Saturday, November 24, 2012

Back to Eden Film

I am sure most readers here also saw the link from Rawles' place to the "Back to Eden" film. I watched it tonight and was very impressed. If you haven't checked it out yet I would recommend grabbing a beverage and watching the whole thing.

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!!!


18 comments:

  1. Hay, the bailed variety, works well too. I understand in certain parts of the country due to drought and other reasons, hay has become scare and expensive. But, if its available, hay makes a great mulch.

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    1. Stephen - I have used hay and straw. They work well but the usual baling time means they usually contain a large amount of weed seed. One reason I like grass clippings is that being wet it packs down heavier blocking the sunlight and keeping weeds from sprouting and usually contains no seed itself. Otherwise using hay is about the same as grass so yes it is good.

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  2. If its available to you, Pine straw also makes a good mulch.

    Senior and I will check the movie out a bit later

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    1. JuGM - What is Pine Straw pray tell?

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    2. Here in the South we have several variates of soft wood Pines. Workers gather the brown pine straw and bail it for city folk to dress their flower beds. Its a bitch to place as it tends to 'stick' your hands, not unlike dull needles, a painful process. The cost is awful. Deeply acidic.

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  3. Being a newbie to the Ozarks, I mistakenly kept a "very pretty blue vine flower" on my garden fence one year. And for the past three years, I've been trying to eradicate that f'n flower from my gardens, without much luck!!
    I watched that Eden film several months ago. I like the idea, but like you mentioned, wood chips are not something that will be easily available if things go south. We even have a wood chipper attachment for the back of the tractor, but it is VERY labor and fuel intense and I was pretty disappointed in how much work it took to just get a small pile of chips. The small pathways to the goat barn is renewed with homemade chips every year and the soil underneath IS wonderful, but unless we get somebody to haul us some FREE wood chips, having a huge area spread with chips just isn't going to happen here.

    As for using hay, I will NEVER do that again! Did it one year to cover up my blueberry beds for the winter and I was pulling up grass weeds the entire growing season. I need to cover up the strawberry beds like right now, so will be using what we have in abundance right now....leaves.

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    1. CR - Ya depending on the time and place where the hay was cut it can bring on a nightmare of weeds.

      Precisely my point with the wood chips for mulch. I use wood chips. I won't deny it but not for the garden. I also think the film didn't factor in how much faster wood chops would decompose in a wetter environment. My experience is depending on the type of wood I sometimes do not even get a full year in Missouri rain before the chips are broken down.

      About six years ago or so I did the same thing as you. Let a Morning Glory patch keep growing. God how I hate that plant.

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  4. PP, I haven't watched the Eden film,so I don't know where in WA state it takes place, but I can tell you, here in eastern WA state (I'm right on the WA/ID border,morning glory is a huge problem. The wheat farmers fight it continuely. I have it in my garden and I fight it, and you're right, mulch will NOT kill it. I hate morning glory!!!

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    1. Miss V - I got the impression that his spread was very close to the coast not sure why.

      I have read if you take a vine of it and actually submerse it into a vat of weed killer and leave it there to soak the liquid up for a while it will kill the entire plant. I have never tried it.

      I did have a much reduced amount if it the year I attempted the Winter tilling trick. Really it just took the morning glory longer to get really bad. I know if you keep mowing an area it is in it will eventually die off. Otherwise it is impossible to get all the roots. They go too deep and spread everywhere.

      I hate Morning Glory.

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  5. Morning Glory is the best reason to keep sheep. Don't you hold in awe the wretched Portogee that got the stuff started in the West just so his sheep could eat in the hot dry summers.

    I have watched the film several times and like the program. But it is similar to Ruth Stout's no till gardening ideas. Those who don't like the wood chips, take a look at Ruth's program. I have several of her books and most are likely at your library.

    Most folks who use the wood chips simply get them from the power-line right of way folks who maintain the needed clearance from hot wires. Usually delivered free, but not always. Use what you can get cheap.

    Winston

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    1. Winston - The Sheep will eat it that's for sure but they don't get the roots and it eventually spreads to some area the sheep can't get it. I use sheep often these days for removing brush and clearing areas and they can have an area bare earth and within two days of being moved the morning glory is already coming up. First plant to do so. I hate the stuff lol.

      I am not knocking the use of wood chips. I use em myself although I had a power line crew leave some here they soon moved to areas where coming to the Small-Hold was not on their way. I now have to go get my own free stuff and I love it but in a grid down situation the wood chips are not sustainable in my opinion anyway. Grass clippings now could be harvested anytime and by hand if you had to. I sometimes still use an old push rotary mower just to see if it can be done. Labor intensive but doable.

      Thanks for commenting!!!


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  6. oh man...i guess i am in for it now! i actually planted morning glories at our last house and here too - i love those beautiful vines. but they are nowhere near our gardening area.

    Winston is right about Ruth Stout - i love her methods - AND she gardened naked!!!! love that woman!

    and lastly - i would have to agree with all of your points in regards to the movie. i have been looking more into forest/survival gardening as we have lots of land and lots of forest - next spring i am going out with old seeds and tossing them everywhere to see what takes and to continue gathering seeds. good post buddy and sorry i hadn't been by to say happy thanksgiving!

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber - Just wait morning glory spreads everywhere so you will get it in the garden eventually.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you as well and Jamby too !!!!

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  7. Here in West TX our city takes in limbs from the community and bucket grinds them. Free to those that come and get the chips.

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    1. Anon - That is how I get my wood chips here. I run into town. Problem is as things decline that will eventually stop. If it stops getting them myself is not sustainable.

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  8. Never had a problem with morning glory, but here is a (pre-apocalypse) method that I have heard works really well on invasive vines, including morning glorys:

    Fill a small container with roundup. Cut a small hole or slit in the top and stick one of the vines in the container (through the hole in the top). Place the container in an area where it won't get knocked over or disturbed. Watch and wait for the plant to die. You may need to do this several times to kill it all. The idea is to let the plant soak up lots and lots of roundup (far more than what it would soak up from the leaves.) It is VERY important that the container of RU be in a safe spot where kids and animals won't get into it or knock it over.

    Apparently it kills huge batches of otherwise intractible growths at a time.

    Posion ivey was my bane for years. I wish I had known of this method.

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    1. Russ - That method does in fact work. Eventually. I have done it and it takes a long time. Bottom line the stuff spreads on it's own faster than that method can actually kill it.

      Tilling helps Morning Glory spread but I have noticed if I keep at it long enough tilling will eventually kill it in an area as well. Basically you run the plant out of stored energy but it takes months to kill it this way and if you go a week or so without tilling you almost have to start over again.

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    2. Sort of like Kudzu. You can see it growing. But at least Kudzu is edible.

      I suppose you would have to use the method at multiple points to try and keep it from outrunning the poison.

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