"One of the most beneficial things you can have for a garden are chickens." - Paul Gautschi
Why chickens? They deal with all your waste AND the eggs are great! Paul even call his chickens his "soil manufacturers."
Paul feeds his chickens all of his expired produce from the garden, grass clippings, and weeds. Whatever they leave behind turns into compost that “almost approaches top soil.” At any time of the year, you can add this compost to your garden to improve your soil.
1. Build a screen. *Make a frame that is big enough to fit on your wheel barrel. *Use a screen that’s size is 1/2”-1” should be perfect!
2. Place the screen on top of your wheel barrel.
3. Shovel your compost or composted manure on top of the screen.
4. Shake the screen back and forth, until only the coarse material remains on top.
5. Discard coarse material onto ground to continue breaking down. *Take note of the beautiful compost in your wheel barrel!
6. Repeat steps 3-5 until your wheel barrel is full of compost.
7. Unload the screened compost onto your garden.
8. Rake the compost as a layer on top of your existing soil. *Any thickness will do wonders in your garden!
By Erica Parker
Several weeks ago I saw a very interesting documentary and it has been on my mind since I saw it. The documentary is titled Back to Eden and it features home gardener Paul Gautschi and others who have discovered the benefits of using wood chips in the garden. I know this might not sound very exciting, but the documentary takes a very holistic and common sense approach to the subject of gardening in tune with nature that makes it worth watching.
The main premise of “Back to Eden” is that we should mimic what we see in nature in our gardens. Nature manages to grow the most productive ecosystems in the world with absolutely no input from man (like fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, irrigation). How? It simply recycles resources. Why shouldn’t we do the same in our gardens (and in agriculture in general)? Wouldn’t the world be a whole lot better off if we started growing food in a way that supported human health, the environment and the human spirit? I think it would.
In nature the soil is always covered unless there is some type of disturbance. This cover could be dead grass, leaves, conifer needles, fallen logs, etc. These materials act like the skin of the soil by protecting it from environmental extremes and allowing a whole host of organisms to call the soil home. Believe it or not there’s a lot more than worms in there. These organisms provide valuable services for your plants, like nutrient cycling. So, it’s in our best interest to keep the soil healthy and soil cover is an essential part of this.
While there are many options for soil cover (straw, rocks, grass clippings, leaves, etc.), wood chips are a great option because they contain a good balance of carbon to nitrogen to feed soil organisms (depending on how fresh the wood is and how much green leaf material it contains), they stay in place, and they do a good job at suppressing weeds. Also, wood chips help with moisture retention (when dry) and displacement (when very wet). You can also walk on wood chips with less compaction occurring in your soil. And when it comes time for harvest you have clean veggies! Besides chipping your own branches, a good free source of wood chips is your local tree service. Wood chips are a waste product for them and if you’re located on their route you can probably get them to deliver.
It’s important to reiterate that wood chips are a soil cover, They should not be heavily mixed into your soil. Your plants’ roots need to grow in soil and will not thrive in wood chips. A layer of wood chips on top of the soil will slowly break down and enrich your soil. Over time you can add wood chips less frequently as you’ve increased the organic matter and improved the structure and biology in your soil.
To plant into wood chips use a rake or other tool to expose the soil you want to plant into. Remember, plants grow in soil, not mulch. Wood chips along with compost easily supply all the nutrients your soil needs, so fertilizers are unnecessary. Wood chips also retain moisture in the soil helping your plants grow with even moisture and reducing/eliminating the need to water. Any weed seeds that land on top of the wood chips are less likely to germinate and survive because they are not in contact with the soil. In addition, because wood chips build porous soil it makes weeds easier to pull out. With all this said, any natural soil covering will be beneficial to your garden. So, if you don’t have easy access to wood chips, use what is available to you. Don’t leave your soil naked! I would like to thank Rodale Institute researcher, David Schmeisser, for finding this awesome documentary.
We invite you to share thanks with Paul this Thanksgiving!
Paul Gautschi is an extremely humble and generous man. As you know, he gives all the credit for his prolific garden toGod. Paul has gained a reputation as a "garden evangelist" to all those who have had the privilege of touring his Back to Eden home garden (a tour he offers for free every Sunday afternoon). He simply views this act as his personal "stewardship", sharing what he has learned with the world. We couldn't be more thankful for all the time and knowledge he freely shares!
As you know, Paul does not have a computer. Although he is aware of the magnitude of the film's outreach (he receives approximately 9 phone calls from around the world each day), it is rare that he gets to hear about and see photographs of YOUR gardens! Therefore, we are inviting you to share your journey "Back to Eden" with Paul. Maybe it's a photo of a 9 pound sweet potato! Maybe it's a before and after photo of your garden! We have all been blessed by Paul through Back to Eden Film and we would appreciate your help in telling him thanks in your own way!
If you would like to express your gratitude, you may email your photos, videos & stories to the filmmakers of Back to Eden, who will put the compilation onto a DVD (or print) to share with Paul this Thanksgiving.
*All entries must be in by November 20th!
Submit your entry here: http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/dana--sarah-films.html
If you prefer to send mail directly to Paul, you can find his mailing address here:http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/paul-gautschi.html
Back to Eden Film is being broadcast on Capetown TV on November 5, 2013 at 2:00PM. We are thrilled at this opportunity for Back to Eden gardening methods to impact Africa!
It is Fall, which for Back to Eden gardeners is the perfect time to add a covering to their garden! As Paul states, "No matter where you live, if you apply a covering to your garden, God will do the rest, and you will be blessed!” Now streaming on YouTube are two short slideshows from the filmmakers of Back to Eden documenting their two Back to Eden gardens - a regular Back to Eden garden and a raised bed garden.
Are you implementing a Back to Eden garden for the first time? Watch "How to Grow a Back to Eden Organic Garden," a short slideshow and description of how to get started and what to expect after your first year growing a Back to Eden organic garden!
Do you want to implement Back to Eden gardening methods in a raised bed? Although Paul Gautschi does not used raised beds, you may have a reason that this is the best method for you. Perhaps you have gopher or vole problems. Maybe you would rather to not bend over to garden. Watch "How to Grow a Back to Eden Raised Bed Garden," a short slideshow and description of how to apply Back to Eden gardening to a raised bed garden. As you will see, the results are just as wonderful and prolific!
Already have a Back to Eden garden? Learn how and what to add to your garden, in the Fall, by watching "How to Grow a Back to Eden Raised Bed Garden."
For more information about how to grow a Back to Eden organic garden, please visit http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/how-to-grow-an-organic-garden.html