The Start to My Back to Eden Garden

Back to Eden Gardening

October 10, 2020
Category: Regenerative Permaculture

I mentioned awhile back how I learned about Back to Eden gardening. This summer I was so excited about it that right after watching that video, I called a couple of our clients who are arborists and asked them to deliver tree mulch, the basis of the Back to Eden film. Ever since watching that movie myself and then with my husband, it has inspired me in so many ways! Now my family and my employees make fun of me because my new hobby is “mulching”, not gardening but mulching…haha!

Here’s a few things I have learned or was reminded of in a nutshell:

  • Produce grown at home is much more nutritional. Eating veggies/fruit off the vine/plant is the most nutrient dense time to eat it.
  • Tree mulch (with leaves, small twigs and larger tree chippings) is a great renewing source. The leaves and small twigs break down and give nitrogen to the soil at a speed that is beneficial.
  • Tree mulch protects the soil from degradation: too much rain or too little rain.
  • Tree mulch provides nutrients to the soil that then creates beautiful, rich and nutritious soil for gardening.
  • Tree mulch is pH balanced and you can grow acid loving and alkaline loving plants near each other. Amazing!
  • Tree mulch can renovate tough parts of your garden/yard/farm because it renews the soil underneath. Want to renovate a grassy or weedy area of your yard? Put down cardboard, paper bags or newspaper then compost (2-3″ thick) and then mulch (4-6″ thick) and the next year you will have beautiful soil. Many people say 8″ of mulch can get rid of the need for the cardboard and newspapers.
  • Tree mulch removes the need for tilling (tilling disrupts and kills the beneficial organisms in soil)…thus the reason that current agricultural practices are not actually renewable/sustainable.

So this year, I got about 20+ cubic yards of tree mulch and have started renovating parts of our garden and yard. We are preparing our garden so that over the winter, the mulch can break down and breath new life into our soil. I can’t wait to see what it looks like next spring.

My garden plans are pretty big for next spring. I would love to plant as many of our own fruits and veggies that we can. We have a bunch of young fruit trees and are hoping that they will start producing next year. We also have a few more varieties to purchase in the spring. The thing we are probably most excited about is the renovation of our strawberries. They always just get so filled with grass (grass is our yard nemesis) that the grass just chokes out all strawberry plants. We have probably 50 plants and just get a few dozen small strawberries. If we see a benefit to our strawberries, then we will be sold on this method for life. Each year we toil and toil and get so frustrated with the outcome of our strawberries.

My husband has been the master gardener in our family for awhile and just this year have I really gotten into it in a big way. Before I was helping him with watering and weeding and making things look pretty/organized. Now with all of my learning, I have been going crazy with my dreams and goals for the garden and I hope to be doing more and more each year. I was telling Steve the other night that I have plans for increasing our garden a ton in the future.  I have a lot to learn but I am super excited about it. I lay in bed at night thinking about the next time I will have time to mulch.

Mulch! I love mulch! My 8 year old daughter (and some of our employees too) make fun of how much I LOVE something as crazy as mulch. Haha! Here’s to our first year of No Dig or Back to Eden Gardening!

Update March 21, 2021

— I have been mulching our front flower bed with red mulch for the last few years (which now I know is not the best for the environment or my soil) but it did prove to me that mulch is great for keeping grass to a minimum (not altogether but much better than anything else I have tried). Now that I am using deeper mulch and better mulch, I am looking forward to seeing the benefits. One benefit that I am already seeing in our front flower bed is that we have a couple of tulips coming up that never did well before. That’s something!

— There were a few places that I laid down compost/fertilizer, sheets of cardboard and then mulch on top…I think I am realizing that this method may not work that well in a colder climate. We over-wintered the cardboard/mulch (from August through March) and there is still cardboard under the mulch that hasn’t broken down! I read on a website somewhere that a gardener used cardboard the first season and then in subsequent seasons she just used a thicker application of mulch without the cardboard. I tried that with some of our fruit trees. We will see if the grass grows through the mulch without the cardboard. If it doesn’t, then we will either put more compost above the cardboard, mulch sooner in the summer with cardboard or leave the cardboard out altogether and just use a thicker application of mulch. Will update more when spring has actually sprung!

— My journey that started with Back to Eden Gardening has expanded to encompass “permaculture”. Check out my article, “What is Permaculture?” for more information!

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