“Go out to where nature has not been disturbed, look at what it is doing and copy it!” – Paul Gautschi
Four years ago I happened upon Paul Gautschi’s film, Back to Eden. You can watch the film for FREE here. This is not your average documentary. I would call it more of a game-changer. I can’t even remember why it is that I first watched it, but I do recall about 10 minutes in, I was having an entire paradigm shift about gardening and the outdoor world.
“BACK TO EDEN shares the story of one man’s lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple, productive methods of sustainable provision that were given to man in the garden of Eden.”
Okay… that description from Back to Eden sounds rather vague. What is this movie about?
- A better way to garden
- Aligning oneself with the Master Gardener, and recognizing His plan extends to everything, yes, even the soil.
- Duplicating the same easy, simplistic organic growing techniques that God has used as his blueprint for Nature.
- How to create a self-sustaining, self-nourishing, and self-watering garden plot or orchard.
- Saving yourself time, money, and backbreaking labor
So what was so mind blowing about it? Well, quite truly, it was because everything that Paul points out and uses is so OBVIOUS! So many times I found myself saying out loud, “well of course!! DUH! Why didn’t I think of that before?!?!”. It is such beautiful evidence that God has placed before and around us everything that we already need for our survival and growth, whether it is food for nourishment, plants for medicine, or even the way to care for those plants. One thing he mentioned that he does is gives his chickens everything that he wants composted. Everything. That means all the greens, weeds, scraps, you name it. He has no compost pile other than his chickens. And once they’ve pecked it, scratched it, eaten it and pooped it out, he takes the waste from their run, screens it and adds it to his garden. Voila… chicken manure and compost in one go. Seriously, that was a real “duh!” moment for me. I always thought you needed a compost pile AND chickens like everyone else. But yeah, why not combine them and let the chickens do all the work? When we got chickens, I adopted this chicken/compost merger immediately.
“The ground is a living organism. As all living organisms, God has designed and made it so it is always covered with something. It’s all about the covering!”
– Paul Gautschi
How Do You Get Back to Eden? You can read more about Paul’s steps here.
1. Get Connected
2. Get “The Covering”
3. Apply “The Covering”
4. Plant Seeds
5. Nourish Your New Growth
7. Reap a Bountiful Harvest
8. Reapply “The Covering”
So what the deuce is “the covering”? Well, bluntly… it’s mulch. Composted mulch. Fresh mulch. Green mulch. Brown mulch. Fresh mulch. Old mulch. Mulch anyway you can get it.
I’m very fortunate that I was in the perfect position to implement this method. On our acreage, we had a few acres cleared by a mulcher, so it was basically raw, undisturbed forest floor. I had been agonizing over how to turn it into good dirt. Well, then I knew to use Paul’s… I mean, GOD’S method!
So how has this method changed my way of gardening?
- We recycled our forest. Initially, when we had our land cleared with a mulcher, my husband scooped up as much rough mulch as he could and made some large mulch piles. These sat for almost two years composting, before we brought them over to the garden spot. And once there they sat over the winter decomposing more. When summer came, I spread the mulch out to be almost 2 feet thick above the pre-existing ground.
- I Don’t Till My Garden! First year, I planted directly in it by simply making a slight trough or holes for my plants/seeds. I had some acidity issues and the nitrogen was still being held by the woody material so I fertilized with a lot of chicken manure. It was still a bit “woody” that first year, but by the second year the mulch had decayed enough I could call it soil. And it was perpetually light and fluffy. ZERO compaction.
- I Stopped Fertilizing! 2015 was the second year of planting directly in it, and I was thrilled to see my mulch had birthed mushrooms everywhere – this is a good sign, it means mulch was decaying to the point that it was releasing nitrogen well … and sure enough, I did not need to fertilize at all last year.
- I Stopped Watering! 2015 was a horrific drought year for Alberta. All around us fields were parched, and people were letting their lawns die and gardens were having a paltry harvest… but my garden was thriving, and I watered only initially to establish the plants. The ground was moist all summer from that mulch covering.
- I Don’t Buy Soil or Fertilizer. Now, I call the tree-trimming company that services our county early in the spring and let them know I want a bunch of loads of mulch through the summer. They are happy to oblige me, and I get FREE mulch delivered by the big truckload. It sits and composts for a year and then I use it to top dress and spread out the following year.
- I Like Weeding Now. True, really. The weeds are SO easy to remove now! I actually wait until they’ve gotten bigger so I can go and yank them in a real satisfying manner. And do you want to know something really
lazycool? Sometimes I just leave the pulled up weeds there, lying on the mulch… so they can shrivel up and start to become mulch themselves.
When I was growing up, I helped my mother with the back breaking task of roto-tilling every year. Forking the hard, compacted garden over. Using a hoe to hack away at the weeds. It was daunting. So when I got a garden of my own, I determined that it didn’t need to be so oppressive. I tried raised beds, Lasagna Gardening, Square Foot Gardening… but this has been the most satisfying and permanent way yet. I have been forever changed.
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