Friday, November 23, 2012
Back to Eden Film
Back To Eden Project film
I certainly enjoyed the films message and presentation. I also felt a bit of, well, not really sure what the word is I am looking for. Just a sense of rightness to see such a wonderful presentation repeating the message I have been writing about when it comes to sustainable perma-culture here around the Small-Hold.
Using the heavy wood chip mulch method I have built some amazing raised beds and kept new and fragile little fruit trees very much alive through the worst drought we have had in decades.
I did have a little bit of criticism in a minor way and a major way.
My minor point is that I am betting that Washington state is not plagued by morning glory / Bindweed. The truth is that the mulch method does not even remotely work well against this invasive plant. Believe me I know. I have never found a way to completely kill it but I have found a way to keep it under relative control but it requires a deep Winter tilling. The problem with Morning glory is that when you chop up the root system it just produces about a million new plants. You can get the new plants under control by pulling them enough that you out run each little sections stored energy but well it takes weeks. Mulching over morning glory does Nothing. Even using a newspaper barrier doesn't stop it for long either. A good deep Winter tilling though exposes and tears up the root at a time when it will not sprout and if you can time it right before a good hard freeze the chopped up root sections actually get killed off.
The problems with this method are that you really have to have a large tractor mounted tiller to get deep enough and if you use wood chips as a mulch you cannot till the chips into the garden soil or you will create a different problem.
The last problem is why I use grass clippings. It requires a bit more work to get the garden covered but the clippings break down faster and actually add nitrogen to the soil instead of taking it out like the wood chips do.
Which brings me to my larger problem with the wood chip mulch method of gardening. Sustainability.
Let's be honest here which form of mulch do you think will be available in a grid down situation? My guess is that for 99% of us wood chips produced from chippers is going to be a thing of the past. Saw dust might be more readily available but clean saw dust and hauling it will still be problematic.
The back to Eden theory is sound but his choice of medium is not and relies too heavily on fossil fuel energy to sustain. Grasses are the way to go in my opinion. The added benefit for grass clippings is you can in a pinch harvest them by hand with nothing but muscle power and would still be able to save your fossil fuels or bio fuels for a Winter tilling to control the bindweed. You could even turn the soil over in Winter by hand if it came to that but wood chips simply will not break down fast enough so once you have mulched with them tilling and turning over the ground is not feasible.
Like the "Eden" method weeds pull right up through the grass clippings root and all easily, water is retained in the soil and the clippings break down and amend the soil. Unlike the "Eden" method you can work, till or turn the soil over anytime you wish without harmful effects as the clippings break down faster and do not remove nitrogen at first. The disadvantage is that you are going to be moving alot of grass clippings and will more than likely need to recover each spot int he garden at least twice a season.
Honestly if it wasn't for the Morning Glory/Bindweed issue I would have went with wood chips myself but around here morning Glory is impossible to control with just mulch. I am not even 100% certain yet that the Winter till method works as well I hope because I have only tried it once.
Morning Glory SUCKS!!!
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!