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Back To Eden Gardening Questions  RSS feed

 
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Hi! I am super new to gardening and stumbled across the Back to Eden Method and really want to implement it into a new garden. I'm very late in the game but will start making beds in March and planting. I'm a little confused with the method and I have a TON of questions, haha.

1. Do I buy organic topsoil from the store and add my own organic compost? If so, what organic topsoil is the best to use.
2. Do I mix the organic compost in with the topsoil?
3. If I don't have chickens or animals, and use store bought non-organic vegetable peels and egg shells as compost, will that disrupt the organic quality of the organic seed, and eventually the plant, and make it not organic anymore? Should I only give my soil organic peels and egg shells?
4. Am I able to dig up a part of my yard and use that as topsoil? If so, can I lay a couple of layers of newspaper down, cover it with the topsoil I just dug up from my yard, add my own compost, add wood chips, and immediately start planting my seeds in March? Or is that too soon for the decomposition of the wood chips to even consider starting to plant my seeds?
5. Do I have to wait until it decomposes a bit to start planting?
 
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Location: 4b
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1)  No need to buy anything, just layer your own compost on top
2)  No, just lay it on
3)  I can't really help with this, I don't know enough about being certified organic
3 again :)  )  Absolutely.  There is never a "too soon".  Your plan will work great.
4)  No.  Say you put down a layer of wood chips over the existing soil.  If you want to plant immediately, just open up a row or holes in the wood chips and plant in the soil.  Once the plants are growing, you can push the wood chips back in around them.  Don't plant in the wood chips themselves, plant in the soil beneath.  As the wood chips break down underneath, you can plant directly into that material.
 
Posts: 1989
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Hi Abby,

Welcome to the forums.

The basic principle of the Back to Eden approach is add huge amounts of mulch (usually wood chips). The wood chips break down over an extended period of time, feeding the soil life beneath, adding nutrients and improving the water holding capacity of your soil.  This is a long term process, not a quick fix for planting in a single year. When you talk about buying topsoil, and compost, it makes me think you are after much quicker results than this. If that is the case you might be better off looking at raised bed gardening or similar.

A few caveats.

The Back to Eden approach has more to it than simply adding lots of wood chips. For a start the guy who came up with it make heavy use of his chickens to process the mulch. A lot of woodchips spend a few months in their pen first soaking up nutrients and being broken down by their scratching and pecking before being transferred to the garden.

My experience using woodchips as they come from the tree surgeons is they work fantastically for paths to keep mud down, and around perennial beds. Unfortunately I found them a pain in annual planting areas. Any soil disturbance turns them under, which can lead to nitrogen robbing from the soil beneath. The chips also interfered with regular hoeing, as they are a bit too large and chunky. In my climate that made it harder to stay on top of the prolific weeds (damp warm UK).  They also make for perfect conditions for slugs, depending on climate.

We still make heavy use of woodchips in some areas, and are always keen to get truck loads dropped off, but it is not the perfect solution the video makes out - just another useful tool in the right circumstances.
 
Abby Davis
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Oops! Looks like I can't count, I'll fix that, haha. Thank you so much for your help!!
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1989
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Re your specific question about "organic".

Don't over think this. Organic is mostly a marketing term, used by farmers to charge premium prices for products. For the most parts plants don't know or care if they are certified organic, and it is largely irrelevant in the context of the scale of a garden. Just do what makes sense to you, and learn from the experiences. You will make mistakes, and you garden will teach you a lot if you let it.
 
Abby Davis
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Michael Cox wrote:
The basic principle of the Back to Eden approach is add huge amounts of mulch (usually wood chips). The wood chips break down over an extended period of time, feeding the soil life beneath, adding nutrients and improving the water holding capacity of your soil.  This is a long term process, not a quick fix for planting in a single year. When you talk about buying topsoil, and compost, it makes me think you are after much quicker results than this. If that is the case you might be better off looking at raised bed gardening or similar.



Hi! Thanks for your response! I'm fine with it taking a while to work, I was just confused on how to start the method properly and make sure the soil is healthy enough for my seed to be successful.  
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Abby, if you are going to use wood chips for a garden you want to get them breaking down asap, so the best way to do this is to add mushroom slurries (check my soil threads via the link at the top of the soil forum).
Don't wait till spring to start, now is a good time to get things chugging along so you have better soil when planting time arrives.
I will suggest you also add spent coffee grounds to your mulch layers since this is a great source of Nitrogen and the weak acids from the grounds also help start the lignin breaking down in the wood chips, thus stopping Nitrogen leaching (which is not as big a thing as most folks think it is).

Good luck and ask your questions, as a person just getting started I'm sure there will be plenty of those.

Redhawk
 
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