Galen Gallimore

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since Feb 04, 2012
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Recent posts by Galen Gallimore

James Colbert wrote:After trying wood chips in my garden this year I have decided that wood chips are good, wood chips and mixed mulch (like Ruth Stout) is better. If your in a city and they are free and plentiful use them but otherwise they are not much better than any good organic mulch thickly applied. Also ants love wood chip mulches. They don't hurt the plants they are just annoying when working with the soil.



What sort of chips did you use?

I think the ideal chips are what comes directly from the branch chipper - needles, leaves, branches, bark, all of it. The 'chips' from the lawn & garden centers have been sorted into 'playground chips' (at least that's what they call them around here) which have no bark, needles, leaves, etc. and 'beauty bark', which is just bark. And they seem to be most effective when they've begun to decompose.

Galen

Andy Sprinkle wrote:Great video...I love the whole piece about orginal sin and man tilling the earth. Tilling the earth as a syptom of our brokeness.

Question: How would I get perenials established from seed/small transplant in a 4-5 inch mulch covering, pull back the mulch and plant in soil and then slowly put the mulch back as the plants grow? And how about bulbs...will the plants shoot up through 4-5 inches of mulch? Can I mulch over my hostas this winter and will they push up through the mulch?



When my wife and I visited last October, Paul gave me this advice regarding my strawberry patch. I had turned my sod two years ago in the Fall, and over the winter let it break down. Then I transplanted strawberries out of a garden bed and barrel I had brought with us on our move and 'covered' them with straw. They went great guns for a year and sent out runners. Last summer we had a tremendous crop. But then the problem of thinning/weeding/etc. So I asked his advice. He suggested I knock them down (weed trimmer, etc.) then cover them with 4" or so of chips. The strong crowns will push through while the older, weaker crowns will not.

I have knocked them down and will be putting a heavy layer of chips on as soon as I can, probably monday. We'll see how it goes. I imagine it'd be the same with bulbs.

Galen

Tyler Ludens wrote: Does the Back to Eden gardening method have any provision for providing the wood chips of the future - is the planting of trees part of the plan? Planting trees is part of forest gardening, so if it is not part of the Back to Eden plan, we can hope if it is adopted widely that there are plenty of forest gardeners also, planting the necessary trees!



I don't think planting trees is part of the 'plan', per se, but Paul does take his trimmings/prunings from the orchard to have them chipped, then returns with chips for the garden. His old truck, by the way, is a story unto itself in the idea of rebuilding/reusing. See this brief article:

http://www.sequimgazette.com/news/article.exm/2009-09-23_truck_marks_a_million_miles

It seems like part of the hugelkulture plan is to deliberately manage the forest around you...or like Jean Pain's forest management approach, although that uses chips as well. So perhaps the wood chip method is best used in wooded areas where a steady supply of chips is available.

I wondered if all the massive tumbleweeds that have shown up in Texas recently could be used as mulch, or covering to build soil during the drought...although I'm not sure if even mulch can mitigate the severe warming/climate variability taking place in the Southwest.

http://climatecrocks.com/2011/11/19/texas-tumbleweed-terror/

I made a permaculture-flavored comment on this video but it was summarily ignored since folks were too busy arguing about climate change denial to consider any productive solutions.

Galen


I thought it was interesting that in spite of how much "better" the quality of his soil looked after years of mulching, it still didn't look as good as the shot of the forest loam



Actually, that may be an artifact of the camera work. Having been there and seen, touched, walked-on and smelled his soil, it really is fantastic stuff.

Nature doesn't need wood chippers, right? Natural wood chips are the leaves, branches and trunks. No reason not to use them as is for the orchard. Humans just like to speed things up...or interfere because "we know better".



Are you suggesting/implying we should all be "forest gardening" or foraging, or wandering herdsmen, like our pre-agriculture ancestors? I view permaculture, including Paul's mulching method (novel or not) as a step forward away from chemically dependant 'modern' agriculture and at the same time back to a means of working with the earth to produce food that more closely resembles what nature already does.

Personally I'm not ready to step back THAT far into full forest gardening as some are doing. But that may be the eventual destination we (society) reaches when most of us figure out what we're doing isn't working and there is a better option like Paul's methods (or Ruth Stouts, Fukuoka's, Geoff Lawton's, etc.) I think more people would be willing to take that initial step away from fertilizer and herbicide and pesticide but how far away will they step? Forest Gardening, I think, is a few steps removed from where folks start out. I thought going organic was the way to go until I found out about the covering methods. That's one thing I really like about Paul G., is that he doesn't condemn anyone for where they're at, he only offers a simple, beautiful alternative.

Galen
@ Julie - I don't see hugelkulture going as is without any fossil fuel inputs unless you dig the trench, saw/gather and haul the logs all by hand. Most of what I've read on hugelkulture now, including on this site, seems to show use of either a digger or a hauler or both powered by petroleum when creating the trench, filling the trench, etc. And keyline permaculture is the same. Unless you're really willing and able to dig swales and make berms by hand, it's going to take some fossil fuel. I suppose these methods are similar in that respect.

I like what Paul G. says in the film - we really work hard to fail, when if we would look at how the creator designed the creation to work and copy that, we'd be so much better off. There's an element of that in many permaculture systems.

Galen

Jesus Martinez wrote:I guess when you think about it, he is in a way doing hugelkulture, as his main amendment is wood.



Maybe so, but my understanding of hugelkulture is limited to what little I've read and seen here so I can't claim to be an expert on it. The main difference I'd see is in Paul's method the chips are on the surface and the point of interaction between chips and soil is when rain washes the nutrients from the covering down into the soil below, or earthworms, fungi, bacteria, etc. bridge the gap and travel between soil and chips. The woodchips are slowly breaking down thanks to that soil life and what the soil life makes available from the chips is carried gently into the soil below for plant use.

The chips are also protecting the soil from erosion and compaction wherease in hugelkulture what is there to protect the soil on top of the wood? In either case there is no tilling and very little, if any, watering. I love what Paul has to say about the water holding capacity of the chips - when there is too much rain they displace it, and when there's not enough they retain it. Very cool.

Galen

Jesus Martinez wrote:The sweetness of his food comes from proper mineralization of his soil. I grew spinach in soil amended with compost and rock dust last year and it too was sweet.



Yes, this is what I was trying to get at (late last night, half awake). It's the minerals, made more available through healthier, more vigorous plants grown without stress from lack of water, competition from weeds, etc. He has not heavily amended his soil, only added the woodchips and the occasional load of compost/manure from the chicken yard. Once the covering is down, the transformation begins thanks to the soil life.

@ Neal - 'brainwash'...what a funny word, if you think about it. We who are Christians may talk about having our hearts washed clean, being forgiven, etc. as a cleansing, so why not our minds too? Being 'brainwashed' has become a negative when in reality having a clean slate without presumption is an ideal place to begin learning something new.

I say this because Paul's garden certainly challenges conventional wisdom and 'traditional' practice on so many levels. He is aware of Ruth Stout, Fukuoka, etc. and knows of their methods, but this is the one that works for him. I wonder if he knows about hugelkulture, and if so, what he thinks about it?

Galen
I'm new to posting on this forum (been lurking for a while) and my first post was recommending this film in another thread. I thought this thread was a more appropriate place for a fleshed-out mention of the Back-to-Eden approach.

As someone who has been to Paul Gautschi's garden, tasted his produce and received his generosity, I can say this is the real deal. I agree with the above poster who quoted Toby Hemenway regarding different approaches to permaculture, as there are some aspects of Paul's gardening that look more like 'conventional' gardening. But he does say openly, and I believe it is mentioned in the film, that this isn't a farm or self-sufficient homestead, but a garden and orchard he planted to both feed his family good, nutritious food and to share with others.

Upon our visit (my wife and I) we were shown his 'altar' - his pile of rocks cleared from the land before he learned the covering method, then taken into the garden. Right away he picked a spinach leaf for each of us and told us to start at the stem. Just dripping with water and full of flavor - the stem! By the time I got to the end of the leaf it was sweet! Literally, sweet tasting. The best spinach I'd ever tasted. In fact, I'd have to say everything I tried that day far surpassed anything I'd ever eaten or grown. We loaded the trunk of our car with beets, broccoli, carrots and kale. BIG beets! Paul was most generous with all that he had to share.

Paul might say the reason is the nutrients. Because the plants grow with so little stress, they are able to grow quickly and are tender and sweet. The moisture they receive is a crucial part of the equation in that it carries the flavor (solubulized minerals) to your body in a better way so that not only are you reaping the benefit of the nutrition, but it tastes better too.

I showed this film at my church and we're putting in a garden using this method, as a place to grow food to share and to teach a more earth-friendly approach to gardening. Just this morning I layed down 4-6 inches of chipped wood on a brand new 'landscaping' bed in the front yard. We live in an HOA controlled neighborhood so appearance is a consideration we want to honor as part of our covenant with our neighbors. But edibles look really nice and will taste good too!

Anyway, I'm still digesting all that I learned from that visit to Paul's garden, and I continue, as a Christian, to 'ask my mentor' all kinds of questions about gardening just as Paul does. I won't proselytize or preach here on the forum, don't worry, but I can certainly promote this gardening method to anyone serious about better quality vegetables grown with no pesticides, no herbicides, very little inputs (mulch and occasionally manure) and almost no watering. It really works and it works very well.

Galen
Paul Gautschi lives in Sequim, WA. You might be tempted to think of Western Washington as very wet, but Sequim is actually in the rainshadow of the Olympic peninsula and receives about 15" of rainfall a year with a VERY dry summer (the Hoh Rain Forest, right next door, receives 15 FEET of rain per year by comparison). His soil was clay and rock and the mulch begins the work of transforming it into rich garden soil very quickly.

Galen
8 years ago
Have you seen 'Back to Eden' yet? Paul, the gardener in the film, does not water (99% of the time) but relies exclusively on mulch to retain moisture. I've seen this garden in person and tasted the wonderful produce...it really works. When he does have to water is if the ground beneath the mulch is very dry at planting time and then he waters only long enough to get the seeds up. Once they are sprouted he does not water.

www.backtoedenfilm.com

The film is free to watch online.

Galen
8 years ago