There are two things that I love about my Back to Eden garden, despite the fact that my garden is startlingly behind this year. The first is that I don’t have to water unless I’m germinating seeds. The rain does it all. I’ve pulled back the covering and checked the soil. It’s damp, but not soaked, a good 6″ down, even if we’ve gone through a dry spell. The second thing I love is the weeding… or lack thereof. My primary garden measures over 1,000 square feet. I can weed it in its entirely in under an hour, even if I haven’t done it for months.
The only weeds I contend with are tiny little maple trees, shallow on the wood chip surface. I believe I have only pulled grass once or twice, and even then it’s only a couple of blades in an area where the wood chips were thin.
Where You’ll Find Weeds in Your Back to Eden Garden
The locations where you will find weeds in your Back to Eden garden are where you’ve pulled back the chips to plant seedlings or small plants. As I’ve talked about before, you need to assure that your plants are being planted in the soil, not in the chips. The only exception I have found so far is with potatoes. When the soil is exposed while the plant is establishing itself, small blades of grass may creep in. To reduce the likeliness of this, only pull the chips back enough to avoid smothering the plant. It also helps to sprinkle a light layer of wood chips or other organic mulch around the plant until the wood chips can be put back into place.
Having these organic mulches around your young plant can help in a variety of ways. In addition to suppressing weeds, it helps hold in moisture which is vital to plants try to get their roots (pun intended). The mulch also protects the soil from driving rains. How many times have you gone to check your garden and found plants completely uprooted because of a hard rain? It’s upsetting since rain is supposed to be a gardener’s friend.
What about mushrooms and slime molds?
Do you have little mushrooms sprouting up in your Back to Eden garden? Congratulations! The mushrooms popping up are a sign that your wood chips are decomposing and your garden is getting where it should be. You don’t want to pull up the mushrooms. Embrace them as happy workers in your garden. Some people actually inoculate their wood chips with mushroom spores.
Slime mold is also a great addition to your garden. Much like the mushrooms, leave it be and it will work for you. Now, due to its appearance (it looks like cat vomit), people who would be happy to leave mushrooms alone may not feel the same way about slime mold. If it bothers you aesthetically, feel free to break it up and rake it into the chips with a hard garden rake. Maybe that’s why we always see Paul walking around with that hard rake of his. He doesn’t want the cameras to capture his slime mold.
If you are interested in inoculating your Back to Eden garden with mushroom spores, wine cap/king Stropharia mushrooms are a great choice and they are available through Amazon as well as many local garden centers (though they may have to special order the cultures).
July Update on Our Back to Eden Garden
If you saw our quick video update from last month, you saw that things were looking rather sad in our garden. Small and underdeveloped was the theme for June. At first, I was losing heart with this gardening method, but after talking with other Maine gardens, our cold wet weather was making for pitiful gardens throughout the state. The weather hasn’t improved much this month, but the few hot and sunny days we’ve received have improved plant growth. Tiny tomatoes are beginning to appear and beans are reaching their full glory.
For those who haven’t read up on our Back to Eden garden, we received our wood chips from a local tree guy, Eli of Hutch’s Property & Tree in Lovell, Maine. He provided us with a wide variety of tree species including black walnut, which despite containing juglone, it seems to be doing great. I think it helps that it is mixed with other varieties and well amended with compost, manure, and urine. Hopefully, this next month will warm up so we can see some real progress.