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-   -   Back to Eden Garden "Ish" (https://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=813090)

bnorth12 12-04-2017 11:15 AM

Back to Eden Garden "Ish"
 
I am in the process of setting up next years garden. I recently watched the documentary "Back to Eden Garden". After watching the documentary I spent some time reading up on sheet mulching/composting.

I live in North Texas and the soil, (hard clay), in the area where the garden will be located has far more in common with concrete than it does soil right now. Over the next several weeks I am cleaning out the deep bedding from our two goat loafing sheds and moving it to the garden to cover the area. Most of the garden won't be planted until the first two weeks of April, so I am hoping the bedding will be well underway to composting by that time.

Does anyone else have experience with lasagna gardens or sheet composting in a garden?

RAEIndustries 12-04-2017 11:20 AM

Im not familiar with that but one book ive used often from the library here is called "Square Foot Gardening" with many different ideas and solutions for various growing conditions and size areas

vivisky 12-04-2017 11:32 AM

Yes, we sheet compost, in clay soil. I've gardened in mucky soil, loamy (perfect) soil, sandy loam, and now for 20+ yrs in clay. Clay is actually a good soil to have, as it retains nutrients and moisture. Downside is the heaviness--which can become hardened if it is left exposed.

Be aware, it will take far more than 1 season to improve your soul.
In Texas however you can accomplish it faster that about 5-7 yrs (which ours took).

We dig in all the kitchen scraps, plus additional egg shells, coffee grounds, stale bread/ends from a small private school near us. Also keep all soil entirely covered with leaf mulch, grass clippings, and wood chips along paths.

We have a few areas of perennial weeds which we smother with cardboard or multi-layers of brown paper lawn bags. Weighted down with leaf mulch or wood chips. These areas are left for several years (and watch carefully for any weeds creeping out along edges).

We did bring in some "topsoil" to raise the gardens up a few inches, but mixed in with the clay soil. That is the only purchased "amendment" however I also buy alfalfa cubes and put a handful at base of shrubs (roses, currants, berries) and if I have enough also tomatoes & peppers. Alfalfa cubes are at the feed store (horses eat them?). Very inexpensive.

Don't try to work the soil too much--just dig under with a shovel and add your 2 gallons of kitchen scraps, cover it back up, and let the worms do the work! We leave the shovel right there in the soil, so in a few days, next 2 gallons of kitchen scraps goes in another spot. In a years time you may have gotten every area of your garden sheet composted.

Of course your growing beds won't be getting 2 gallons dug in, for 3-4 months, so once you've harvested, that's when you focus on that bed.

I havent watched the video you mention mention, will have to check it out.

Lugh MacArawn 12-04-2017 12:44 PM

I am in central AZ. I use a variety of methods, as some take longer. Yes, I have used, and have zero issue with those whom do use, chemical fertilizers. My garden has a layer of caliche about 16-18" down. I dug my first beds down about 3 feet and buried branches from the trees, manure, leaves etc. I then backfilled about 2 feet and then mixed compost into the top foot. This gave me raised beds about 12" high. Secondary areas I dug down about 6-12", piled compostables and covered with the soil. Tertiary areas received mulching with newspaper covered with grass, leaves and/or manure, cardboard covered with grass, leaves and/or manure, wood chips (basically whatever I could get free), manure, green manures, again, basically anything. I currently only have two compost heaps, at one time I had four.

I dig my beds every few years to place additional branch scraps. I am in a continuous process of adding layers to my grow beds. I basically missed one year due to work and most of the organic material in the soil "burned" up during the summer, so the addition of more materials never ends.

Just do not expect immediate results. Gautchi has spent years doing it. It is not for all types of crops and all types of gardens, but it does make the work "easier". I have not found it to reduce the amount of work so much as it makes the work much easier and faster to accomplish by hand.

S610 12-04-2017 08:39 PM

What is in that spot now? Lawn or heavy weeds/grasses? I have seen videos of people that put several layers on a section of lawn and could use it several months later but that is iffy.

If you need to use that patch in April and it is currently overgrown with something you might want to come up with a different plan. Options would be cover the grass with a few inches of top soil and compost, cover in plastic and plant through it once the weeds are somewhat dead (supplementing plants with compost), or till just the very top to get rid of weeds and then start your back to eden thing after.

NY Min 12-04-2017 09:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bnorth12 (Post 16864466)
I live in North Texas and the soil, (hard clay), in the area where the garden will be located has far more in common with concrete than it does soil right now.

Sounds like you're dealing with good ol' adobe. Great for building houses, not so great for building gardens. Best approach, although it's a lot of work, is to double-dig the bed so you can mix the clay well with your soil amendments all the way down. That will give you something less than a brick to work with now. You can edge the beds to have room for the added volume. Then keep adding compost each year, and deep-mulch on top of the soil to keep the moisture in. My Dad turned hundreds of square feet of adobe into beautiful gardens in just a couple of years. (Of course, none of us ever wanted to look at a spade or a rototiller again for the rest of our lives by the time we got done. You might want to bring in a backhoe if you haven't got homegrown peons. :) )

Hilltopper 12-04-2017 09:16 PM

I started a new garden pretty much from packed clay in recent years but I have worked to till and double dig in a whole lot of manured bedding from chickens, rabbits goats and horses . This year I am covering the top of the perenial section with leaves and will dig in more manure in the rest of the garden . I hope I can bed it thickly with leaves each fall to keep the weeds down and increase fertility .

inMichigan 12-05-2017 05:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bnorth12 (Post 16864466)
I am in the process of setting up next years garden.

As for which books or method, first you should define what the long term goal of your garden is?

a) Supplemental 'salad' for a few meals a week
b) Grow a fraction of your food calories while gaining confidence, skills and tools to be able to up that percentage
c) Learn to select and save seeds
d) ?

inMichigan

S610 12-05-2017 07:08 AM

Also op realize the whole back to eden thing is about letting the flora/fauna in the soil flourish and build their colonies/tunnels etc...

If your soil is hard as a rock there may not be much flora/fauna living in it, but if you added a bunch of compost/straw and tilled it in once you could greatly increase the soil life in a few months.

I tilled a garden patch last spring, am slowly working on prepping another section of wild/natural field right next to it. The tilled/fed/watered garden area as a LOT more huge fat worms in it than the wild field does, even though the soil was disturbed. Though now I only dig by hand to disturb it as little as possible.

Plus be aware if there is grass there now you could have a HUGE cutworm problem in the spring after planting, it was a nightmare last year, I lost way over half of all the plants I tried to grow because of the amount of grubs in the soil. If you aren't familiar with cutworms, they don't eat the leaves they just cut through the stem an inch or two above the ground. You go out one morning to find all of your beautiful foot tall plants lying on the ground with cut stems (it is horrible). If that happens run to the store and get Bt (which is organic) as the little collars and other cut worm fixes won't work with a bad infestation in what was formerly grass.

st0n3 12-05-2017 07:43 AM

Prepping the soil with compost is a good plan.... But, I find that an inch or two thick does very little.
Currently, I'm using the dump an entire truckload in overlapping piles method.
My experience over the last few years is that leaving a large enough amount for a few months, or longer.... Allows the concept to work.
The current vegetation dies, the soil softens, and after shifting the pile to previously developed areas of the garden, I can break up the area under the pile with a mattock, removing the tree roots, Even smaller stumps! Also the smilax tubers, and the Japanese honeysuckle and other vines have completely died!

Using an inch or two or three (in my experience), only encourages whatever is currently growing there.... And really isn't enough to moisten the underlying soil.

Heartlander 12-05-2017 08:02 AM

Check out how much rain they get where the Garden of Eden video is made. It makes a huge difference IMHO. It made much more sense how it was possible to be productive without watering much if at all. It is far from ideal in my area due to the lack of summer rains and lots of wind to dry things out.

S610 12-05-2017 08:02 AM

Here are a couple of methods, the tarp method would work well for areas that won't be densely planted (maybe a few cucs, tomatoes, squash etc...). Though spending $60 to rent a tiller may be the best way to start the first year.


Also I believe with the back to eden method people collect huge piles of wood chips and let them compost/rot for a year or two before spreading heavily all over the garden. Using a ton of fresh wood chips can bind up too much nitrogen. That is another reason why it may not be practical to try to "rush into" the back to eden method (though straw, grass clippings, or other types of much can be used instead of wood chips the first year or two).

Here is another good video on layering to get rid of weeds, she makes a great point about putting compost on top of cardboard not being so good, and does it differently. She also uses a fork instead of a shovel and that part is interesting too:


NY Min 12-05-2017 08:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vivisky (Post 16864690)
Be aware, it will take far more than 1 season to improve your soul.

So you won't be let back in Eden right away. :D:

S610 12-05-2017 08:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Heartlander (Post 16874602)
Check out how much rain they get where the Garden of Eden video is made. It makes a huge difference IMHO. It made much more sense how it was possible to be productive without watering much if at all. It is far from ideal in my area due to the lack of summer rains and lots of wind to dry things out.

Have you seen the trench method to stretch watering? Wont' work for huge rows, but works well for smaller densely planted raised beds.

Basically you trench down the middle of each bed then fill with rotting straw, pieces of rotting log, etc...and cover it. The trench/rotting debris holds on to water much longer than regular soil.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUZfourw_zw&t=524s

mtnairkin 12-05-2017 08:54 AM

I haven't worked with your kind of soil but there is a lot of hard pan (and lots of rocks in my area). I have used mulch of all kinds in my gardens though with great results.

I even went so far recently of using a backhoe to deeply dig my soil and mix it up with much manure and compost. The initial results were excellent. I broke up new ground and planted cover crops for a couple of years before I installed my high tunnel over that particular spot. I like it so well that I'm going to (and have done some small spots in existing gardens to experiment) dig more areas deeply.

I have way too much garden space to deep dig by hand.

bnorth12 12-05-2017 09:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Heartlander (Post 16874602)
Check out how much rain they get where the Garden of Eden video is made. It makes a huge difference IMHO. It made much more sense how it was possible to be productive without watering much if at all. It is far from ideal in my area due to the lack of summer rains and lots of wind to dry things out.

Watering is one thing I plan to do. I will be laying out a drip system with two rows of drip tape down each 3 foot wide bed. We average around 30" or rain a year in North Texas, but it comes mainly in the Spring and in the Fall. The rain infiltration rate over our property has greatly improved over the past 4 years through the use of rotational grazing, but the spot the garden is going in is one of the areas with the lowest soil organic matter on our property. Five years ago one inch or rain over a few hours would have been a big run off event on the rest of the property, now run off does not occur as often.

bnorth12 12-05-2017 09:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by S610 (Post 16874610)
Here are a couple of methods, the tarp method would work well for areas that won't be densely planted (maybe a few cucs, tomatoes, squash etc...). Though spending $60 to rent a tiller may be the best way to start the first year.

No dig, two ways to clear weeds - YouTube

Also I believe with the back to eden method people collect huge piles of wood chips and let them compost/rot for a year or two before spreading heavily all over the garden. Using a ton of fresh wood chips can bind up too much nitrogen. That is another reason why it may not be practical to try to "rush into" the back to eden method (though straw, grass clippings, or other types of much can be used instead of wood chips the first year or two).

Here is another good video on layering to get rid of weeds, she makes a great point about putting compost on top of cardboard not being so good, and does it differently. She also uses a fork instead of a shovel and that part is interesting too:

How to Make a No-Dig Garden: Morag Gamble's Method for Simple Abundance - Our Permaculture Life - YouTube

While I would love to add wood chips to the mulch going on the beds, I have not found an economical source in the area. The majority of the mulch going down is coming from the deep bedding in our two goat loafing sheds. This has a high nitrogen content with the manure and urine content. I not sure about the carboard/newspaper advocated by the back to eden garden methods. In place of the cardboard I am thinking a 3" layer of oak leaves that compress down to leaf mold under the bedding hay over the next five months will help keep weeds down.

Up to 2 weeks ago the area had a canopy of oak trees. I cut out 6 large trees to open the area up for the garden. I have also been raking leaves from areas of heavy concentration to add to the garden area.

bnorth12 12-05-2017 09:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by S610 (Post 16874354)
Also op realize the whole back to eden thing is about letting the flora/fauna in the soil flourish and build their colonies/tunnels etc...

If your soil is hard as a rock there may not be much flora/fauna living in it, but if you added a bunch of compost/straw and tilled it in once you could greatly increase the soil life in a few months.

I tilled a garden patch last spring, am slowly working on prepping another section of wild/natural field right next to it. The tilled/fed/watered garden area as a LOT more huge fat worms in it than the wild field does, even though the soil was disturbed. Though now I only dig by hand to disturb it as little as possible.

Plus be aware if there is grass there now you could have a HUGE cutworm problem in the spring after planting, it was a nightmare last year, I lost way over half of all the plants I tried to grow because of the amount of grubs in the soil. If you aren't familiar with cutworms, they don't eat the leaves they just cut through the stem an inch or two above the ground. You go out one morning to find all of your beautiful foot tall plants lying on the ground with cut stems (it is horrible). If that happens run to the store and get Bt (which is organic) as the little collars and other cut worm fixes won't work with a bad infestation in what was formerly grass.

The area I am breaking out for the beds is a 50x50 area. The garden will be laid out with ten beds three feet wide and 50 feet long with two foot walk ways. I am working with a broadfork to till a portion of the area to a depth of 16 inches and the rest will not be tilled as i don't have enough time to get it all broken out. The entire area will be heavily mulched with bedding hay from our goats. I should have enough soiled bedding hay to put between 6 and 8 inches on the 50x50 area.

I have no idea if I will be able to get all of the beds planted this spring, I have grand plans and limited time. If I can not get vegetables planted in all of the beds the remainder will get a cover crop mix, clover, field peas, Brassica (turnips and tillage radish), and either rye or wheat. I might interseed the cover crop areas with sugar sorghum and sweet corn. I have been following a few other farms/ranchers using regenerative agriculture practices on a much larger scale and see the benefits. I also realize the first year or two could be disappointing.

bnorth12 12-05-2017 09:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by S610 (Post 16871186)
What is in that spot now? Lawn or heavy weeds/grasses? I have seen videos of people that put several layers on a section of lawn and could use it several months later but that is iffy.

If you need to use that patch in April and it is currently overgrown with something you might want to come up with a different plan. Options would be cover the grass with a few inches of top soil and compost, cover in plastic and plant through it once the weeds are somewhat dead (supplementing plants with compost), or till just the very top to get rid of weeds and then start your back to eden thing after.

The area was under the canopy of several large Oak trees and has a sparse covering of native grasses. The normal leaf litter from the trees has always suppressed most of the plant growth. We have kept a straw bale garden along the south edge of the area for a few years, and the soil under and around the straw bales is softer with a much higher organic content.

Cowboypapa 12-05-2017 10:03 AM

We have a real acidic clay where we are. Last year I tried the waffle garden approach, which I modified a little. The backhoe made it easier. I dug out out 4'x4' square holes 3 feet deep. I filled them with a mix of horse, cow, goat manure, clean turf soil and golf course sand. 2 mister heads per hole was enough to keep the holes wet but not standing water. I only fertilized once. Best crop ive had to date.


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