In my last post, I talked about a free online film we watched recently, which has inspired us to adopt its principles in our own garden. In a word, it’s all about covering. Read here if you missed it.
I thought I’d give you a glimpse into how we’re going so far. We’ve found that it’s very simple in principle, but to transform our existing garden, it has taken a bit of care and patience. This is mainly due to the fact that we can’t just dump thick layers onto our garden, as there are existing plants that don’t need 4 inches of compost and 2 inches of wood chips put on top of them. And then there’s some patience as we allow the moisture and compost to permeate down into the original garden bed.
Finding Wood Chips
One of the first things we did was note where in our country New Zealand we could find others doing the same thing. On the Back to Eden website, we located three places on the world map who have noted their involvement so far. One of them happened to be a couple of hours north of us.
My husband got in contact with him, and on his next work visit to his city (a few days later) he picked up half a wool-sack of free wood chips from our fellow ‘Back to Eden-er’s’ source. This was enough to get us started in our existing garden, before discovering a local one-off source a week later which gave us another wool-sack full.
Laying the cover
We have two average-sized compost bins already, containing our food scraps and garden waste, which gave us a good covering of fresh compost. So we put down a layer of this first, then we covered the compost with the chips. [Just to clarify, raw wood chips are not sawdust or bark etc, they are freshly chipped tree branches and leaves that haven’t started to break down].
At the height of our southern hemisphere summer, we were watering a fair amount each day, as the exposed soil gets so dry. Now we are only watering once or twice a week, and mainly just the younger seedlings that don’t have deep root systems yet.
There’s no formula for how many inches of compost to lay down, or how much watering you’ll still need to do for a time – you should be able to tell by pulling back the chips and checking the soil underneath.
Planting new seedlings
The other thing we are doing for now is to continue rearing our seeds in potting trays with organic seed raising mix, as well as trying to plant seeds directly into the soil. It’s a bit of an experiment to see where they will grow best – and interestingly, the seeds are coming up in the garden while very few of our most recent attempts in the potting trays have come up yet.
I love the fact that the soil in our garden is only going to get better and better as the months and years go on.
Our next step
I have a hunch, that plants that are native to our country probably contain nutrients that are needed in our soil. It’s just a hunch. But knowing what I’ve discovered in my years researching food, and that our soil in New Zealand is deficient in a number of nutrients that are critical to good health, I wonder if this need can be met through simply laying cover down and allowing creation to work its wonder. Something to ‘dig’ into further!
The other thing we’ll be doing, other than finding a local source for wood chips, will be to continue to add compost on top and rake it through. But to clarify, no tilling the wood chips through the soil.
Something that we won’t be doing much of is… weeding. Or watering. It sure feels good to know that Shawn won’t be stuck in the garden as much as he often has been. I’d like to have some more time with him. More family time sounds fantastic.
So here’s the plan going forward: listen, touch, feel, look, taste – and respond to what our garden is saying to do to tend it.
Lots of love and appreciation to my husband, who has done all the hard work with getting us started. Thanks hun. xx