Back to Eden Woodchips didn’t work?

Back to Eden woodchip method has been around forever (roughly since trees existed), but was made popular mainstream after a film called Back to Eden with Paul Gautschi. Since that film, many people have tried to use a deep woodchip method on their gardens after seeing Paul’s success.

This episode today will talk a little bit about Back to Eden woodchips. First we take a quick aside to explain some science around WHY you may want to try this. What is a woodchip mulch even trying to do? How does it work? What benefits does it bring? Without knowing that, then you are just acting from a position of misinformation and hope. With understanding comes the ability to maneuver based on your observations received. So this is key, and lasts about 4 minutes. It’s well worth it.

Then we get into 4 common pitfalls that people get themselves into when they try this method. They go too thin. They till the woodchips in. They try to use ONLY woodchips for green leafy crops (see paragraph above), or they don’t allow the system to mature – draw conclusions too quickly. Not giving it enough time is like throwing your tomato plants out after they get their first 2 leaves, because they aren’t producing any tomatoes – so tomato plants obviously don’t work. Then when someone tells you how to grow tomato plants properly, you get defensive and say “Well they didn’t work for me, maybe you were lucky”. This is what we do, and it cracks me up. This is what happens when we fail to obtain knowledge of how the thing we are trying to do ACTUALLY works. So let me help with that.
Quick aside – for the eventual question that always comes – “Deep woodchip mulch doesn’t replicate nature because nature doesn’t drop 10 inches of woodchips down, it only drops leaves down”. Well that’s not exactly true. Nature will drop down a 5 foot thick tree down ). I.e. “woodchips” 5 feet thick. It is among these fallen trees where the most fertility happens.

So yes, for the mostpart, year by year, you get a one inch thick mat of leaves. However, what matters is that if you averaged out a particular square foot area, you would have some years where a whole mature tree falls and takes decades to decompose. That area is under a 5 foot thick wood mulch.

Lastly, understand that we aren’t adding 10 inches of woodchips per year. We are fast-forwarding soil transition from what is typically a grass lawn, to old growth forest soil. If you want to wait 140 years, then sure, just put down an inch of leaves per year, and after year 140 you will have old growth forest soil. However, since most people draw conclusions after 1 season (come on now… nature doesn’t work that fast), then you need to speed it up by causing that “tree fall event” everywhere, by dumping down a foot thick to start. It almost makes sense, right?

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Music credits:

Closer by Jay Someday |
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