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Back to Eden

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:30 pm
by 4seasons
After years of fighting gardening the old fashion way I was getting really flustered with the constant work of weeding, fertilizing, tilling and still getting dimensioning returns. Unfortunately I did not read up here enough before starting my garden again this year and I am still fighting the same battle this year. I see that Matt and some others have put lots of the ideas in this video to use, but it wasn't until a neighbor told me about this video that I really started to realize how wrong about my garden I have been. This is a very long video, but there is a ton of info in it. If the link doesn't work, just google "Back To Eden"

Re: Back to Eden

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:38 pm
by matt walker
Hi 4, great to see you. Yeah, I'm in the same area as Paul and have started getting wood chips from the same supplier. I'm totally backing that technique, it's been working very well for me, although I obviously am doing things a bit differently. There is some great info info in that video.

Re: Back to Eden

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:53 pm
by mannytheseacow
Oh jeez, I just did it. Spent 1:43 minutes watching that video. Personally I could do without the preaching, though admittedly after a while I was starting to enjoy the repetitious opportunity to go top off my beer.

Seriously, though, yeah there's a lot of good information there. Especially if you're coming from the traditional roto-till and weeding method. I stumbled on this same technique where I had piled the chaff from splitting wood and then later needed a spot to plant some herbs close to the kitchen. I stuck them down into the soil below the chaff knowing it wouldn't grow there and had pretty good luck.

One comment on this method, I heard many times in the video where Paul talks about no inputs. Hats off to that guy and all he is doing, but there are still a serious amount of inputs. Cutting the wood, grinding it, hauling it, spreading it. If you have easy access to chips this would work great for you, but it wouldn't take long for this to catch on and the availability of chips to deplete pretty quickly. I much prefer a real no-input method- throw the seeds in, let it grow.

I had to really appreciate a part in the video about 2/3 through where Paul talks about putting too much work in, getting frustrated, and then quitting and going back later to start again. I had a day like that today and needed that reminder. Things are supposed to be easy and when we put too much effort forcing things that aren't supposed to be difficult it's time to take a breather.

Thanks for sharing that 4 seasons. ;)

Re: Back to Eden

PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:18 am
by George Collins
I have a two test plots running simultaneously. The first is a Ruth Stout garden plot and the second is a Back to Eden garden plot. I planted tomatoes and peppers in both plots and compared (via eyeballing) the results.

From what I can tell, both methods work equally well.

However, part of my decision making process, part of what drove me towards permaculture was the study of survival skills. Every gardening decision I make is driven by the paradigm of true self sustainability. For instance, if dreaded EMP were to happen tomorrow, which gardening method would I be able to sustain as far into the future as possible with the fewest off-farm inputs.

Wood chips are hard to come by in a world without the internal combustion engine. They would be dang nigh impossible to produce for yourself. Additionally, a BTEG requires the addition of nitrogen. Paul uses chicken manure to satisfy that requirement.

So, the BTEG (as actually practiced by Paul Gautsci) seems, to me, wholly impractical for long-term self sustainability.

The Ruth Stout method on the other hand lends itself quite nicely to one being able to feed one's self and family for a vast time period with fewest off-farm inputs. All that is required for Mrs. Stout's method is hay and the only thing required to produce hay is an edged tool. The perfect tool for that job appears to be a scythe. A scythe is on the short list of things to acquire. Obviously, a scythe is an off-farm input but it is a one-time off-farm input that will last for how many years?

So, while I'm not about to undo the BTEG plot, I will most likely never expand it. The Ruth Stout garden plot just got greatly expanded. The next test as it relates to the Ruth Stout garden will be to see how large and area Is required to harvest hay sufficient to cover each 100 square feet of garden space and how many hours worth of work is required with a scythe, rake and a wheel barrow to do so.

Re: Back to Eden

PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:36 pm
by matt walker
I can't do straw mulch here. It provides the perfect cover for rodents, and keeps them warm enough they overwinter in it. I look at the woodchips as a first step/jump start in the succession of my plantings, which I think is where I depart from the BTEG approach. He has a fairly traditional orderly gardening approach, where I'm trying to develop more permanent systems that are fairly wild. So, the wood chips provide good moisture retention/weed suppression for me until my cover crops and other chop and drop stuff provide enough veg matter to start to build a layer of litter that will take the role of the wood chips as things stabilize.

I do like them a lot as "beauty bark" in some of my zone 0.5 plantings around the house. It's an easy way to clean up a messy bed, for sure.

Re: Back to Eden

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:56 pm
by 4seasons
Found my local power company's dump site and made a few calls so now I have access to a huge pile of chips. Here is the first load. Other than the labor involved in shoveling it in and out of the trailer and a little gas to go pick them up it was free mulch. I can't wait to get started. I even found a round of firewood laying there with the chips so kinda like a free bonus.

Re: Back to Eden

PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:43 pm
by matt walker
Nice score 4. I got started when the local PUD was clearing the lines across my pasture and I asked if they wanted a place to dump the chip truck. They jumped on the opportunity to not drive back to the dump, and I ended up with a great start to my mulch pile. Nice score there!