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Starting a Back to Eden garden from scratch

In this post I share my previous experience as a gardener and our process for starting our own Back to Eden garden at the farm.

Starting a Back to Eden deep mulch garden from scratch

My gardening experience

I have been gardening since I was a kid. My siblings and I each had our own vegetable garden plot as well as a flower garden. Every spring we got our hands in the dirt and planted. Here’s a throw back to my younger gardening days.

Gardening is a wondering activity for children. It not only teaches them about where their food comes from it teaches them patience and hard work.

One year my brother planted jalapeno peppers and they were so hot no one could eat them. My Granny asked if they were hot, and my mom, not realizing they were, told her no. She ate one and her eyes wouldn’t stop watering the rest of the day.

The traveling garden

Once I got married, one of the first things I did was to dig up a small spot of earth to create a vegetable garden. It was not easy as the soil was very weedy, rocky and quite hard. That led me to create a raised garden bed out of cinderblocks and eventually another raised bed out of wood.

Organic raised bed garden made with cinderblocks

My garden always seemed to struggle at our old house because the yard was shaded by so many trees and I always crammed way too many plants in my small space. My garden got moved a total of three times in the seven years we lived there. I had varying degrees of success depending on the year and how dedicated I was to tending it. Last year was my best year by far, but as usual, I still over crowded my garden plot with too many plants.

Read more: Simple Steps To Start A Garden. FREE Printable included in the post.

Read more: Everyone Should Start a Garden This Year.

Raised bed square foot organic garden. Swiss chard, radishes, lettuce, parsley, chives,

Putting in a Back to Eden garden

When we moved to the farm in August, putting in an extra large garden was at the top of my list along with getting chickens before spring. After doing some research on different gardening methods, I decided to give Back to Eden gardening a try.

Starting a Back to Eden deep mulch garden from scratch.

Since the soil of our land is very depleted from the years of conventional farming and tilling, I knew we needed to do something to help heal the land. The Back to Eden gardening method seemed like the right fit. However, it is a lot of work to start one, especially one as big as we are putting in. My current garden plot is 60 ft by 60 ft. Believe it or not, that is smaller than my original plan. I know I dream big, but I’m just so tired of not having enough room to grow everything I want. This year I might have the opposite problem though…

What is a Back to Eden garden?

A Back to Eden Garden is simply another name for a deep mulch garden system. It is supposed to reduce weeding as well as replenish depleted soil with every passing year. The mulch decomposes over time, adding in beneficial nutrients to the soil. From what I’ve read, every year your garden gets better and better.

Supplies needed for starting a Back to Eden garden

  • Weed barrier – newspaper, cardboard, etc.
  • Compost – yard waste or mushroom soil compost
  • Mulch – wood chips and leaf mulch, spoiled hay, straw, etc.

Steps for starting a Back to Eden garden

Step one – lay down a weed barrier. We decided to skip this step because the land was already tilled and there was a lot of crop residue laying in the field, that I decided I’d count as my weed barrier. I might regret my decision but that remains to be seen.

Step two – put down compost about 4 inches thick. Several weeks ago, I ordered 10 cubic yards of yard waste compost to put over the garden. I almost ordered 20 cubic yards! Moving 10 cubic yards of compost was no small task! It took quite a long time and many many wheelbarrows full of compost to move it all to the garden. I originally asked the truck driver if he could just dump the load in the garden. Since the ground is soft, he didn’t want to risk getting the truck stuck in the dirt. That sure would have saved us a lot of time though…

Starting a large Back to Eden deep mulch garden from scratch. Compost layer.

Step three – top with a thick layer (6-8 inches) of wood chip/leaf mulch. I used a website called getchipdrop.com to get several free loads of wood chips. Arborist’s use the website as a way to get rid of their wood chips and logs. It worked out great for us as we didn’t have to spend any money! Thankfully, the wood chips are much lighter than the compost. Moving them all to the garden is still nearly as much work as the compost though.

Starting a Back to Eden deep mulch garden from scratch. Free wood chips.

Step four – let lie until the spring. Hopefully we can get the rest of our wood chips moved to the garden before spring actually comes. I’m telling you, with all the hauling of compost and wood chips, by spring we are going to be in the best shape ever.

Interested in starting your own Back to Eden garden?

If you are interested in starting a Back To Eden garden, here is a website where you can learn all about it.

If you’ve never had a garden before, maybe this is your year! Start with a small 4×8 or 4×12 plot. Plant fun things like flowers as well as veggies. Be sure to let me know if you plan to start a garden this year. I want to cheer you on!

More Gardening Post

Gift Guide for the Gardener

Planning a Large Vegetable Garden

Winter Farm Tour 2019

Simple Steps To Start A Garden (for the beginner)

Everyone Should Start a Garden This Year

Want to follow along?

Stay tuned for more as we continue to renovate our farmhouse, build our homestead and just do life in general.

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4 Comments

  1. Your blog is beautiful and this was a very interesting post! I am going to read more about this method. I also appreciated the link to the free wood chip site… That is very cool, I’ve never heard of it! Can’t wait ’till spring! 🙂

    1. Thank-you Hope! There is also a film called Back To Eden you should check out too. I can’t wait until spring either!
      xo – Laura

  2. We are starting a back to eden garden this year to 🙂 we have had our chickens in the garden tilling it up and eating all the weeds and grass the grew last year. We have our 15 yards of wood chips mulch that will be going into the garden this week. I’m glad I found back to eden and am exited to follow along with you. We also have signed up for chip drop but have never got one yet.

    1. That’s so cool! It took a couple of weeks before I got a wood chip drop. I wish we had chicken but they are coming this spring hopefully!
      xo – Laura

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