I’ve always been a fan of the idea of having a garden, being able to pick fresh veggies and fruit right out of my backyard and getting to play in the dirt. I’m less a fan of the idea of the time and labor investment however, I just don’t have the patience and dedication for something that consuming and demanding.
Then I got pregnant and my midwife happened to be the wife of Paul Gautschi who developed the Back to Eden gardening technique and created the documentary Back to Eden film. I visited their home for my appointments and saw the garden and orchard and got to take fresh food home with me once summer came. I got to hear in passing how the garden basically gardens itself, how little it needs weeding, never needs watering, how it doesn’t need tilling and the ground never grows fallow. The secret? A covering.
The story goes Paul, a lifelong farmer, one day looked around him and asked God if there was a better way. God showed him the thriving evergreens and lush forest growing behind his house even with little rainfall. Paul studied the ground in the forest and realized that the forest was able to feed and thrive from the soil because the soil was kept covered and fed from the fallen leaves and needles and brush of the forest. This covering of the soil was the key. It’s the skin that keeps the soil as a living organism healthy. Remove the skin and the soil is exposed and vulnerable to the elements, goes unfed, dries up and hardens, and if planted in becomes fallow… essentially it dies.
What Paul does for his garden is he covers the soil with wood chips. You can cover your garden with leaves, with hay, with any organic material that will breakdown and eventually turn into soil itself. This covering does many things, including soaking up rain like a sponge and regulating the soil’s water supply, keeping the soil dark and damp, and shielding it from the sun and wind. This keeps it from packing or drying up, keeping the soil loose so that plants have all the room they need and aren’t stunted or choked by hard soil.
The stunning thing to me is, God’s design of nature actually makes gardening easy. It makes it easy to grow food just about anywhere without constant watering, constant weeding, constant tending and babying seedlings, having to till and prep the soil, having to make sure you’re not draining the soil of the minerals and chemicals it needs to thrive and grow healthy plants. God’s design of nature does all that for you. It’s when we step in and interrupt this natural process that we create so much extra work for ourselves.
So you’re telling me that I can grow a veggie garden in my back yard with minimal prepping and watering and weeding, simply putting down a covering of wood chips and planting my seeds and watch nature do her thing? Yes please.
You can watch the documentary film, see Paul’s garden, and hear his story first hand here: backtoedenfilm.com