soil. And the biggest perk? It will help control my vole problem… The woodchips arent good to build tunnels in… They seem to just collapse. YAY!

    • Trisha says:

      so cool Jon. I noticed that too, that i didnt have to water as mulch đŸ˜‰ no really. I think I drip irrigated twice in 3 weeks, and its been hot this last week.

  2. Rebekah says:

    Really enjoyed the post.
    I have to say I am surprised to find this is a “movement” in the gardening community. I grew up in a state where this was common practice. We had a lot of old hippies who lead by example. Also my dad grew up on a farm, and this is how they did it! He turned out 1/4 acre backyard into a garden, mini orchard, berry and grape vineyard, and chicken coop. All he did was till the leaves and grass clippings from the front yard right back to where they came from. Added some maneuer, and we fed a family of 5 from that.

    Glad to see its catching on!

  3. Carol says:

    Would love to hear how the garden is going (growing). Deciding whether to do SFG or Back to Eden. DH sees nothing but work in the Back to Eden do to seeing large trucks of wood chips in the film and we would have to find a way to haul it from the road to the garden. However, the spot we are going to use is small (less than 20×20 I think) so we probably wouldn’t need a truck load of chips. We do have a wheel barrel. I’m looking into other forms of mulch besides chips. We live in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada (foothills) but due to a large leach field and hilly slope there’s only a spot behind our house we can really garden in.

    • Trisha says:

      Hi Carol… Woodchips do a great job, but it really takes a while. Any method takes a while if you’re going for really good soil. It all has to break down, with time… I had another experience with composting. It took much more effort than throwing down some woodchips, but I really enjoy composting. I wrote about it on my nursery website here: http://rootsnursery.com/great-garden-soil/

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