Our ‘Back to Eden’ Spring Garden

Eden

In February I wrote on how we were transforming our garden using the principles from the film ‘Back to Eden’.

Now more than 6 months later, after having started the transition at the height of summer and now a few weeks into Spring, we are continuing to reap the benefits from this method of gardening.

We found that during the summer, we decreased our watering by about half (as the wood chips hadn’t broken down adequately) and haven’t watered at all since.  We’re hoping that this summer we won’t have to water at all, or at least very little.

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Sowing Seed and Raising Seedlings

We now mostly sow seeds straight into the ground, simply by raking back the wood chips, putting some compost in, and the leaving the cover back until the seedlings sprout.

We also have some seeds under cover in seed raising trays.  Our seed raising mix consists of homemade compost, vermaculture (from a worm farm), and some sand to lighten the mix.  This seems to be working well so far.  After three weeks we have seedlings that are already 2-3 inches tall (tomatoes, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, zucchini, pumpkins, and capsicums).

Eden

Our mini green house is made from a piece of glass inside a wood frame and angled towards the sun.  Underneath the glass (about 2cm in) is clear plastic fixed to the inside of the frame which creates a good condensation and diffuses the bright sunlight.

On the ground is concrete so we always had problems with having to put seed trays on a waterproof tray – the dirt would be wet then dry out.  So now we have some old carpet over the concrete and 3 inches of mulch on top of the carpet.  Our seed trays sit on top of the mulch.  This creates a forest floor in our greenhouse and keeps it moist.  We water a little every 2-3 days with a watering can.

Planting

One of the things we’ve enjoyed was when our plants have self-seeded and new plants have sprung up on their own in various places around the garden.  We wondered if this might stop once the garden was covered in wood chips.  But gladly this has continued and they can either grow where they’ve landed or we can move them to a better place.

We recently planted some broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds straight into the garden with a month of winter left, but they still came up and are doing well.

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Weeding

As we’d hoped, we haven’t had to pull many weeds at all, and the few that do crop up are easy to pull.

The great thing is that now that it’s time to plant our spring garden, there’s no weeds to pull or soil to till (which would normally have taken about 8 hours) so the motivation to get out in the garden isn’t spoiled.  We have some seedlings on the go and these will be ready to plant at the traditional summer planting time in October.

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Composting

We have two composting bins that we alternate and keep them covered with a black rubber mat.   We introduced a bucket of vermaculture from a worm farm, which had a good amount of worms in and have flourished in the compost.  The compost is rich and the system is working well.

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Some Things to Plan

Finally, here are some things we have yet to plan.

  • Utilising the space well so as to plant all our seedlings in limited space;
  • Keeping the wood chips on the garden replenished;
  • Finding a local source for more wood chips and a place in the garden to store them;
  • Introducing more herbs into the garden;
  • Being more intentional about companion planting (eg. flowers);
  • Getting a beehive.

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