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.
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.
RECOMMENDED SEED COMPANIES
Get $20 OFF an ARK Heirloom Seed Kit using the code: WOODCHIPS
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.
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!
Now that mid-August is here it's time to start planning your fall garden! Although the timing to plant fall crops varies depending on your climate, now is the time to start preparing your fall starters and gathering your fall crop seeds to plant for an abundant fall harvest. In late summer while filming Back to Eden, Paul Gautschi showed us how he plants his potatoes, garlic, cilantro, spinach, beets, carrots, lettuces, kale, and other fall crops. Paul allows many of these crops to "overwinter" meaning to plant them in the fall and harvest them in the spring. Specifically, he taught us that beets and carrots get sweeter with the cold weather and potatoes and garlic love staying put during the long winter growing season in Back to Eden Gardens.
Where should I get my seeds to plant for my fall garden? This year, many of our trusted heirloom seed suppliers are running completely out of stock of seed for many crop varieties. Shortages in some food and seed supplies are expected to continue this coming year. Fortunately, the Back to Eden Organic Farmers that founded ARK Heirloom Seeds has got us all covered! ARK Heirloom Seeds has worked tirelessly all summer to maintain a high-quality supply of heirloom seeds to provide for the Back to Eden Gardening community. Their kits were specially designed to sustain your food supply in times of food scarcity and disaster, lasting for 10+ years. We have been keeping busy planting their seeds and enjoying their abundant harvest all summer with incredible results! The ARK ALL-IN-ONE SEED KIT includes a wide assortment of seeds for all growing seasons. Growing your own food from seed saves the an average of $3,000 per year in grocery bills!
The seed varieties that are highlighted in green below are good seeds to plant now for your fall garden:
THE ALL-IN-ONE HEIRLOOM SEED KIT INCLUDES: 1200 4‐7 Dry Bean Varieties, 300 Field Corn, 100 Sweet Corn *, 200 Snap Peas, 200 Dry Peas, 100 Butternut Squash, 50 Hubbard Squash, 50 Zucchini Squash, 50 Sugar Pie Pumpkin, 200 Sugar Baby Watermelon, 50 Cantaloupe, 50 Honey Dew Melon, 50 Bell Pepper, 50 Habanero Pepper, 50 Cheyenne Pepper, 1000 Parsnips, 300 Beets, 500 Yellow Onions, 200 Red Onions, 400 Spinach, 500 Radish, 1350 Turnips, 1000 Mustard, 200 Pickling Cucumbers, 50 Eggplant, 900 Curled Kale, 100 Dinosaur Kale, 5000 4 Lettuce Varieties, 500 Arugula, 1000 Broccoli, 1350 Cabbage, 2500 Carrots, 200 Swiss Chard, 200 Brussel Sprouts, 500 Rutabaga, 200 Leeks, 600-800 8 Tomato Varieties, 30,000 16 Varieties of Culinary & Medicinal Herbs
50,000 TOTAL SEEDS!
ARK Heirloom Seeds is offering a $20 discount code for their All-in-One Heirloom Seed Kits to Back to Eden subscribers. Click the button below. Add the kit to your cart. At checkout, enter the coupon code "woodchips" to redeem the offer of a $20 discount!
Happy fall gardening Back to Eden Gardeners! Share this article with your friends and family to bless them with the gift of learning to grow their own food today!
How to Hand Pollinate Squash for a Superior Harvest
Hand pollinating summer squash is easier than you might think. It's vital to have the flowers pollinated for a productive harvest. Typically this will be done by bees, butterflies, and other insects. However if you are finding that your squash are not growing well, rotting, or falling off small you might have a problem with pollination. The easiest way to pollinate squash plants for having the highest yields is by hand. The first important step is to understand that there are male flowers and female flowers. The male flowers are the ones with the long skinny stems that will not turn into fruit below the flower. Only the female flowers can bear fruit. When you look at the female flowers they should have a small tiny fruit growing below the flower and a stigma inside the center of the flower. You can pick the male flower, peel back the petals and simply touch it to the female stigma a couple of times as if you are brushing paint. Do not remove the female flower. The goal is to transfer some pollen from the male flower onto the female flower, it really is just as easy as that! The positive results you will see in your garden include more fruits per plant and an earlier harvest.
No matter if you are a beginner gardener or an experienced gardener, you will find that Back to Eden Gardening is easy one of the easiest methods of gardening with the best results.
What is Back to Eden Gardening?
Back to Eden Gardening is a no-till, regenerative agriculture method and made popular in the documentary Back to Eden featuring Paul Gautschi. This means if you are tilling, using toxic chemicals (chemical herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers), you are not practicing the Back to Eden Gardening method. Back to Eden Gardens respect that every plant, animal, insect, and microorganism has a beneficial purpose and works to achieve balance and sustainability in the soil. You will see amazing results in the fertility and health of your soil! Healthy soil is the essential key to growing vegetables and fruits that taste amazing and have a greater nutritional value. Unlike conventional gardening and traditional farming methods Back to Eden Gardening requires less and less input over time with a higher and higher yield every year.
GARDEN SUPPLIES to Start a Vegetable Garden
Soil, Mulch, and Fertilizer
1. GET MULCH FOR A VEGETABLE GARDEN
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. Back to Eden Gardening uses 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. Learn more about the best type of wood chips for your garden by clicking here.
Composted animal manure is a clean, natural fertilizer that can be used in a vegetable garden. Let animal manure compost or you may be planting grass and weed seeds!
If you are going to turn a lawn or weed infested are into garden plot smothering the weed seeds is a must! We recommend that you apply at least 4 sheets of paper that overlap. Then, wet down the newspaper so it adheres to the ground below and doesn't blow away.
When installing a no-till vegetable garden, the number one rule is to always avoid disturbing the soil, mimic the design of nature. How do you prepare the soil? You always add layers of compost, and composted animal manure and cover the soil with mulch. The most commonly used mulch in Back to Eden Gardening is wood chips. However, find whatever resource is local to you. For example, straw is also a popular mulch. There is almost always a FREE option when it comes to Back to Eden Gardening.
1. WHEEL BARREL
If you are a beginner gardener you may feel overwhelmed at thought of moving an entire wood chip pile but moving wood chips is not as hard as you'd think! Using a wheel barrel makes moving wood chips a low stress work out. If you get the help of a few friends of family members you can move a mountain of wood chips in just a few hours. Or take your time, move it little by little! If you live on a larger property or have access to a Front End Loader Tractor this will be a more practical way to cover a large scale garden or small farm.
2. MULCH SHOVEL & MULCH FORK
A mulch shovel and mulch fork make scooping the wood chips easy. Using a regular shovel is very challenging due to the chips and twigs getting stuck or jammed and the scoops not being large enough.
3. GARDEN RAKE
A garden rake allows you to spread the wood chips easily on top of your garden without disturbing the soil. It also helps to make rows when planting!
4. GARDEN HOSE & SPRINKLER
Back to Eden Gardening reduced garden irrigation needs up to 90% ! That is because the mulch layer retains moisture that would otherwise evaporate and the wood chips retain water they release slowly into the soil even after you stopped watering. However, to get your seeds germinated you should water them every day until they germinate! Make sure to use a hose head sprinkler that allows you adjust the setting to a light mist or shower spray. It is a common mistake to loose seeds in the mulch by planting too deeply or watering too heavily and therefore they won't germinate. OPTIONAL: Add a water filter on to your garden hose to reduce chlorine, VOCs, herbicides, and pesticides.
1. GARDEN GLOVES
It is a great idea to invest in garden gloves to protect your hands while maintaining your garden!
2. PH SOIL TEST KIT
How To START a Vegetable Garden
Ideally we recommend starting a Back to Eden Garden in the Fall (September-December), mimicking when nature covers the ground with needles, leaves, and branches. This is beneficial because when you lay down your covering layer of newspaper, compost and wood chips in the fall the organic matter has time to break down with the rain and snow during the winter, giving your soil more time to improve and decomposing the wood chips, leaves, newspaper into composted material.