Back to Eden is a documentary about Paul Gautschi's simple but revolutionary gardening techniques. I sat down with my husband with low expectations, unaware I would hear such interesting and easy ideas.
Who is this guy?
Paul is a Christian who seeks God in everything including his family orchard and garden. Throughout the movie he quotes Bible verses and relates them to nature and how he grows his garden.
Upon moving to the Washington Peninsula in 1979, Paul quickly realized he would have trouble watering his family garden because the area only receives around 16 inches of water a year. However, he found abundant life and growth in the forests bordering his property, so Paul turned to God to discover how that was possible. He studied the forest floor and saw a mulch covering that retained water and grew beautiful trees and plants.
Gardening without fertilizing
This caused Paul to question the traditional gardening methods of tilling the land and adding in fertilizer. Conventional farming requires annual tilling and adding chemical fertilizers so every year more and more fertilizer is needed and eventually the soil gets sterile. These bagged fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium but do not contain minerals, leaving food grown today less nutritious - or delicious - as in the past.
Paul changed his gardening techniques, no longer using fertilizers or tilling, but raking in compost and putting down wood chips, then planting seeds directly into the wood chips. The soil never gets compacted and the wood chips retain water like a sponge so the soil is always damp.
I was struck by how crop rotation is unnecessary with this gardening method. Paul stated that it doesn't happen in nature and it's not needed with healthy, thriving soil. He also doesn't have a problem with pests. Bugs will attack weak plants, but they leave Paul's healthy ones alone.
I was also impressed that watering is not needed when using a wood chip covering. Paul said he waters when planting seeds and not at all after that. He cites the ancient world of Genesis before the flood when plants weren't watered by rain, but rather from water vapor from the ground. Ground water is a much more efficient watering method since spraying water through the air with irrigation is only 50% efficient. Mulching with wood chips means that the soil’s nutrients stay put when it rains, with little nutrient loss.
In my view, one of the best benefits with this system is that weed removal is easy. The plants grow their roots down through the loose wood chips into the soil and since the soil is never compacted it's easy to pull out the roots.
You can do it, too!
As Back to Eden concludes, we’re shown some family gardeners trying out this method. You get to see how it works out when you try it from scratch. I was inspired to try this out in a section of my own garden! I like how Paul states he's not interested in making money, he just wants to get his information out there to help people grow their own sustainable gardens to feed their families healthy, delicious food.
It's free and easy to watch the movie online or you can buy a dvd off of the website. I highly recommend watching Back to Eden to anyone who is interested where their food comes from, likes gardening or wants to start their own Back to Eden garden.
This post is part of: Wicked Good Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Small Footprint Friday