Our garden drowned this past spring….it was pathetic.
It was epic pathetic – puddles of water formed in the leach field behind my little home. At first when I bought the house, I thought “Cool! I won’t have to water!” Duh…I live in Missouri, aka – the water state…
There was sooooooooo much water this past spring that the rivers flooded the corn fields and septic tanks backed up on the neighbors country farms. There was at least of month of rain, enough that Eli, the local Amish Guy, had time to rebuild my bathroom floor and other nifty stuff, ’cause he couldn’t venture out into the fields without getting stuck in the mud.
Yep – it was Epic Pathetic!
Not all is lost though – I have a plan…..
A couple of years ago – in 2012, when I lived on 3 acres, I tried a new technique. I had heard about an evangelist gardener who had developed a low-maintenance gardening method. Well, I am all about low maintenance, so I tried it.
Building it was hard work, since I didn’t have a pickup truck at the time, I would fill my sedan trunk up with aged wood chips and unload them onto a selected plot of grass. It was slow going, but paid off big time.
My first spring was good – it was as promised – low to no maintenance and zero watering after the initial watering had been done. Weeds were easy to pull and I got a decent bounty.
The real test was in 2013. A friend had helped me out that spring and unloaded about 4 giant truckloads of the aged wood chips. My garden bed doubled in size and thickness. I planted squash, zucchini, peas, cabbage, melons, corn, etc. with the excited hope of having a bang-up harvest.
Things changed though. During the hottest time of the season, my mother died, and then I decided I needed to get away and snuggle some grandchildren, so I left for a month. (I would have been gone longer, but responsibilities called to me.) I said goodbye to my garden, not expecting it to survive the month-long 90’s to 100 degree high humidity temperatures that are so enduring to this state in the late summer months. I thoroughly enjoyed the month of being with grand-kids and it was nice to be able to work through my grief with family.
Upon my return, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only had my garden survived, it was awesome! – The weeds flourished too. the important thing was everything survived and had been growing quite well in my absence. What really sold me on Eden gardening was when I reached down with an iron grip and heaved a weed northward, the ease in which the unwanted plant released it’s grip from the garden bed sent me toppling backward near-head-over-heels. That was when I knew I was in-love.
Now I am in a new home – I tried the old method of planting in the soil and got nothing….not even my potatoes survived….
This spring….it’s gonna be different.
Watch the Back to Eden Film and learn more about how this amazing, down-to-earth system works:
The source for this film is: http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/ buy the DVD and support this farmer.
The Restored Roots blog post, lists both Pro’s and Con’s about wood chips:
- Wood chips do a fabulous job of weed control. In the past three months, I’ve only pulled about two dozen weeds (no joke!). That has been wonderful. In years past, I have spent hours and hours pulling weeds throughout the summer and fall. I won’t be doing that this year!
- With wood chips, the few weeds I’ve had to deal with are easy to pull. Weed seeds don’t have a chance to get into the soil because the wood chips are so deep. Out of the ones that do survive, their roots are thin and very easy to pull and discard.
- Wood chips make vegetable plants big and super healthy! Even after a rough start, our squash plants are absolutely beautiful and producing lovely, juicy fruit. (Notice the zucchini and blue Hubbard in the photos below.) They look bigger and better than plants from our previous gardens. We believe the wood chips are creating a rich, more vibrant soil. They have also caused rapid strong growth in our fruit trees and raspberry crop. (We spread the chips everywhere in our garden!)
- Wood chips have decreased our garden water consumption dramatically.Compared to open bare soil, the wood chips keep water in the soil and plants. Now that the squash plants are almost to full maturity, we’re only watering about twice a week, even in the hottest of weather.
For more information about self-sufficient ways of living:
- Wood chips seem to attract slugs, especially in the spring when the ground is still moist. This is bad news for new growth coming up from seed. In a different climate, where there is less rainfall, this might not be the case. But in our zone 8 with lots of rain throughout the winter and spring, I’m guessing that slugs are more of a problem. I also confirmed this with our CSA farmer, who tried using mulch on a large scale one year. His said slugs were a major problem. The solution? Planting from starts (not seed) seemed to help. But you could also use Sluggo Snail & Slug Control, a natural organic slug killer, or Epsom salts around each vegetable plant or row to control the slug population.
- Wood chips seem to smother new growth from seed, at least in the first year. The Back to Eden website isabsolutely correct. You must pull back the chips and plant in the soil. Otherwise, the seeds have no chance. Even then, the wood chips tend to move and fall back into the “soil hole.” One possible solution we have not tried: place a plastic barrier in between the soil and wood chips, so they don’t fall back into place.”
Check out my next blog for advice on when and how to build your new wood-chip garden bed.