It’s spring time and I’m sure I’m not the only one itching to get into my garden. We have more land than we did last year which means more area to garden in. It also means more weeds, pests, etc. Since I don’t have hours every day to spend in my garden I have been researching methods of gardening that require less work but still yield good results. Enter Back to Eden Gardening.
If you want to watch a wonderful in depth film about the benefits of Back to Eden I suggest you go to www.backtoedenfilm.com and watch the original film created by Paul Gautschi. He details why he created the method and how he and others used it in their own lives to increase their yields as he believes God intended.
The idea is that nature grows really well in the forest on its own. In fact the forest is one of the places where life flourishes the most. Paul believes that is because the ground is covered with leaves, pine needles, twigs, and other natural mulch that retains rainwater, suppress weeds, and fertilizes the soil as it decomposes. Nature rarely leaves bare soil and because of that produces more with less resources. Even in our area where sagebrush is commonplace there are rarely patches of bare soil that don’t have some kind of weed or Joshua tree.
I hear you over there mumbling to yourself that you don’t want weeds. I don’t either and that’s the beauty of this approach. You are not cultivating weeds but rather mimicking how nature flourishes and applying it to something you do want in your garden. In Back to Eden gardening you don’t need to touch a tiller (after all nature doesn’t till its soil up every year) or dig up your entire garden area. All you have to do is cover the ground.
Steps to a Back to Eden Garden:
- Mow or trim existing weeds:
I like this idea a lot because it means I don’t have to dig out every weed that’s in my field right now. I simply have to trim them down to a reasonable level and let my garden smother what’s left. That means less work for me right off the get go! Side note: if you are getting rid of dandelions pick them and put them in a tea or other medicinal concoction rather than just killing them unless they have been sprayed with commercial weed killer.
2. Lay down newspaper or cardboard over the area:
Ask friends you know or local businesses if they have used boxes you can have or old newspapers you can recycle for them. Many people are happy to give these to you because they know it’s not just going to waste and they don’t have to pay someone else to dispose of it.
3. Put down a thick layer of compost:
Hopefully you have your own well used compost bin and don’t have to buy this because honestly it can get super expensive. I was hoping our rabbits would help us out a lot more than they did this year and when I crunched numbers to see how much compost we would have to buy I was not very happy. You can use any animal manure compost just make sure its not fresh because you don’t want it to burn your plants. Garden scrap compost is also great just make sure you have A LOT of it. You want 3-4 inches of this on your entire garden.
4. Add a thick layer of mulch:
You can choose what to use for your mulch. Paul suggests wood chips but straw, leaves, twigs, or cut grass will do. This layer needs to be very thick (around 6 inches is best) so don’t skimp here.
If you are planting starts simply push your finger through the mulch layer until you reach the compost and plant in that. If you decide to start from seed you will need to not only dig down to the compost layer to plant but also clear a small amount of the mulch away from the immediate area where you plant the seed so the sapling can push through the ground without being choked out.
If you followed all the steps you should have an abundant garden with a high yield. I will have to let you know how ours goes since I haven’t done it yet.
7. Apply more mulch after each growing season:
To keep your garden soil strong and ready for the next year of planting add some extra mulch after all the food is harvested. Let it sit through the winter and decompose a bit to give you that nice rich black dirt you want next spring.
I hope this was helpful as you start a garden that hopefully will produce well for you for years to come by mimicking nature. Let me know if you have tried Back to Eden before and how it worked for you!