Sunday, June 3, 2012

We Have Produced Food!!!! Woo Hoo!

This is the first year that Shawn and I have put forth serious effort to gardening.  The past few years have involved us starting off with some excited attempts only to give up when the weeds overwhelm us.  This year we heavily mulched the garden using the Back To Eden method.  We've added mass quantities of wood chips and grass clippings and now weed maintenance is actually do-able!

I'm excited to say that we're actually harvesting and using food that we're producing in our garden.  Today our lunch-time soup includes peas, carrots, and turnips from our own garden.  After supper tonight we're having a fruit salad that contains our own blueberries and blackberries.  Tomorrow night's supper will include beets and cauliflower that we've raised.  It's an awesome feeling to serve food to my family that was produced on our own land.  It really does make all the sweat, sunburn, and bug bites worth it!

Here's a view from the back corner of the garden.  Since we're still on the GAPS diet, none of that corn is for our family to eat.  All of that corn has been planted as winter chicken food.

Here are the arbors at the back of our garden.  Starting from the left there is an arbor of pickling cucumbers, a second arbor of pickling cucumbers that was planted a couple weeks later, and then the last three arbors include two different varieties of pole green beans.  We have watermelon plants growing in the middle of all the arbors so that "empty" space is utilized.

There's also more watermelon planted just to the right of the arbors in the back corner of the garden.  We're growing two different varieties of watermelon this year..a traditional red watermelon, but also one that's yellow inside.

We ended up with more tomato plants than we had planned for so Shawn put up this spur-of-the-moment fence for tomatoes to grow on next to the corn.  You can't see it because it's still too small, but on the other side of the tomato fence we actually have a row of cotton growing.  That's one of our experiments this year.

The front of the garden is where most of our tomatoes are growing.  The rows in front of the tomatoes that look empty actually have some small sunflowers growing in them.  We're planning on using the sunflowers as winter feed for our chickens and rabbits.  However, we're really having a battle with birds trying to eat our sunflowers.  We've already planted twice and each time only a fraction have reached a decent size because of the birds getting to them.  Behind the tomatoes you can see Shawn's tire potatoes still growing well.  So far, we're really pleased with the experiment of growing potatoes in tires.

Here you can see more of the near-empty rows of sunflowers.  To the left of that is our garlic that's starting to brown and then our onions that are growing along nicely.  Between the garlic/onion boxes and the arbors are where our pepper seedlings are planted.

Here is the other back-corner of the garden where we have cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, and turnips growing.  You can see a little glimpse of our blueberry bushes in the corner of the picture.  The raised beds in the back that look empty actually have brussels sprouts seeds planted in them.  The little raised bed in the very back corner has three eggplants growing in it.  You can also see our three compost piles in the back of the photo.  We have a big volunteer squash plant that has popped up there.  I'm anxious to see what exactly it's going to produce.

Here's the front of the garden.  Here we're growing four arbors of peas.  Under each of the arbors we have planted cantaloupe.  The two raised beds contain carrots with space left over for me to continually plant more every few weeks.  You can also see our blueberries better in this photo.

Here's our small patch of beets located at the back of the garden behind the rabbit shed.

Finally, here are our two arbors of squash at the front of the garden.  The first arbor with the larger squash is made up of volunteer plants that came up in our carrot raised bed.  We transplanted them here so I'm not really certain what they're going to produce.  The arbor with smaller plants contain yellow crookneck squash and some scallop squash.  We've placed the boards on the ground near the squash to make it easier to kill squash bugs that come around.

So, at this point in our 2012 garden, I am very pleased with the Back To Eden method.  It has taken a lot of time this year to get everything mulched, but that time investment is already paying off with fewer weeds.  Lord willing, next year ought to be even easier.

If you'd like to watch the Back To Eden film, you can view it for free here:


  1. Your gardens look beautiful! For all my talk about the Back To Eden film, I haven't yet tried it. In the fall, I plan to have loads of mulch delivered to our new property to prepare the garden for next spring.

    I'm assuming your corn is non-GMO. Where did you purchase your seeds and what variety is the corn? I love the idea of growing grains for the chickens. I planted chard and collards for my birds to supplement their summertime feed, but don't have the space yet to grow corn or grains on a large scale.

    I agree with you, there is something so satisfying in preparing food you have grown yourself!

  2. So good to hear from you Brenda!

    I wish I could say that it's non-GMO, but I can't. We purchased this seed a year or so ago from R.H. Shumway's and I bought so much of it that we're still using it. Here's the variety that we're currently using:

    I did do a search though and found a company that offers non-GMO corn. The "Henry Moore" variety specifically says that it's good for livestock.

    That website also lists the variety we're currently using (Reid's Yellow Dent) as non-GMO so I don't really know what we have. The package we have from R.H. Shumway's lists it as Reid's Yellow Dent but it sure doesn't claim to be non-GMO anywhere on the package.

  3. Just started this year with the Back-to-Eden "method" and had 20 yards of woodchips delivered. (Took 4 weeks of evening and weekend hauling up and down hills even--but sooo worth it!) It's all spread out on our 1/3 acre lot and it looks wonderful. We're even using it to kill off the remainng lawns... can hardly wait to be able to plant in those areas.
    I'm in NorCal (Folsom) and we've already had temps up to 100 already, and I am not having to water nearly as much as last year. Already noticed a drop in snails, too. I'm going to continue bringing in the wood chips about every 2-3 months.
    Our veggies are just now taking off--and I'm sure the chip/composting has a great deal to do with it. Even the fruit trees are benefitting (and producing better) .

  4. Janice, hello. My name is Leah and I love your garden! My mom and dad live with me and my father keeps a small garden in the back yard. It however keeps him too busy. It is a lot of work and the weeding is not possible for him most of the time. He is 81.

    The other day we all watched the Back to Eden video and I got soooo excited about starting to garden the way Paul was talking about. I have a friend that can drop off loads of mulch when we need it so I am looking forward to the fall garden to see how we can improve.

    Did you start your garden the way the folks in Pennsylvania did with the newspaper first? If you have any other tips or tricks to pass along, I would be appreciative! Thanks and happy gardening!

  5. Leah, our garden was already here when we purchased our property 2-1/2 years ago. Fortunately the previous homeowner already gardened organically. So, this year all we did was have Shawn till it up and then add wood chips to it. As Shawn has mowed the property he has collected the grass clippings and added them on top of the wood chips. The grass clippings are helping with weed control and I've read that they will help with any nitrogen deficiency that might occur when the wood chips are decomposing.

    We do still have to weed it but the quantity of weeds are NOWHERE near what they've been in previous years. I think that putting down newspaper first would even further help with weed control. If you have the time and the newspapers to spare then I believe that it would be a good idea to go ahead and do that step.

    I really pleased with the Back To Eden method. We're able to keep up with the weeds and we're watering much less than in previous years. As an added bonus, our garden now has a "neat and tidy" appearance. That means a lot to me. I'm a bit of a clean freak so going out to a jungle-like garden stresses me out!

    Best wishes to you!

  6. Karen B.,

    I'm so glad that you're having a great Back To Eden garden too!

    Our garden is currently 70 feet by 80 feet. We've actually had three dump-trucks of wood chips delivered! We thought that a garden of that size would be plenty of space to grow food for our family, but this year Shawn has already tilled out an additional spot of yard so we can try planting peanuts! If we hadn't utilized the Back To Eden method there's no way that we could've kept up with a 70x80 foot garden and then add more. For us, adding the wood chips has made gardening so much easier and more enjoyable.

  7. Janice, I just stopped by to read the comments and saw your reply to my questions about the corn. Thank you so much for your research. I checked out the website for the Henry Moore corn and discovered many other interesting varieties. Maybe there will be non-GMO corn in my future! Thanks.

  8. Hi, I came over from Back to Eden, checking out results from this new type of gardening. Looks really good. How tall are your arbors? What are they made out of? Mine grew out of control and have to stand on a stool to pick them. My method is too dangerous. Do you have an update on your garden?


    1. Louise, our arbors are made out of cattle panels. Shawn believes that each panel was 4 feet wide by 16 feet long. If you visit any farm supply store and ask for cattle panels, they ought to be able to fix you up.
      I guess I should go out and take more pictures of the garden now. However, right now we're in an in-between stage. The summer crops are dying off and the fall crops are still too small to really be noticeable. I can report that we were extraordinarily pleased with the garden's production this year.

  9. Sure miss your posts. How is Sam doing on the GAPS diet?