Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Garden with No Water

What would you think if I told you that you can grow a garden full of food without watering it? 

You'd probably think 'no way, that is crazy because you have to have water to grow a garden'. And you'd be half way right.

About 3 years ago I watched a documentary film called Back to Eden. What amazed me as I watched this movie were two things. One, he doesn't water his garden! Two, his vegetables are huge!!

As a novice gardener I'm not going to pretend to know it all, because I definitely don't, but I do know this... I grew an entire garden of food last year, and I didn't water it!

An important clarification there here is that with the Garden of Eden method I did have to water the plants until they were seedlings. Once the plants had started to grow I completely stopped water them.

This was not an easy thing to do because we inherently know that we have to water a garden to make the plants grow, and boy was I itching to water it!

The year before I mostly went without watering, but I gave into the itch to water and watered it a couple of times. Last year I decided to give the method a real chance and went cold turkey on the watering (beyond seedling phase that is), and had great results!

The Garden of Eden method is simple. The man took what he saw revealed to him in nature for it's growth, and applied it to his fruits and vegetables.

To use this method do not toil the ground! That's right, no digging up all the dirt. Save yourself the work and effort. Digging up the earth may be a simple method to get the seeds into the ground, but it releases nitrogen that the plants need to thrive.

Another huge bonus to this method is that you rarely have to pull weeds, because they're blocked from growing by the wood chips. A major cost in the growing of organic food is paying people to weed by hand, but with this method there are so few weeds it's easy.

The Back to Eden people are so awesome that they've made the streaming of the movie completely free on their website. Here's the link to watch it.

I recently watched the movie again and appreciated a refresher in how it all works. It's definitely worth watching the whole movie, but at 1 hour and 11 minutes you can see the method to use for your own garden.

The basics are this...

1.Cover the area you want to turn into a garden in newspaper about 4 sheets thick, if there is grass or weeds there. If there's just dirt you can skip this step.

2. Apply a 2-3 inch thick layer of compost all over the garden space.

Organic compost and manure mixture
3. Apply a dusting of manure or natural fertilizer over the compost.
    (I bought a two in one of compost and manure at Home Depot)

4. Apply 3-4 inches of untreated wood mulch in a thick layer over all of it.

On the left are my old wood chips from last year. This year I applied a
new layer of compost and manure 
(the dark dirt) to maintain
soil nutrients, 
and some new wood chips.

The finished product, ready
for planting.
Now your garden is prepped and you can start planting.

It's important to note that when you plant the seeds they must get down into the dirt layer. The seeds cannot be sustained in the wood chip layer because they won't get enough nitrogen to continue growing.

To plant the seeds push the wood chips aside in rows until the seedling have grown a bit. When the seedlings are big enough push the wood chips back around the plants to maintain moisture.

Planting requires the most effort, after that keeping the garden up gets really easy! There were several times I walked into my garden last year and wished there was more I could do to it because the up keep was so easy.

I started this method about 3-4 years ago and I'm loving it! The soil is really nice, nutrient rich, and moist even when it hasn't rained in days.

If you've already planted your garden for this year, this is a great way to prep your garden in Fall for your Fall root vegetables, or for next Spring's planting.

Happy gardening!

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