Written By Kevin Author and Creator of Epic Gardening
Have you heard of the Back to Eden gardening method? If not, you should. This gardening technique will greatly improve your soil tilth and fertility over time. It promises a major reduction in tough weeds and the ability to grow almost everywhere. Water conservationists should rejoice, as this technique is great for drought conditions.
But what exactly is the Back To Eden gardening method? Let’s break it down to a barebones layout of how it works and how to do your own. It does take time, but it will reduce your labor over future years and make gardening an enjoyable, easy task.
Back to Eden gardening is a layering method which develops good soil structure. Source: Wellington Family Farm
I had the pleasure a year ago of viewing the "Back to Eden" documentary on the work of Paul Gautschi's carbon-centric gardening methods in the northwest. While Gautschi is essentially a vegetarian and I may not agree with every little thing he says, I think he's onto something revolutionary in gardening.
In many ways, it's a permutation of the Ruth Stout "No Work Garden Book," which rocked the organic gardening world 50 years ago. Essentially, this method uses year-round mulch rather than tillage to keep and prepare the garden. It eliminates soil moisture fluctuations and suppresses weeds. But in Gautschi's idea, the mulch is wood chips rather than leaves and grasses like Ruth Stout used. When I was in Australia recently, I spent a morning with a handful of young produce farmers who were using his methods and the plants looked spectacular.
Gautschi's story is compelling, simple, and practical. I was mesmerized by this documentary. I don't watch films much--of any stripe. So to watch it and not turn it off was truly remarkable. I encourage anyone currently gardening or contemplating having one to watch this documentary. You won't forget it.
Film Review by Eric Vinje; Planet Natural
In the battle over what constitutes healthy food, it’s no longer surprising to see the documentary film as an effective weapon, most often deployed on the side against corporate agriculture and for public health and well-being. Films including Food Inc (watch it here), 2004′s Supersize Me, a month of nothing but McDonald’s, and most recently Fed Up which implicates a government-corporate collaboration to promote and reward refined sugar, are all convincing, visual arguments of the dangers of the commercial food culture.
Broadly about food, these films are specifically about processed foods, organic and locally raised farming, the health consequences of certain refined foods and fast-food diets. Related films include GMO/OMG , a study of the corporate takeover of farming through seed production, GMOs, and related pesticides. Now even documentaries championing organic gardening are getting into the act.
One of the better gardening films is 2011′s Back To Eden from producers/directors Dana Richardson & Sarah Zentz. It’s the first film that I know of that makes mulch a superstar.
Back To Eden is about Paul Gautschi, called a “garden evangelists” by one person in the film, a man whose enthusiasm is as great as any you might have seen even though its directed at such a non-enthusiasm generating subject as garden mulch. God is the real co-star in this film, the designer of the original sustainable landscape whose secrets are there for those looking to find them. “God is a good guy,” Gautschi states at one point. “He gave us a sweet tooth.”
That secrets revealed to Gautschi start in a visit to the forest. There he discovers trees growing from a wonderful carpet of compost and organic matter. He decides to recreate those conditions in his garden. Followup lessons from on high include how deeply and in which layer to plant seed (in the soil, not the mulch on top) and that big wood chips will exhaust the soil of nitrogen as they slowly break down.
What Gautschi does is keep his soil protected under a layer of composted chips, shavings, and saw dust. And this results in something of a Xeric miracle. He never waters either his fruit trees or his vegetables. And he gets superb harvests. The general idea is similar to the technique of sheet composting, otherwise called the “no-dig” method. Gautschi claims to use nothing but a rake — not a spade, not a fork, not a hoe — in his garden.
Gautschi is also expert at composting. He includes nitrogen-providing greens to his wood chip browns and adds some manure, just as he did with his dad’s garden when a kid. He shows why adding a bunch of organic material to soil results in hard-pack at the end of the season. Hint: the answer has to do with having a variety of different-sized material in your compost to help hold oxygen and moisture.
Now it’s true that Gautschi has some regional advantages working for him. He lives on a homestead above Sequim, Washington on the state’s Olympic Peninsula. There’s plenty of wood chips and saw dust available because of the area’s abundant forests. A timber mill brings it in by the truckload and even though its in the “rain shadow” caused by the mountains wringing moisture from the clouds passing over them on the way to Sequim, it still gets some 16 inches a year. The cool, often cloudy climate helps keep evaporation down.
Yet his garden truly is a miracle and his method above reproach. We’d do some things differently. He keeps wide rows between his plants so that he can run the roto-tiller through. We’d mulch narrow paths between our vegetables and hope that kept the weeds down. And we’re curious about any pH adjustment he might do. He mentions pH balance among his principles at the beginning of the film but doesn’t address it later. Knowing soil conditions in the Great Northwest with its abundance of cedar and fir needles, we’d guess he’s throwing a lot of lime into his compost to keep the acid down.
Still, in a garden -specific way, this is a very charming and inspiring film. Mulches are important but there is a proper (and simple) way to use them. Gautschi himself is the most entertaining component of the film. His enthusiasm is contagious — “it’s like over-the-top-awesome,” he describes the taste of one vegetable — and his spiritual connection to his garden becomes something of a metaphor. The filmmakers have given us a fascinating look at this curious personality, a look you can enjoy even if you’re not of the same persuasion.
The film is available for free viewing online at the Back To Eden website above. Let us know what you think. I’m especially interested in people’s experience with mulch, what you use and where you get it. Water savings? Now that’s something we’d really like to hear about.
FULL ARTICLE: http://www.planetnatural.com/back-to-eden-film/
Back to Eden Documentary: Free Online Streaming
by Organic Gardens Network
Since the online premier of Back to Eden in 2011, the film has garnered the interest of over 2 million viewers in 210 countries! When filming Paul Gautschi at his garden on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, we never imagined such a global response! To us, this is proof that people are hungry for sustainable organic gardening methods that are capable of being implemented in diverse climates around the world.
According to the book, "Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Food Gardening in America," in the past five years there's been a 17 percent increase in food gardening. Our belief is that Back to Eden has played a significant role in the increase of food gardening!
Streaming online for free 24/7, the film is a gardening resource that teaches how to eliminate all of the work associated with growing food!
Following in the footsteps of Ruth Stout (No Work Garden Book) and Masanobu Fukuoka (One Straw Revolution), Paul Gautschi is leading a new revolutionary movement in the organic gardening community.
Endorsed by the National Gardening Association, Organic Consumers Association and featured in magazines such as Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening NZ, the film is continuing to impact the way food is grown around the world.
Our hope is that people are being connected with what Paul calls "live food." Simply put, fruits and vegetables that are full of nutrients because they are growing in the richest compost with a protective covering.
The health benefits and disease prevention from eating live food is undeniable. So please, watch the film, implement a Back to Eden garden, and get connected to nature and optimal health!
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.
See ‘Back to Eden’ Film to Learn About Using Wood Chip Mulch
By Barbara Pleasant
As a big fan of wood chip mulch, I watched with great interest the popular documentary film Back to Eden, the first-ever feature-length movie on mulch. The Back to Eden film profiles the wood-chip-mulched garden of Paul Gautschi, a devout Christian who grows vegetables and fruits on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The film’s producer, evangelist Michael Barrett, wisely enlisted the help of Dana Richardson and Sarah Zentz of ProVisions Productions to make the film, which can be viewed free at backtoedenfilm.com.
The result is an interesting 103-minute film that balances Gautschi’s religious interpretation of wood chip mulch with comments by soil experts, organic farmers, and the stable owner where Gautschi gets his horse manure.
Mentioning horse manure up front gives away part of the plot, but experienced organic gardeners may find Gautschi’s opening claims that his garden needs no fertilizer too off-putting to continue. A Bible whiz, Gautschi considers wood chip mulch a gift from God that is being released at the perfect time in history, no fertilizer required. Relax. Thirty minutes into the film we meet the chickens — perhaps 30 of them — and watch our hero composting their manure. Pardon the correction, but for several thousand years people have called this substance fertilizer. Ditto for the horse manure previously mentioned.
Back to Eden is worth staying with because of the astute observations made by the many people involved in Gautschi’s circle of mulch. Speaking from a mountain of wood chips, organic farmer Justin Riddle uses the phrase “passive tillage” to explain how the combination of root crops and deep wood chip mulch is opening up his compacted soil. In an area that receives less than 20 inches of rain each year, Riddle notes that wood chip mulch radically reduces the need to water many crops. Nurseryman Ji Douglas appears several times in the film, eloquently explaining how wood chip mulch increases the oxygen supply in the soil, which in turn attracts microbes and earthworms, and other fundamental aspects of wood chip mulch ecology.
The film moves on to the next logical question — How will this work in other places? — when a family from Pennsylvania starts a wood mulch garden with similar missionary zeal. Here things get gritty as we learn there is more involved in going “back to Eden” than spreading wood chips.
To read my feature-length article on using wood chip mulch in your garden, see Use Wood Chip Mulch to Build Better Garden Soil.
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/back-to-eden-film-wood-chip-mulch-zb0z1306zsto.aspx#ixzz2XYdLI5PG
by Julian Cribb, Author of “The Coming Famine: the global food crisis and what we can do to avoid it”
In coming decades the world faces enormous challenges in feeding itself. Not only will our demand for food double – but many of the basic resources we use to produce it will become scarce, including land, water, oil and petrochemicals and fertilizers. We need to reinvent agriculture to a form that is sustainable and not reliant on things that run out. That is more in tune with natural systems. We also need a cleaner, healthier and more nutritious diet than our present one, which is costing so many lives and causing so much ill-health. Paul Gautschi is a man committed to this dream; through sensitive observation of Nature and hard, intelligent work he has developed a self-sustaining food producing system which operates on many of the principles required by this new agriculture. His bountiful garden is a place that inspires faith in our common future.
by Dr. Vard Gainor
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the movie "Back to Eden," which returns us to, and reveals God's way of bringing forth His provision verses man's way. In essence "tending" verses "plowing and breaking." I had a particular interest in reviewing this film since I hold advanced degrees in agriculture, specializing in the chemistry of cereal grains. I also served as a senior manager in the food industry for 25 years covering areas from basic research to the "Food For Peace" Program. During this time I was always concerned about the diminishing returns and the short-sightedness of mankind's efforts. It seemed that our present-day concepts of corporate agriculture and processed food based on chemical growth regulators and herbicides, in addition to molecular modifications to basic foods, were slowly bringing mankind into bondage. Mankind's efforts were creating new problems without solutions.Viewing "Back to Eden" by ProVisions Productions was an incredible revelation of the simplicity and power of following God's path to health and abundance. The simplicity of using wood (twig and leaf) chips to cover the land to restore health instead of breaking and exposing the land was a concept I had never thought of before. I believed in mulching tilled land, but had never considered wood chips as a top-dressing for untilled land. The results speak for themselves. "Back to Eden" is a pathway where man can be restored to tending the garden instead of operating under the curse of tilling the land.
"Back to Eden" is a smooth-flowing documentary that is captivating from the first minute to the last. It moves from presenting the concept of wood chipping through answering questions most gardeners would have. It is also filled with revelation concerning God's creation that many of us do not consider due to our education and traditions. I found "Back to Eden" refreshing and fast-moving even though it has a gentle cadence throughout. This is a movie that needs to be seen by anyone who is concerned about future food availability and safety.
by Dr. Sam Soleyn
Paul’s passion for gardening and the Lord are infectious, and his knowledge, sought and received through revelation by the Holy Spirit, is invaluable. God created the earth to house physical allegories of heaven’s transcendent qualities. So, God often explains great truths of heaven through references to the plant and animal kingdom. The revelation contained in the "Back to Eden" film highlights the state of mankind’s self-reliance for provision and protection in contrast to God’s original intent that creation be self-perpetuating to house mankind for our original destiny. That this information is now being spread worldwide correlates with the return of the culture of the House of God to the earth; the original culture that existed in Eden and has been renewed through Christ. Paul’s spiritual insights represent a mystery “which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit . . .” (Eph. 3:5). From my travels, I can see how the application of these techniques may be used worldwide to facilitate God's provision for his children. This is not just a film for the Body of Christ, but a film for a generation seeking the return of the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven to the earth.