Planting With Wood Chips

For years friends have been suggesting to us, “Here, you really should watch this video about gardening.  You’ll like it.  The guy is just south of us.”  And to be honest, we had really good intentions to watch it!  But we just never got around to it until about two years ago.  The movie?  Back To Eden

What we saw was fascinating and encouraging.  I had always mulched our garden with various things and have seen tremendous benefit to doing so.  We began our current garden 12 years ago when it was heavy clay over a deep bed of blue clay.  Not the ideal gardening soil, that’s for sure!  But we’ve been amending it with organic matter and compost on a regular basis.  But we always tilled our garden every spring and usually in the fall after harvest.  I’ve covered with plastic in the off season to kill weeds, gardened with a plastic sheet over the soil and cuts made for the plants, and a variety of other things that never quite sat right with me.  But this – this wood chip mulch and the presentation given in the Back to Eden film – this was exciting.

So now that we’ve had some very pleasing success with the BTE method, I thought I’d share some photos of how to plant in the BTE garden.

Here you can see the wood chips on the surface between two kale plants and the trench I dug below.  In this trench I will be planting.  It is critical that the seed or plant have contact with the soil.  CRITICAL.  So dig down below the mulch until you’ve got soil to insert your plant or your seeds.  Here you see that we’ve got a deep layer of manure and bedding from the sheep barn, but because we put this down months ago it has begun to break down and you can’t really make out what it is.  On top of that we put a fresh layer of aged wood chips.  You can see the soil we have and that it still bears a resemblance to the clay soil that we started with but believe me when I say it is nothing at all like it once was.

In this second photo you can see that I’ve added something to the trench:  egg shells and a mychorrhizal innoculant.  We save our egg shells and I crush them up and use them when I plant and as a top dress in the garden.  It adds nutrients to the soil.  The fungi innoculant is a fantastic thing that you should learn about here.  I placed my plant on top of these.

After the plant is placed and covered with soil I covered the soil with shavings & manure from the hen house.  This will nourish the soil with the plant beneath it.

Next you see that I’ve begun to pull the wood chips back over the top of the soil.  I’ll leave it partially covered until the plant begins to grow through the mulch and then replace the remainder of what I’ve pulled away.



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