Tag: back to eden

Happenings Around the Homestead – A BIG Week!

Wow!  What a week this has been around the homestead!  We finally began the project of spreading the woodchips for Project Eden, our Back to Eden garden.  What a project this has been too!  Let me start with a little history:

  • Sometime between 12-18 months ago I first encountered the Back to Eden film.
  • Being unable to find woodchips in time for this past year’s garden, I covered in oak leaves.
  • Though the garden did well, I didn’t fertilize, and it showed.  This seems to be essential for good production on year #1.
  • This year I wanted to expand the garden, and began making plans to do so.
  • We encountered a company doing a lot of wood cutting and chipping around power lines in our area.  After approaching them about two months ago, they began dumping chips in our yard.
  • We arranged to have a mini front-end-loader to be delivered for our use over Thanksgiving weekend.
  • We finally received enough chips to do our garden the day before Thanksgiving.
  • We marked out the garden space, a 84 foot x 65 foot garden, which is about 10 foot shorter than I had expected, but still a respectable garden area.
  • We spread a very thick layer of oak leaves over most of the garden, a commodity we have in abundance.
  • We started spreading the chips and covered about half of the garden on the day after Thanksgiving.
  • We spread the rest of the chips on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

I thought a few pictures and even a couple of timelapse videos might be nice to document the process better.  Here are some pictures of all the wood chips.  Crazy, isn’t it?

Some of our woodchips

Some of our woodchips

Some of our woodchips.

Some of our woodchips.

Some of our woodchips.

Some of our woodchips.

And here are a couple of time lapse videos showing our work:


So, even though we are just a few days into this, I already have a few lessons learned:

  1. A 5400 square foot garden is HUGE.  😀  Don’t expect the laying of those chips to go fast, even with a machine.
  2. The laying of newspaper on the base layer may be essential, but don’t think you are going to do this with even a slight breeze.  Three of us totally failed at this.
  3. Wood chips begin decomposing faster than you think.  Our two most fresh piles look considerably different than the one from even a couple of weeks ago.

We also expected to dig out a stump in the middle of the garden area, and were quickly reminded how strong the stump that came from a mature oak tree is.  Wow!  Seriously, we couldn’t even budge this thing.

I want to give a special shout out to a couple of my friends, one who loaned the front-end loader and one who delivered it.  Thanks guys!  I also want to say how thankful I am for my two youngest sons who worked tirelessly helping me on this project for two days.  I couldn’t have done this without them.

Happenings Around the Homestead

It has been another quiet week outside of the chickens, which has been quite busy.  I’m not going to spoil it though – check back tomorrow for more on that.

The cold snap has come and gone, but it is raining buckets of water as I write this on Sunday evening.  We are planning on starting the Back to Eden project this upcoming Friday, pending the mini-front-end-loader/backhoe arrives as expected.  There is way too much to spread in one weekend by hand, but with some machine assistance, we can get it done.

The end goal of this new garden area is an 80 ft. x 80 ft. garden with four inches of woodchips on top of some leaves.  I had hoped to get some manure for the bottom layer, and actually had two offers for some, but my work schedule has not cooperated at all.  Perhaps 20 cubic yards of it will appear in my yard before Friday.  Dear manure donor, if you read this and decide to help, please dump it in the already gardened area – it will make it much easier to spread.  😀

Unfortunately, without the compost under the woodchips as I had hoped for, the first year of this garden style is likely going to be less than stellar.  The compost speeds up the process of getting the soil ready for the first year, as the wood chips will not have decomposed much yet, but even without the manure, the garden should be better than it has been.  I think I will supplement the decomposition process with blood meal, which should help heat the chips up enough to begin breaking them down some.

Again, a slow week this week, but next Monday there should be some exciting updates, with pictures!

Happenings Around the Homestead

It has been another slow week around the homestead.  I’ve been wresting with a cough for a couple of weeks now, so I dare not get out and work in the cold.  And cold it is!  It has already reached the mid-teens.  For some, that may not be that cold, but it is quite early in the year for us to experience that in western Kentucky.

As I was going down to work on the chicken coop Saturday (more on that tomorrow), I noticed how healthy and vibrant the horehound and catnip are.  It is such a joy to see plants growing and thriving in the bitter cold like this.  That is one reason I enjoy the mints so much, the thrive all winter long.

We have also received our first snow worth mentioning this morning, with the ground and the roads barely covered.  I thought we might get more snow that we did, but honestly, I am indifferent about it as long as I can safely drive.  My boys, however, love the snow.  I don’t, however, like the bitter cold, which is what we have going on right now.

I guess the last think worth noting for the week is that the wood chippers seems to have moved on, and I am two loads short of what I need.  I do have enough to move forward with my Back to Eden garden though, and I will begin working on it as soon as this cough subsides.

Happenings Around the Homestead

It has been another slow week around the homestead, though we did receive two more loads of woodchips for the big garden project this year.  Now that I type that, I am not sure I have mentioned it on here before.  It is a unique way of gardening that people have been made aware of through a film titled Back to Eden.  Basically, the premise of it all is that you provide a ground covering, preferably wood chips.  The wood chips keep the ground moist and fertile.  While that is the elevator pitch about Back to Eden gardening, it is well worth watching the film, which is well put together and held my interest, which says a lot.

Regarding that, I am still trying to find good, composted manure to put as a base layer for the garden. The problem is threefold: finding it, getting it here, and having enough.  That reminds me, I need to call a friend this week, as he may have a source for horse manure, though I am not sure how composted it might be.

The garlic I planted a few weeks ago is starting to sprout, though it is tiny still.  The chickens are my big challenge though, as they seem to think it looks like fun to pull on those green garlic leaves.  Hopefully they will get tired of it before long, or at least long enough for them to get rooted well.

I have also been posting on Facebook about my need for small jars.  This is for an ongoing popcorn experiment.  I am growing landrace popcorn.  As part of this ongoing experiment, I need to save the best seeds from year to year, which means I have to test pop all the popcorn.  The seeds that are saved are those which are the best popping corn, though I strongly take the ease of shucking and the appearance into consideration.  The reason I need the jars is to ensure the water content of all the popcorn remains the same.  Yes, it sure is a lot of work, but it keeps my interest.  Regarding the jars, I am making progress.  I have already received a small number of babyfood jars, and my mom had some other small jars she gave.  I then had a friend let me know she is saving her jars for me, so it looks like I am on my way to having enough jars.  Thanks to everyone for the jars!

I think that is all for the week.  It will likely be slow for a few weeks until I start spreading the woodchips, then it will pick up again for a short stint before the winter slows things down until March or so.


Happenings on the Homestead

Whew!  This has been a busy weekend around the homestead, though that doesn’t mean much at all when comparing it to the busyness of the spring, summer, and early fall.

The number one task I had for the weekend was to get the Carolina Reapers potted for the winter, and that is done.  I also had hoped to pot the Pineapple Sage, but I didn’t have enough room on the drying trays to dry it all yet, so I will pot it later this week.

Speaking of the Pineapple Sage, this little beauty is still in full bloom!  It is such a refreshing jolt of summer red in a world of fall-like colors right now.  Look at this shot taken yesterday:

Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage in Full Bloom

In addition to Pineapple Sage, I needed to dry some Horehound as well.  As soon as I get a little more room, I’ll trim back the Pineapple Sage some more, dehydrate the rest, and then pot it up for the winter.  Speaking of that, I am still trying to determine if I will pot the Horehound or not. I  don’t know if it can survive the winter or not outside.  Okay, I just checked.  The Horehound seems to be hardy, so I will hope it survives the winter.

I do have at least one other plant I need to pot up for the winter – a small Eucalyptus tree.  This thing is kind of amazing.  The leaves smell just like Vick’s Vapor Rub.  😀  It won’t survive the winter here unless it is older and more established, so I will pot it, I think, for the winter so it can live another year.

I almost always write these posts over the weekend, and this post is no different.  After I wrote it though, I ended up shelling some of my flour corn.  I shelled all the Cherokee Gourdseed Corn that I grew this year (about 2 gallons shelled) and about half or a little less of the Cherokee White Flour Corn (about a gallon shelled so far).  I was shocked at how easy it was to shell the gourdseed corn – more to come on that later.

The other big task of the weekend was knocking down corn stalks, which my oldest son took care of for me.  He also worked on burning a big pile of brush and weeds that has needed to be taken care of for quite some time.  I am not sure he knows this fully, but I really appreciated his help.  He wasn’t alone though. My middle son also was out there with a machete whacking away at weeds and brush, trying to clean up this corner of the yard.  Good boys, they are.

I am so ready to start spreading these woodchips I have been collecting for next year’s garden, but I am still at least two loads short of what I need.  I am not sure where the wood cutters are working this week, but they only dropped off one load. I might try to catch them again Monday morning at the gas station to encourge them to drop off some more.  It’s too bad this isn’t the same priority for them that it is for me.  🙂


Happenings Around the Homestead

The last few weeks have been busy ones, and thankfully things around the homestead haven’t demanded too much attention from me.

Most of the summer crops are exerting their last energy for the season, and in fact, we expected frost on early Sunday morning, though we didn’t get any at our house.  Even so, I covered the Sweet Basil, the Carolina Reaper Peppers, and the Pineapple Sage so they could all live another day.  It seems we won’t have danger for another frost this week, but next weekend I might cut the basil and the Pineapple Sage back and dry the leaves.

The Pineapple Sage may live all winter.  It can survive some cold, but the leaves would all die in a frost, which is why I covered it.  It sure is nice seeing it right now though, as this is the first time I have seen it bloom – nice red flowers that the butterflies seems to love.  I’ll cut it back to about four inches above the ground, and I’ll try to remember to cover it if it gets bitter cold this winter.

The basil, however, will die once the temperature goes below freezing.  I am trying to decide yet if I will take a cutting to bring inside in an attempt to keep a plant alive all winter, hoping to kickstart the season next year.

The Carolina Reapers are a pet project of mine.  This is the world’s hottest pepper right now, and no, I don’t plan on eating one.  They do, however, make an interesting pesticide that keeps most animals away from the garden.  They are REEEEEEEEEEALLY a long season pepper though, so I plan to prune them, dig them up, and bring them in for the winter.  Yes, peppers will survive all winter, and they will even flourish the next year.  It will be nice to get a kick start on the season with these bad boys.

Speaking of flourishing next year – I hope that is what I say about my garden next year.  I have finally taken the plunge and officially taken delivery of my first truckloads of woodchips.  Last year I began Back to Eden gardening, which is basically covering your garden with a biodegradable covering such as leaves or wood chips.  This past year I used dry oak leaves, and let me tell you, it made a difference.  The soil was much more moist underneath the leaves all year, and presumably they began to decompose during the year feeding the plants.  The more proper way to do this is with wood chips though, which is why I have taken delivery of them.  THREE LOADS!





The next step is to begin to spread these over the garden.  I also plan to expand the garden this year, so I will spread them there as well, with a thick layer of newspaper underneath in order to keep the grass from growing through.  More to come on this …

It won’t be long until the soil begins to rest and replenish, and while the soil rests, I will begin dreaming of next year’s garden.