Back to Eden Gardening Thread~Note: pic heavy thread.

Beekissed

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Someone asked and I waited a bit to see if anyone else would, but they didn't. :D So, whilst resting my overworked knees, I will get one rolling. Please feel free to add your BTE here, pics and videos are most helpful, but explanations work too. I'm sure there are other people out there who are more successful than I am at this method and it would really encourage folks to see some good BTE gardens on here .

Here's the film I watched that started me on this path:

http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/

That was three years ago....unfortunately, I first watched it mid to late winter, so the bee got in my bonnet and I couldn't get it out. Instead of waiting until fall to start it, I tilled up my heavy clay garden 5 times and then started putting on chips~not the recommended start but I rarely do things the way people recommend. :confused:

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The first loads of chips were really crappy, no greens in them at all, huge pieces of wood from crappy chippers. I rented a UHaul utility trailer and drove about 100 mi. round trip three times in one day to get those chips...had some help from my family on loading and unloading or I could never have done it.
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Then came the spreading of the chips evenly...that took some time, some work, still haven't gotten them evenly spread after 3 yrs. :gig The woman you will see in these pics is the Ol' Bat, my 82 yr old gem of a mother...the work horse on this homestead!

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Not recommended to plant into fresh chips but I did anyway, using plenty of chicken litter as side dressing.

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It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be and we got decent crops but not as good as traditional tilling and growing in this plot had been.

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The flowers loved it, in the veggie garden and also in the beds around the house.

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The second spring things didn't grow as well and I got blight all over the garden....I had dumped around 200 bags of leaves there, let them sit all winter and few composted, then removed most of them before planting. BAD year, lots of weeds, lots of bugs, lots of fungal infection....don't put leaves on top of your chips. That leaves a layer of stuff composting on TOP of the chip layer, where weed seeds can get a good grip...ordinarily the chip layer is supposed to suppress most of that kind of growth. Bad idea and I'm still paying for that in this third spring.

Will be placing more crappy chips on top of that layer of compost this year in an attempt to restore the balance there. Ideally, one would want ramial wood chips, with all the leaves and end branches ground up in the chips for added nutritional compost as the chips decompose, but that's not always possible.

Our biggest problem thus far for this type of gardening and seems to be the problem of most other people? Getting chips. Out in the country, and especially if one lives way back from the hard road, chips are like the Holy Grail. I've only had 2 loads delivered here for free and that I didn't have to fetch myself and those were just freak accidents of power lines back here being cleared.

Will post more pics as we go along, of the before and after on the soil quality, of other growth, of the weed removal....yep, don't let anyone tell you that you won't get weeds in the garden with this method. Weeds love compost too! They are just really, really easy to pull out of the garden now and kind of fun, especially if it's big clumps. :D

I've made a lot of mistakes with this method and am still learning as I go along. I'm still not sure about what I've done here~some of it I love, some the jury is still out on~ but now I'm committed to it and there's no going back. If you are unsure, it's best to do a test portion of your garden to see if you will like it, if it will work for you, so you can compare it with growth in traditional till gardening, etc.
 

Britesea

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I don't believe it's possible to have any garden, of whatever style, without weeds. If it's soil that your desired plants can grow in, then it's soil that weeds can grow in as well. Mulches, compost, etc... but as @Beekissed says, the weeds can be very easy to pull. And don't forget that many weeds have medicinal uses. I always keep a shopping bag with me when I weed, to sort out the weeds I want to keep.
 

Beekissed

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This pic shows the state of my soil after tilling it thoroughly 5 times, then after a couple of rains. This is a corner that I didn't have the chips spread to yet. I had to stand on this fork to get it even that deep and I'm a BIG gal....instant hard pan!

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I kind of let some weeds go that first year, for some reason or another, and found they were a delight to pull up! Also found a huge difference in the color and texture of my topsoil by fall of that first year.

Five months later I could see a difference in the top soil layer and also in how deeply I could put that fork, without even putting my weight on it.

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When I pulled those weeds they came out like a knife out of butter and I found this rich, black looking stuff on the roots....

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Never saw soil like THAT in this garden....no matter how many amendments and mulches I had tried on that garden space in the past~hay, straw, composted manure, green manure, biochar, etc.

So I pulled several barrows of this.....

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Put it in the coop....

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.... to make more of this, to put right back on the garden....

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That's sort of how my DL system works and this is how this type of gardening works....any garden debris is added to the DL, any removal of nicely composted DL~no piling it up and waiting for it to be okay to put on the garden~is placed on the garden.
 

Beekissed

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YW! When LG, Free and Bay start to post about their BTE, you'll get to see more varied experiences with this method. I'm just in my third spring on it so I haven't had the experience with it that some have had.
 

Chic Rustler

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This is awesome! Im hoping to get something close to this with my chicken coop/ garden plot. This is my first year though and i figure anything i get will be more than i had when i started.

I need to get my lazy butt out there right now and finish spreading wood chips....
 

Chic Rustler

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This pic shows the state of my soil after tilling it thoroughly 5 times, then after a couple of rains. This is a corner that I didn't have the chips spread to yet. I had to stand on this fork to get it even that deep and I'm a BIG gal....instant hard pan!

View attachment 2861

I kind of let some weeds go that first year, for some reason or another, and found they were a delight to pull up! Also found a huge difference in the color and texture of my topsoil by fall of that first year.

Five months later I could see a difference in the top soil layer and also in how deeply I could put that fork, without even putting my weight on it.

View attachment 2858

When I pulled those weeds they came out like a knife out of butter and I found this rich, black looking stuff on the roots....

View attachment 2856
Never saw soil like THAT in this garden....no matter how many amendments and mulches I had tried on that garden space in the past~hay, straw, composted manure, green manure, biochar, etc.

So I pulled several barrows of this.....

View attachment 2857
View attachment 2859
Put it in the coop....

View attachment 2860

.... to make more of this, to put right back on the garden....

View attachment 2855

That's sort of how my DL system works and this is how this type of gardening works....any garden debris is added to the DL, any removal of nicely composted DL~no piling it up and waiting for it to be okay to put on the garden~is placed on the garden.



Would this work with weeds and stuff like that? I have a lot of tall weeds on my fence line. It would be nice to find a use for them
 

Beekissed

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Most folks would say that composting weeds and then adding the compost to your garden will cause more weeds but I haven't noticed that at all....the grasses that seemed to grow that first season were composted in the coop and were not the same weeds/grasses that seemed to occur the second season. Each year they all seem different.

One thing I did learn about composting in the coop....do NOT put your tomato canning scraps in the DL in the coop! :th The first year I did that, I had millions of volunteer tomatoes in the garden....I was pulling up those little guys all season. I let some of them grow if they were in the right place and they were healthier than most of the tomato plants I intentionally planted but it was still a bad, bad idea.
 

sumi

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Interesting way to grow tomatoes! lol

This is all great info, Beekissed, thanks for sharing!
 
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