According to research, gardening and growing your own food is good for your mental health and physical health. Especially during a global pandemic, all of us can benefit by spending time outside, especially in a vegetable garden. Gardening is good for the mind, body, and spirit!
On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency because of the coronavirus. We all found ourselves under a "safer at home" order as our country went on lock down due to COVID-19. Panic swept the nation resulting in grocery store shelves being empty and products online being sold out and backordered for months.
sTons of people lost their jobs and many businesses closed down. Cases of clinical depression and anxiety related to isolation and financial struggles skyrocketed. At the same time, the sale of plants and seeds skyrocketed with sales jumping over 400% for some seed companies. Many seed varieties were sold out and would not be replenished until the next growing season. Millions of people found solutions to food security and happiness through starting backyard gardens.
Personally, as the filmmakers of a gardening documentary, we watched as views of BACK TO EDEN climbed over 1 million views in the first month after quarantine began in the United States. A new surge of beginner gardeners swarmed our website and questions about gardening filled our email's inbox. We found ourselves answering questions from all over the world from Africa to Europe to China. It was clear that people were turning to gardening to keep themselves busy but not surprising many people were desperately seeking food security. This isn't the first time gardening was popular during a crisis in history either! The victory garden movement began during WWI which called on people to grow food in whatever space they could which helped prevent food shortages.
My parents, who are featured in the movie BACK TO EDEN, are still growing food 10 years after the film was released! Every year they grow a Back to Eden Garden that produces a higher yield than the previous year. They grow enough food in rural Pennsylvania to sustain them throughout the year! Mark McOmber started a YouTube channel showing the results of a 10 year Back to Eden garden.
The benefits of gardening are so vast, but let us begin with physical health. Growing your own food gives you access to nutrient-rich food which improves your health. Studies show that most produce loses 30% of nutrients only 3 days after harvest! That means that the vegetable produce you purchase from the grocery store has less nutrients than homegrown vegetables and fruits. You will also reap the physical health benefit of being active. Exercise in the garden gives all of your muscles a fantastic workout!
The mental health benefits of gardening are also being researched worldwide. A report in the Mental Health Journal cited gardening as being able to reduce stress and improve mood with a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Gardening is related to better brain function and to improved concentration and memory. Some studies have found that it can even reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia. One long-term study from Australia followed nearly 3,000 older adults for over 15 years, tracking incidence of all types of dementia and assessing a variety of lifestyle factors. The researchers concluded that daily gardening was the single biggest risk reduction of dementia, reducing incidence by over a third!
Back to Eden Gardening also taps into something that most gardening methods don't tend to focus on, which is our spiritual health. BACK TO EDEN film shares Paul Gautschi's inspiring journey listening to God in his gardens and connecting to God by observing nature. A Back to Eden Film review by Movie Guide states "Paul’s appreciation for God is infectious. He gives God the credit for his success."
Many studies show that wellness and health are improved when the human mind, body, and spirit are actively working together in our daily lives. Just like our bodies and minds, our spirits need to feed, so to speak, in order to feel our best.
The quick answer is yes! Wood Chip Gardening is a scientifically proven effective gardening method. In fact, there was a study comparing 15 different organic mulches which concluded wood chips are one of the best mulches for holding moisture, moderating soil temperatures, controlling weeds, and overall sustainability. The fact is wood chips absorb and retain more water than any other mulch! This water cools the soil and is slowly released to plants. Soil moisture and soil temperature is directly related to the yield from plants grown in your vegetable garden.
Myths About Wood Chip Mulch
Myth #1: Wood chips will rob nitrogen from the soil.
The biggest and most widespread myth about wood chips is that they rob nitrogen from the soil. Scientifically, there is no evidence that wood chips deplete nitrogen from the soil. As Paul Gautschi mentions in the documentary, BACK TO EDEN, this myth can be debunked by simply looking at the soil in a forest floor, where dead wood, needles, leaves, and undergrowth are all present and yet new growth is always happening. What studies do show is that where wood chips are sitting on top of the soil, such as the no-till Back to Eden Gardening method, bacteria is actively working to decompose the wood -- bacteria which then consume nitrogen as food. However, this only occurs to a depth of approximately 5mm below the wood chips. This shows that "nitrogen loss" is limited to such a small area that wood chips do not rob nitrogen from soil or plants. Actually, many studies have demonstrated that wood chip mulch materials increase nutrient levels in soils and plants.
Before applying wood chips, create a thin underlying layer of a compost if there are concerns about nutrient deficiencies. This mimics what you would see in nature. It’s not required, though, and over time a wood chip mulch will develop this same structure as the lower layers break down and decompose into compost.
Myth #2: Wood chips will kill your plants.
What type of wood chips you use in your garden does matter! It is incredibly import that you are 100% aware of what tree(s) are in your wood chips. Before wood chips are delivered to your property, make sure you inquire about what type of wood chips are being delivered. Tell the arborist or tree service company you are using them in a vegetable garden. Why? Allelopathy is the chemical inhibition of one plant by another due to the release into the environment of substances acting as germination or growth inhibitors. For example, Reformation Acres, shares that wood chips from black walnut trees affected her tomato plants. Black Walnut wood chips have been confirmed by science to contain a chemical that inhibits plant growth. Paul Gautschi had a negative experience with Eucalyptus tree wood chip mulch which inhibited the growth of plants. Make sure you do research about the trees that grow in your local area. If you are certain about what trees are in your wood chip mulch, plants will not be killed through the leaching of allopathic chemicals in wood chips.
NOTE: When you are signing up for a free delivery of wood chips, the Chip Drop app has a place for your to make special requests to your tree service company. Please, make a note if you have any specific requests about what wood chips from trees you are interested in receiving. For example, write, "No Black Walnut. No Eucalyptus."
Myth #3: Wood chips acidify soils.
When we refer to "wood chips" we mean tree trimmings that are composed of 90% needles, leaves, and branches that have been chipped up in a wood chipper. It is important to understand that leaves are a source of nitrogen and branches are a source of carbon. This ratio of wood chips composed of needles, leaves, and branches creates an ideal mulch for a vegetable garden once they are composted. What studies do show is that when you do not use this nitrogen to carbon ratio, mulch can increase soil acidity over time. For example, if you use 100% bark, 100% needles, or 100% leaves you are not mulching properly. However, it is difficult to significantly alter soil pH without the additions of chemicals. Changes in pH may be found in the decomposing layer of mulch but these have little effect on underlying soils.
Myth #4: Wood chips increase pests such as ants, slugs, termites, etc.
The top question we get asked is, "Do wood chips attract termites and pest to your garden?" The first thing to address is that wood chips do not bring pests to your property that are not already present. Paul Gautschi has never had an issue with termites nor have we heard testimonies of any gardeners complaining about termites due to wood chip mulch. As far as pests, if you have a healthy vigorous plant, insects should not be a problem. Wood chips are the key to building healthy soil that grows healthy plants!
4. Minimize Weeds in Your Garden - The boarder you create when building a raised bed acts as a barrier for weeds and grasses which keeps them from creeping into your garden. The soil is also so loose that if you do have weeds, they are easy to pull out and remove.
5. Exclude Pests from Your Garden - Raised Beds can help exclude pests from accessing your garden from above and below. Burrowing pests like voles, gophers, and moles can be completely eliminated from accessing your garden if you line your raised bed with hardware cloth. Destructive animals like deer, birds, rabbits, and rodents that can access your garden from above can be deterred by adding a protect covering such as hoops, wire, or netting.
WHAT DO YOU FILL A RAISED GARDEN BED WITH?
In order to get the best results, fill a raised garden bed with compost, composted animal manure, and wood chips! Raised beds can be built using permaculture methods which regenerate the soil and the environment. The Back to Eden Gardening method can be applied to raised garden beds! Cover your raised bed with wood chips which will act as a mulch that helps conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and build soil. Sign up for a free delivery of wood chips today!
HOW DEEP SHOULD A RAISED BED GARDEN BE?
A raised bed garden should be at least 6 inches tall and can be as tall as you want it to be! The taller the raised bed the easier it is to access plants without needing to bend over to tend to them. Raised bed gardening is popular for anyone who has back pain, the elderly, and disabled people in a wheelchair find raised beds more accessible. However, the taller the bed, the deeper the compost needs to be which requires more input and work over time.
HOW CLOSE DO I PLANT SEEDS IN A RAISED GARDEN BED?
Raised bed gardening is wonderful for growing vegetables and fruits. The goal is to plant your heirloom seeds close together so that when the vegetables are fully grown the leaves barely touch which creates a microclimate that suppresses weeds and conserves moisture.
This is a vegetable gardening guide for beginners that includes essential steps you need to take to start a garden. Growing a vegetable garden is one of the most life-changing and rewarding things you can do. Starting a vegetable garden using organic gardening principles can save you time, money, and labor while greatly benefiting the environment. This guide starts at improving the soil and will cover every step you need to take for your starting your vegetable garden.
Improve the Soil
The first step to start a vegetable garden is to improve the soil. Most importantly, do not till the soil! Tilling the ground is the most destructive thing you can do since tilling causes soil erosion and loss of soil diversity resulting in sterile soil that required more input. Instead, use a no-dig gardening technique that dramatically improves the health of the soil and environment. Once you pick a sunny area for your garden plot, layer the following material in this order:
HOW TO START A VEGETABLE GARDEN
WHAT TIME OF YEAR IS BEST TO START A VEGETABLE GARDEN?
It is ideal to start a vegetable garden in the Fall when wood chips are readily available and have time to compost over winter. However, you can start a vegetable garden any time of the year!
Pick What You Want to Plant
The second most important part of starting a vegetable garden is the seeds you plant. For the best results, plant non-GMO heirloom seeds in your vegetable garden. Heirloom seeds produce the best tasting and most nutritious fruits and vegetables. You can save your own seeds if you plant heirloom seeds which can save you money in the long haul. There are so many incredible varieties of heirloom seeds available from the leading heirloom seed companies.
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HOW DO I PLANT MY FIRST VEGETABLE GARDEN?
Plant your heirloom seeds in your improved soil by pulling back a row of wood chips and planting in the compost below the wood chips. Many vegetable seeds are extremely tiny and need to be directly sowed into soil. Seeds need water to germinate so make sure to water your seeds daily so they do not dry out.
TIPS FOR GROWING A PERFECT VEGETABLE GARDEN
MULCH, MULCH, MULCH your vegetable garden to ensure all the wonderful benefits of mulching! Mulch helps reduce weeding, watering, fertilizing, and working! If you notice weeds growing in your garden, pull them out or add more wood chip mulch to smoother weeds. If you notice plants wilting, you can always add more wood chip mulch to help conserve watering needs. Sign up for a free delivery of wood chips today!
WHAT IS BACK TO EDEN GARDENING?
Back to Eden Gardening is the practice of growing plants in a no-dig vegetable garden that utilizes wood chip mulch to conserve water and regenerate soil. Back to Eden Gardening is a regenerative agriculture technique that implements organic gardening principles and is considered one of the best sustainable permaculture methods for growing food. Back to Eden Gardening started because of the documentary film, BACK TO EDEN, featuring American gardener and arborist Paul Gautschi. Paul pioneered a no-dig gardening method that implements wood chip mulch to conserve water and regenerate soil. BACK TO EDEN was Produced and Directed by Dana Richardson & Sarah Zentz and released in 2011. The documentary went viral gaining millions of views and ignited a global gardening movement. Learn more about how to grow a Back to Eden Garden by watching the free documentary BACK TO EDEN.
WHAT IS NO-DIG GARDENING AND NO-TILL GARDENING?
No-dig gardening also called no-till gardening is a non-cultivation method that does not practice tilling the soil. Paul Gautchi is a no-till gardener. However, the no-dig gardening movement has a long history and famous pioneers including Masanobu Fukuoka a Japanese farmer who pioneered "do nothing farming" and Ruth Stout an American gardener who wrote the "Gardening Without Work" and "No Work Garden" book. Masanobu Fukuoka and Ruth Stout used straw as a mulch. Paul Gautschi pioneered the no-dig gardening method that uses wood chips as a mulch.
WHAT IS WOOD CHIP GARDENING?
Wood chip gardening is the practice of covering your vegetable garden and fruit orchard with wood chip mulch. Wood chips will improve your soil and regenerate the natural life in the soil instead of the use of toxic chemicals that deplete the soil and create soil loss. Sign up to get a free delivery of wood chips from your local tree service company.
ARE WOOD CHIPS GOOD FOR SOIL?
Wood chips are good for your soil and good for the environment! Wood chips dramatically reduce watering, weeding, and labor while preventing soil erosion. Wood chips are an organic, biodegradable, carbon based material that decomposes over time transforming your soil into a dark, carbon-rich, compost material. Composted mulch enriches your soil with nutrients which increases the product and quality of your plants and garden.
CAN I USE FRESH WOOD CHIPS IN MY GARDEN?
Fresh wood chips come from a renewable resource -- tree pruning waste! Back to Eden Gardening uses fresh wood chips that are 90% needles, leaves, and branches that have been chipped from tree trimming waste. It is important to understand that the leaves are a source of nitrogen and the branches are a source of carbon. This ratio creates an ideal mulch gardening material when the wood chips have composted. Paul Gautschi has multiple gardens and orchards in which he utilizes both raw, composted, and screened wood chips.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR WOOD CHIPS TO DECOMPOSE?
Wood chips start to decompose immediately and it takes wood chips at least 3 months to decompose. Composted wood chips are chipped tree trimmings that have had time to break down and have composted for at least 3 months. Your wood chips will heat up and decompose quicker in Summer months.
Get free wood chips from ChipDrop a free wood chip delivery service! The free app helps gardeners find free wood chip mulch from local tree pruning companies near their address. The wood chips are free and the delivery is free!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WOOD CHIPS?
Covering your garden landscape with wood chips will improve your soil which is practicing regenerative agriculture. Wood chips are extremely beneficial for soil regeneration which promotes healthy soil and healthy plants. Wood chips are an organic, biodegradable, carbon material that decompose over time transforming your soil into a dark, carbon rich, compost material. Composted mulch enriches your soil with nutrients which increases the product and quality of your plants and garden. Wood chips dramatically reduce watering, weeding, and labor while preventing soil erosion.
WHAT IS REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE?
Regenerative Agriculture is a farming and gardening practice that rebuilds soil and restores soil biodiversity resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. The Back to Eden Gardening technique is part of the regenerative agriculture movement. Back to Eden Gardening regenerates and revitalizes the soil and the environment. Back to Eden Gardening leads to healthy soil that is capable of producing high quality, high quantity, nutrient-rich food. Back to Eden Gardening will improve your soil leading to a productive garden and farm! Regenerative Agriculture and Back to Eden Gardening are serious solutions to climate change and desertification of the Earth.
Onion sets are now back in stock and shipping just in time for Fall planting! There are so many benefits to growing onions in your garden. The medicinal benefits of onions have been recognized since ancient times when they were used to treat headaches, heart disease, and mouth sores. They are packed with B vitamins and C and they contain over 25 antioxidants. This combination of powerful nutrients helps fight diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Onions are even believed to help prevent osteoporosis by increasing bone density and reducing oxidative stress. Onions are easy to grow and taste sweeter fresh from the garden!
Does planting onions deter garden pests? There are so also many benefits to planting them in your garden. Similarly to garlic, the naturally occurring compounds in onions can deter many pests from infesting your garden. The smell of onions helps to deter rabbits, maggots, cabbage loopers, and many other insects. They are most effective as a pest control when used with companion planting. Companion planting is the method of pairing specific types of plants next to one another to increase their health, growth, and resistance to pests. The best plants to companion plant with onions include carrots, lettuce, chamomile, beets, cabbage and parsnips. Consider planting your onion bulbs as a border to your garden bed with these companion veggies nearby.
How do I grow the best onions? The key to growing large and juicy onions is to plant early enough in your growing season and to plant in very soft soil or compost. Winter onions can be planted any time the ground can be worked – usually between October and December in most climates. In Back to Eden Gardens we recommend planting your onion sets about 1 inch below the surface, 4-5 inches apart in the soft compost below the woodchips. The woodchip covering will help retain moisture, keep the soil insulated, and prevent weeds. Add an extra layer of raw woodchip mulch if you live in colder climates. If your Back to Eden Garden is new and your soil is compact below consider a raised bed with at least 6-12 inches of compost for your onions. If your soil is not already rich, add an organic fertilizer to encourage growth. The more soft and rich the soil is, the better your onions will grow. Planting onions in compact soil and too short of a growing season are the biggest mistakes gardeners usually make. Onion sets will store in a cold dry place for up to three weeks. So make sure your gardens are ready with plenty of woodchips and compost laid down in the fall before you plant!
Back to Eden Gardening has provided epic results after our first year garden. In the Fall of 2019, we added a layer of newspaper, 4 inches of composted horse manure, and 6-12 inches of wood chip mulch onto a yard covered in tenacious grass and weeds. One year later, we are growing an organic garden that is overflowing with vegetables and fruits. Our first year garden was a success because we were able to get several FREE deliveries of wood chips after signing up for FREE to the Chip Drop App.
Fall is the perfect season to start using the Back to Eden Gardening method. Adding wood chips to your new or old garden plot will act as a slow release fertilizer, enriching the soil with rain and snow during the winter month for better gardening in the Spring. Make sure to read our Fall Back to Eden Gardening To Do List for tips on preparing your garden. Please remember that Back to Eden Gardening is a no-till gardening method. Not tilling the soil preserves and prevents the loss of topsoil and allows living microbes in the soil to cycle nutrients and maintain fertility.
As you can see in the photos, the transformation above ground is amazing but what is happening below the surface (in your soil) is key to epic gardening results! The soil before adding wood chip mulch was anaerobic hardpan clay and sand. One year later, the soil is full of life including worms and beneficial microorganisms. These results are possible when you add wood chips to your garden. You can see that the wood chip mulch begins to decompose quickly breaking down into beautiful soil.
We have tested out several wood chip delivery apps and by far the quickest and largest delivery came by using the Chip Drop App! This free app helps gardeners connect with local arborists to get a giant pile of wood chips delivered to your address for FREE. It is super quick and easy to use so hurry and sign up today!
It was 10 years ago that Mark McOmber installed a wood chip demonstration garden for the documentary BACK TO EDEN. During the last decade, Mark has grown his own vegetables and fruits while practicing the Back to Eden Gardening method. Today, Mark is launching his own YouTube channel where he will be uploading videos about "Living Life" and resting with God in the home and garden!
Watch the first video uploaded by Mark that shows how the soil has completely transformed in the last 10 years. Personally, I got goosebumps! Trust me, you have to see this! In this 25-minute video Mark also shares a plethora of gardening tips that he has learned over the years -- from DIY planting tools to teaching what wood chips are best to use in your garden.
If you have any questions, contact Mark McOmber who will answer any questions you may have!
Garlic is now back in stock and shipping just in time for Fall planting! There are so many benefits of growing garlic in your garden. During this time especially, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic are one of the top benefits. The antibacterial properties of garlic can reduce the number of colds you get and help in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections, asthma and shortness of breath. Garlic helps with bacterial, fungal, worm, yeast, viral infections, and can help prevent food poisoning when it kills bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella.
In your garden, garlic deters pests including aphids, spider mites, Japanese beetles, snails, fruit tree borers, and so much more! Moles, voles, rabbits, deer, and mice are even deterred by the smell of garlic!
What variety should I grow?
First, decide if you should grow hardneck or softneck garlic. The "neck" refers to the stalk that grows up from the center of the bulb. Hardnecks are rigid while softnecks can be braided at maturity. Hardnecks are recommended if you live in Northeastern US and Canada. Softnecks are recommended if you live in milder climates. Then you will want to decide on flavor whether you like mild, complex, or spicy garlic. It is up to your personal preference! Garlic is so easy to grow we promise you will want to grow it every year!
How do I plant garlic?
Planting garlic is simple. You break off all of the cloves from the garlic bulb. You then place them with the roots (hard bottom) facing down towards the ground and pointy top towards the surface. You will want to plant them in a hole about 2 inches deep and about 4-6 inches apart in rows. Make sure to plant them in the compost/soil below the wood chips. The wood chip mulch (about 4-6 inches thick) will aid in retaining moisture and keep the ground insulated during winter.