Thursday, July 26, 2012

Great Garden Soil

          It has been about a month since my last garden soil update, so I thought that I would show how the "Back to Eden" method has been working for us.  You can read about what we did here.  A month ago our garden looked like this,

It looks bare, but don't let the lack of weeds fool you.
Here it is today,
Still no weeds!  I added decomposing pine needles mixed with wood chips and it is working beautifully to hold in moisture.  Even during this drought, I only water a couple times a week.  I have yet to have a problem with any kinds of pests, probably because there are no weeds close to the plants.  I realize that I have a lot of unused space.  I just planted carrots, so it's not as empty as it looks.  Next year I will need to lay everything out better.

Here are my strawberry beds a month ago.
My strawberry beds today.
The rocks aren't the best at keeping the grass from creeping in, so about once a week I have to pull some grass but other than that they are weed free too.  They are quickly outgrowing their bed.  This fall I have plans to expand the strawberry beds and prepare a new area for June Bearing plants.
My tomatoes about a month ago. 

Here they are now.  Pesticide and chemical free.  The only fertilizer I used was a little blood meal, Epsom salt, and the compost they were planted in.  You can see my beans in the back ground.  They were planted as seeds almost a month ago and are just now really starting to explode.

Here's a close up of some of the tomatoes on the vine.

I am just so pleased with how everything is growing and the fact that it truly has been a weed free garden.  We started out with hard, rocky, clay soil that had never had anything but weeds growing on it, and now we have a beautiful garden.

Here are some tips that I have found useful for us:

~  DO NOT TILL!!  I know this goes against everything you have ever learned gardening wise, but don't do it!  Instead of tilling, lay down newspaper, then layer soil and compost on top of that.  Please, please, please trust me on this.  We had to bring in several pick-up loads of dirt and compost but it was so worth it.
~  Mulch is a must!  Once we started mulching, we watered less and noticed the plants growing faster and healthier.  Plus, the mulch prevents any weeds that might make their way through the paper.
~  We created a garden boundary with railroad ties.  This prevents grass from creeping into the garden.
~  All those wasps in the garden are good.  We have tons of wasps in the garden and have yet to see a single caterpillar.  Plus, they aren't aggressive at all.  I think that we have an understanding, I will water my garden and leave you alone if you will kill unwanted pests and leave me alone.
~  I mix a tablespoon of Epsom salt with 2 gallons of water and feed to my plants every couple weeks.  I don't know how much this actually helps, but it's not hurting so why stop.
~  Do not till!!  Again, this is so important.  I have read several blogs where people tried Paul Gautschi’s "Back to Eden" method but they tilled the ground and still had weeds.  I did not till, and I truly have a work free garden.  All I do is occasionally add some compost or mulch, turn the sprinkler on for 5 minutes, and that's it.

UpdateIn response to the question "What kind of soil did you use?".  We bought a couple loads of cheap dirt from a local farm store.  I think it was leftover from some construction.  The compost was just well aged animal manure.  I recommend a home soil test so you know if you need to add anything else to the soil.  Our soil tested good, but I added a bit of blood meal to my plants when I planted them... just in case.

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  1. What kind of dirt and soil did you have brought in? We plan a garden next year, but I haven't any idea of how to keep the weeds down, much less how big I want it!

  2. Hi Christina! Love that you tried the wood chip "back to eden " gardening idea... I loved that video... it just makes sense! Good job!


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