Back to Eden Gardening

Using leaf litter instead of wood chips

Autumn yard cleanup.

If you are an avid gardener, you probably have heard of back to Eden gardening which was made famous and brought to the spot light by Paul Gautschi. If you haven’t watched the Back To Eden Organic Gardening Film, then stop right now, watch it, come back and read the rest of this post.

Ok, now hopefully you’ve watched the film. Inspiring, isn’t it? There are so many nuggets of information you can glean from him and what he has done and is doing. For our small little farm plot, I’ve taken Paul’s concept and adapted it a bit by learning from the successes and failures of others who have tried the wood chip approach.

First let’s look at three reasons as to why you probably should not use wood chips:

1. Termites

Not everyone will have this problem of course, but depending on your area, you may see an increase in termite activity.

2. Immediate benefit

In the film, Paul mentions that it’s taken years for his garden soil to become as rich as it is. It’s rich and it’s layers upon layers thick of organic material because he’s been adding to it for years and can now reap the benefits. Because of the amount of time it takes for wood chips to break down, you won’t be able to reap of the benefits for a few years.

3. Direct Seed

You cannot direct seed into wood chips. There are several reasons why and you can find out more information from Back to Eden: One Gardener’s Experience. Make sure to read through her article as well as through all of the helpful comments.

My Suggestion

If you want to mulch your garden and want to reap of the benefits immediately, then I suggest using leaf litter. Leaf litter breaks down faster, you will immediately attract earth worms that will add great organic material to your soil, and you can direct seed into leaf litter.

I suggest raking your leaves in the early autumn when they start to fall and add them to your garden. If you don’t have a plethora of trees on your homestead, then ask your neighbors if you can have their leaf litter, and keep a few bags of reserved leaves. You don’t want to pour it on thick; just enough to cover so that you can’t see the ground. Once the rains come, the bottom of the pile will become quite warm and the leaves will break down even more. By the time spring rolls around, you will have a great medium to direct seed and transplant into.

When the spring comes, if your leaves have broken down to the point where you can see some of the ground, cover it with some leaves you have in reserve. I hope you will try this and see what better results you get from your garden by adding a better organic material to it such as leaf litter.

Please note, that using 100% all natural leaf litter as mulch could attract hideouts for spiders and grasshoppers. So, make sure to have some Pest B-Gone handy as well. If you do try it or have tried it in the pass, please post your experience in the comments. If you have any questions, you can post those in the comments as well.

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Written by Joshua Parker

My name is Joshua Parker, and I am a Lifestyle Coach for the DPP (Diabetes Prevention Program) as well as a community herbalist working towards becoming a medical herbalist.

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