What Exactly Is the Back to Eden Gardening Method?
Back to Eden gardening is a method that is meant to change the game. Coming out as a film you can pull up on YouTube, we are walked through exactly how this works over the course of a little under two hours. Of course, if you search “Back to Eden Gardening Method,” you will have endless content to sift through, most testimonials for or against this method. Back to Eden is meant to revert the way we garden back to how the earth naturally grows. There is the promise of the simple life: no weeding, no watering, no tilling, and incredibly delicious yield. Many gardeners swear by it to be the end all, be all of your gardening woes.
No matter the climate, this method is said to work magic on your garden. The primary way to use this method is by recreating the environment that plants were initially made to thrive in. This idea comes from observing nature. There is no human tending to these plants, yet they grow. No one to water them, but they are hydrated. No one to weed them, yet they flourish. No one to till the ground, yet the soil is healthy. It is indeed a miraculous event only God could orchestrate, and that is precisely the point of this method. What if we let God care for our gardens as he does the rest of nature?
As you can imagine, this method comes with an endless amount of questions. If this simple way of gardening was possible all along, why in the world have we followed the hard way of gardening up until this point? Why is this method just now emerging and where has it been all this time? Is this just the easy way out of doing the work? Later on, I will give you the rundown on how it worked for me as well as a testimonial from another gardener. But there are endless gardeners online who will tell you in detail exactly what they did to tweak the method, which organic veggies they grew, and how it worked for them. Doing your research with the click of a button will give you all the information you’ll ever need.
How Does the Back to Eden Gardening Method Work?
This method works best as a process that is split up into steps. Remember, everything is done as organically as possible. You will see a common theme here, where if there is a more natural route, the Back to Eden gardening method takes that one.
- First things first, you will want to figure out exactly where you will be placing this garden bed. If you already have a garden bed setup, that’s great. If you do not, you can use a patch of grass that is free of things like rocks, dirt, grass. Remember, you can clear an area that already has these things.
- For the second step, you will need some newspapers to put down on the ground. You need to be certain that there are no holes or gaps because you don’t want anything getting through. Cover it up with about three newspapers. If you are trying to figure out where to get newspapers from, there are tons of ways to get them. You can begin by contacting the newspaper company that is local to you, you can contact the recycling center near you, you can get local free newspapers, and if it comes down to it, ask friends and neighbors for their old newspaper copies.
- Next up, you will need to purchase compost and cover up the makeshift bed area with a few inches of the stuff. If you want your yield to be high quality and fresh, make sure your compost only has ingredients that fit these criteria in it.
- Cover the area you laid compost on with about 6 inches of… wood chips! Wood chips are the key when it comes to this method. Picking out the correct wood chips is vital. You will need to find the most organic wood chips possible. That means it needs to be tree bark, along with the branches and leaves that are chipped into pieces using the machinery. Funnily enough, you can find these at the city dump most times.
- This step is when Back to Eden begins to get fun. You get to start planting! Begin this part by scraping back the top few inches of wood chips. The timing of this is a personal preference. If you want to prepare the beds a season earlier in order to have fertile soil prepared to be planted in, this is a great way to go. But it is also up to you if you would rather do it the same day you complete the previous steps. Neither is life changing for this method.
Here are a few pointers on this method:
- Complete the beds promptly. A few days time is best. So much can happen to your newspaper and compost in the period of time you leave it, so do whatever you need to do, even if that is a small space, to get the job done in a timely fashion.
- It does not have to be perfect. Don’t obsess over measuring the inches. If it’s a bit off, that is not the end of the world.
- Keep a watchful eye on the weather channel and be on the lookout for rain. If you can prepare this bed before heavy rain, that is the best case scenario for growth!
What Are the Benefits of the Back to Eden Gardening Method?
The main benefit of this method is growing entirely organic produce. Many people wish to grow organically for a variety of different reasons. These consist of wanting to raise the price of their products with the label “organic,” wanting to treat the earth well, or wanting to stay away from pesticides for their own health. Whatever the reason for wanting to grow organic, there is no doubt this method is used by people who desire it.
The second benefit is an obvious one. Back to Eden means a hands-off approach to gardening, and that equates to less work for you! Ultimately, that gives you more time spent elsewhere while letting nature take its course, yet still receiving the reward in the end.
My Testimonial of Back to Eden Gardening
During last year’s growing season, there was much hype and circulation over a new method of garden mulching now commonly known as Back to Eden gardening. I shared in the excitement and like many other gardeners got my hands on as many wood chips as I could find and eagerly spread them over my garden.
This year, coincidentally, was our year of rest for the garden which turned out to be a blessing since the time and financial investment would have been futile as we ended up moving across the state. The wood chips I laid in my garden never had a chance to prove themselves or not and since I have done some rethinking on mulch gardening, will never have the opportunity to.
Ultimately, the origin of the Back to Eden gardening method was an appeal to God’s word and created order- where every Christian agrarian should begin to serve the Lord through their gardening efforts- and the technique was born after observing the abundance of life in forest soils and their ability to retain water. However, the logic is somewhat flawed in that we are attempting to grow sun-loving annuals in our vegetable patches which one simply doesn’t find growing in a forest understory. That to me was reason enough to abandon the project, despite other’s success stories, and seek a mulching method that is more like one would find occurring naturally. While some might say the video simply advocates lasagna gardening and mulching of any type, that was not made clear, and the magic seemed to be in the wood chips. If the video left out such vital information that can only be found on YouTube, then it was a poorly made video at best, outright deceptive at worst.
Well, as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and for many others who jumped on the bandwagon with me, they have had almost a full first season’s worth of experience by now.
Another Back to Eden Testimonial
One gardener recently reached out and shared their experience, and with her permission, I can share it with you and others curious about whether Back to Eden gardening would work for them.
“I’m fairly new here, and I know you are in the middle of your big move, but I had to write about our Back to Eden gardening experiment.
Last year we put half our garden into raised beds that were double dug per the book Mini Farming, Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre. After 4 of the 12 beds, it occurred to me that I was turning my lovely topsoil under & bringing up pure clay to plant in! We forked the others. Our garden was amazing, in spite of the drought, incredible yields even with the clay issues.
Then I watched the BTE movie…. We brought in 6 pickups full of 2 yr old, composted chips. Backbreaking work! We planted all the boxes and waited in anticipation. The other half of our garden didn’t get chips-I ran out of time and had to plant. Most everything sprouted, but by late May I knew we were in trouble. Everything I planted-seeds or transplants- was very pale green and stunted. The peppers were actually almost white! We brought a truckload of 8 year old manure in & spread it over the chips, working it in. Things greened up but remained stunted. Our yield this year will be a fraction of last year. The weeds have been mostly non-existent, but other than that it is a total failure in my book.
I searched the net for other people’s experiences. Most of what I found were folks planning to use the method because of the results in the movie. There were a few people with wonderful results though. I read the Teaming With Microbes after reading your post and now realize I have likely killed, or nearly so, my soil food web. We will be raking the remaining chips off after our pitiful harvest.
We live in SE Indiana if that makes a difference. The oddest part of this is that our family and 2 friends all used the BTE method. One family have always used tilling and chemical fertilizer. I thought their outcome would be the best, but it is actually worse than ours! The other family planted a new garden on a patch of ground that had tobacco growing on it for the last 30 yrs- her yield has been off the charts wonderful! She used the chips differently though-she tilled the soil, planted the seed and then mulched with the chips when her plants began to emerge. I don’t know what made the difference for her-the tobacco, tilling first, or just what but she feels her BTE was a complete success. We all live within a half hour of each other.” -Kim (all emphasis mine)
Give Your Testimony of This Method
There are several other gardeners out there who also have experimented with the Back to Eden method of garden mulching. We’d love to hear from you! Whether a wonderful success or abysmal failure, please leave a comment below and share your thoughts so that others might glean from your experience.