Wood chips are hot! Spreading the news with the Back to Eden film

Hi guys. I usually don’t do much blogging on the weekends because there’s too much other stuff going on (mostly outside) but I’m going to make an exception today because I have something pretty cool that I want to share with you. It’ll only take a moment. Or two. I promise. Then you can get back out to your garden. 🙂

But first (hehee) a short anecdote from my own garden. During a lull in the weather this winter, I noticed that the town chip pile had been refreshed and I had an itch to haul wood chips home to my garden. I had an afternoon open. So I grabbed the kids and a couple of cob forks, little Mack helped me hook up the trailer, and we went to town. Literally. We hauled a couple of loads, until our muscles were screaming, our afternoon was gone, and my joy was complete.

one of my friend Anne's beautifully mulched garden beds

one of my friend Anne’s beautifully mulched garden beds

Not actually complete. I would have liked to haul much more. I have a dream of covering all my garden spaces with a very thick layer of wood chips, after all. I am such a fan of using thick mulch in the garden. It smothers the weeds and keeps moisture into the soil. It saves time and energy and water. It’s just smart, especially if you tend to put in too much garden.

I had long ago watched the Back to Eden film, been bowled over by Paul Gautschi’s success with thick wood chip mulch, and ever since have tried to gather enough mulch to cover all my garden spaces with it. The film, made in 2011, shares the story of Paul Gautschi’s lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple growing methods that were given to man in the garden of Eden. The award- winning film continues to receive critical acclaim and has been viewed by over 2.5 million viewers in 220 countries!

Back to Eden gardening, in a nutshell, is a no-till, 90% no irrigation, no chemical fertilizers, no chemical pesticides, completely organic growing system that is capable of being implemented in diverse climates and soil conditions around the world. Check out the film or this website to learn more. It’s inspiring!

Paul’s belief is that by mimicking the self-sustaining design of nature, Back to Eden gardening reduces watering and increases your harvest while requiring minimal labor. The Back to Eden gardening method has been endorsed by the National Gardening Association, Organic Consumers Association, Rodale Institute, Mother Earth News, Dr. Mercola and was featured on FOX News.

“It’s powerful and dramatic how God is moving Back to Eden Film and gardening method all around the world because it works, He is in it, and this is His timing. People are so spiritually and physically hungry and this film ministers to their hunger.” –Paul Gautschi

Maybe you remember when I wrote about my friend Anne’s garden and the remarkable success that she has had with Back to Eden gardening. Anne and I have something in common: we plant too much, and then we have trouble keeping the weeds out. Only now that Anne has got her garden covered with a thick layer of woodchips, she doesn’t. *pout*

But back to that winter lull in the weather: In the Back to Eden style, Amalia and I laid out cardboard, thick layers of newspaper, and thick paper feed bags, and then covered them with a thick (6 to 8 inches, probably) layer of the fresh wood chips from the town chip pile. We mulched about half of one of my garden areas, the one that runs next to the hoop house. It was a good winter afternoon’s work. Winter weather returned the next day, and we never did return to the chip pile. It did take time to haul chips, after all, and time is always in short supply.

That part of the garden is where I took this picture.

That part of the garden is where I took this picture.

Enter our wet, cool spring. I planted other garden areas, but this area next to the hoop house was the last one I got to. The half that was mulched? Only a few wispy stragglers of bindweed had gotten through the thick wood chip mulch. I pulled the few weeds, took out my packets of seeds, cleared the wood chips away from where I wanted to plant, and planted squash and melons. Time to do this: 15 minutes.

The other half of the garden space? Oh, Gentle Reader. Even with little Mack’s reluctant untiring weed-jerking help, it probably took us three hours to clear away the waist-high weeds that had sprouted up out of that garden space. I thought dark thoughts the whole time, about how I could have avoided this, had I hauled just one or two more loads of chips . . . finally we got it weeded, heavily mulched with hay, and planted–mostly in onions and more melons. Time to do this: 4 hours, at least. 🙁

I entertained my morose shoulder angel by thinking about how much effort and time we could have saved by just hauling another load or two of mulch that day. 🙁 But I’m over it now. No looking back–!!

Ever onward!

In my garden, the number one factor that will determine success or failure, for me, is adequate supplies of mulch. I use wood chips, hay, straw, grass clippings, whatever I can get my anxious, grubby hands on. In years when I just can’t accumulate or haul enough mulch to cover my garden spaces, my garden–or at least vast swaths of it–are lost to weeds, and I have to put much more water on it. I simply don’t have the time to pull weeds out of all the garden spaces that I plant.

So Paul Gautschi’s Back to Eden film, and his spreading the gentle, simple, scripture-laced message of how to garden successfully with a heavy wood chip mulch, has made a big difference in my gardening life.

Did you know this: that According to World Vision, “One in eight people in the world do not have enough to eat.” Paul’s Back to Eden Film addresses the root causes of hunger by teaching people an organic growing method. I’m happy to see that he is embarking on a campaign to make his film into a multi-language DVD to share with other cultures. Teaching people who don’t have enough food how to grow their own could make a life-saving difference between hunger or having full tummies.


(By the way, if you decide to donate*, there are several attractive perks for you to choose from, if you’d like.)

And that’s why I’m writing a blog post early this Saturday morning.

Paul has invited me to be an affiliate of this effort to help feed the hungry and teach organic gardening around the world by translating the Back to Eden Film into 18 languages. He has set up a crowd-funding effort at indiegogo, and I’m honored to be a part of this!

So if you’d like to learn more about Paul and his Back to Eden Film, go here. If you’d like to contribute to the effort to translate his DVD into 18 languages, click over here. Donate today and you can be part of a very cool thing, teaching others around the world how to improve their lives by gardening organically with thick mulch.

And it would be awesome if you could simply share this post with your friends, by tweeting, sharing on Facebook, emailing it, or whatever you do. Thanks for helping me spread the wood chip mulch word!

  • Follow Back to Eden Film all over the internet. Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo. Get extra connected and LIKE whatever we post, and you might be helping your friends discover the most epic crowd funding campaign they’ll ever join. 🙂 Fun, eh?

Thanks for checking in with me this weekend. I hope you have a lovely one, Gentle Reader!


*Oh, and all donations are tax-deductible!



12 thoughts on “Wood chips are hot! Spreading the news with the Back to Eden film

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Isn’t it, Anne!? I’d say the more Paul is spread around the world, the better! Thanks for being part of it!

  1. Sojourner

    I had no idea Back to Eden was a film. I have the book but I’ll have to look for the film version on Netflix. I applaud your lovely gardening successes. We’re getting ready to move, but once we settle in, I can’t wait to get my hands in some dirt!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sojourner, I think you have to go to the website (it’s on my post) to view the film. It’s a bit long, so make some popcorn and settle in to enjoy it. It’s totally worth the time spent.

  2. cookinmom

    Ohhh Amy!!! I have been there! It only took me one afternoon of pulling weeds (ahhumm..) to understand what you are speaking of. I do what you do, cool fall/winter, spread chips as much as I can. I do love to work in air conditioning verses heat! That is when I put it down super thick so that I don’t have to mess with it again for a long time. It lasts all summer/winter. It was so nice to go out to the garden this past spring and just plant seeds (as you kinda mentioned, haa) and not pull one weed (well, ok…maybe one). It was such a joy and not drudgery at all (my carrots were soo happy)! We actually got to plant everything on time! Whenever it’s cool, I think woodchips. My garden is so beautiful now that it’s been over two years of chips. I do not have chickens so recently I’ve been burying my kitchen compost in the garden. I spread it in the beds and cover it with woodchips so the critters won’t get it and it has worked out great! Kitchen scraps that needs lots of breaking down I put in a separate pile. Whenever I want my woodchip to breakdown fast, I water, water, water. A friend gives me her chicken manure and I make manure tea and spread it on plants when they look sad and gives them that extra boost and coffee grounds from (you know where) as well. Strawberries turned out great because I just cover them ever so lightly with woodchips when they are finished for the season. They came back with great vigor like Paul said. He was right! I look at the positive when it comes down to it…I would much rather workout spreading mulch than pulling weeds!!! Happy gardening! :0)

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Rose, of course, you’re right! My stunning example (of the 4-hour weeding session, oiy!) reminded me of this fact: I’d rather haul and spread chips in the winter/early spring, than pull weeds in the hothot summer. Thankfully we do have a hay man who puts up our hay in square bales every summer, so I’ve been spreading hay like crazy. This is easier for me to do than haul woodchips, although it’s not as heavy and effective against bindweed as the thick layer of woodchips. I’d love to see photos of your garden, Rose. (hint)

      1. cookinmom

        My garden is done for the spring. 🙁 Only thing left is tomatoes, eggplant, some peppers and pumpkins. We have had zero rain here for the last few months and it’s been in the upper 90’s-100’s. It seems like forever. When it was raining, we had a bounty of everything. Now, with no rain it’s been half of everything. One of my cherry tomatoes in my raised bed actually schribbled up even though I was watering 2x a day. I made the big mistake of making a raised bed. Raised beds require tons of water even though you have woodchips on them. Water, water, water…no more for me! Gonna try and convince my husband to make it a normal in ground garden w/ borders. Hay is better than nothin’! :0) You might hang a big sign out in front of your yard that says “WOODCHIPS NEEDED” if your street is in route to the dump (I think you mentioned a while back). Ya never know! If they do show up you could give them a loaf of your home-made bread with a drink! Where there is good food, men usually will show up!! That would keep um comin’ back!! lol

        1. dramamamafive Post author

          Now that’s a brilliant idea. I’m going to work on that sign. . . hmmm . . . glad you reminded me about the raised beds needing more water. I’ve always felt a bit like a garden slacker for not having tidy raised beds! I wish I could send you some of our rain. *sigh* I watered for just a little bit in part of my garden yesterday and got puddles. The ground is saturated. But this week is dry, so maybe it’ll even out. I do enjoy chatting garden with you. 🙂

  3. Salma

    Wow, I had no idea about back to Eden Gardening. With what you explained, it seems all over the most logical thing to implement! Good luck with helping spread the message!

  4. peter kowpak

    Hi Amy.
    I never thought about using wood chips before, I figured that the acidity in the chips would burn the plants, unless they are aged. My daughter’s ex-boyfriend cuts down trees for a living, maybe he could drop some chips on some future jobs, save me some time and/or money. Maybe that could be an option for you or your readers too, I know that tree trimmers are always looking for places to get rid of their chips, they would more than likely bring them for free. BTW the Dr. Wyche’s are doing great, thank you!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I know that some people voice that concern, but the areas of my garden (this is anecdotal of course) that are covered with wood chips actually do quite well, and my friend Anne (http://vomitingchicken.com/return-annes-back-eden-garden-year-two/) has had wonderful success. I actually do have a wood cutter friend, Larry, who occasionally dumps a big load of wood chips and firewood in my yard for me. It makes me very happy! I’m glad the Dr. Wyche’s are doing so well! Still my favorite. Good to hear from you, Pete!

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