Some people don’t want to do the research or don’t pay attention to detail which have created critics of the method. This is not just throwing down wood chips and you’re done, however it is simple. If you look at the section on How to Grow Your Own Organic Garden and throughout the movie it tells you that your first layer is newspaper (reduce weeds), compost (the free compost from our Orange Country landfill is great stuff), wood chips of various sizes and topped with chicken manure (or in my case we have a rabbit) – makes for a great garden and keeps the moisture in the ground longer, while also reducing the amount of weeds. However, make sure you plant your seeds or transplants in the soil/compost section, not in the wood chips as the roots won’t have a solid enough foundation.
I realized I was sort of doing this method by accident. Since I don’t have the ‘back’ to use a rototiller on my community garden plots I have been layering by default. One of the great things about being in a garden community (online or in person) I learned about free compost from our local landfill which has saved me a ton of money from buying soil in bags. In addition, I’ve been layering with the free hay bales that we get from our annual Fall Festival. The hay breaks down over time and I use them to surround the plots to reduce weeds. In addition, I was using vegetable scraps and rabbit manure for composting but now I give the vegetable scraps to the worms. I have a worm composting bin which makes a great circle-of-life where what I grow in the garden is what we eat, as well as the bunny eats and his ‘stuff’ goes back to the garden as compost as well as the scraps are fed to the worms and their ‘stuff’ goes back as worm casting compost. It turns out I’ve been doing this layering method for years without knowing that there was a movement called the Back to Eden Film method.
After watching this documentary on the Back to Eden gardening I finally realized why my garden did so well even though I was physically unable to manage my plots for nearly three months. I thought I was surely going to return to a lot of back breaking, ground digging work but to my surprise my garden had very little weeds. In addition, I could only depend on the rain that we had for water, which has been very low in our area for several years, yet my vegetables grew very well. I had covered the compost with hay, except where the plants were growing and the weeds were nearly extinct except for some of the areas that were not covered. However, even those parts which had compost that looks like dirt, as the wood chips are well decomposed at the landfill, only had a few weeds. You can follow this link to Back to eden film main site
I’m going to continue the Back to Garden Film method of gardening in my home containers on my patio and have already created some self-watering containers from buckets I got at the Dollar Tree store since they don’t get rained on. I hope you’ll try this method out and reduce your use of water and maintenance on your home garden. Let me know what you think or if you’ve used this method in the comments below.
Monica Lehua is a native of Hawaii and now resides in Orlando, Fla. She’s taken some of the methods of gardening that she’s learned from her family of agriculturalists: farmers and simple home gardeners and tweaked it to fit the central Florida climate. Need more information about muclhing? there are other articles about mulching your garden!