My Back To Eden Garden Part 2

03 Jun 2014

My Back to Eden Garden

In my previous post entitled, My Back To Eden Garden, I explained how I built my Back To Eden Garden (BTEG)

I planted the following in it

From seed:

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Corn
  • Baby corn

Transplants also from seed:

  • Broccoli

From starts purchased from big box stores:

  • Tomatoes
  • Stevia
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkin

After I built my garden I let it sit for a week or so before planting. When I pulled back the wood chips I was delighted to see a lot of worms. I was sure this was a very good sign. The soil beneath the chips was nice and most even though I had not watered it for some time.

The first mistake I made was underestimating how much wood chips would move around after a rain. Using a hoe I peeled back the wood chips creating about a 5" wide trench with 8" to 10" tall wood chip walls. I then planted some lettuce seeds into the soil under the trench.

The rain would wash the chips into the trench where the lettuce seeds were and greatly hindered the germination of the seeds also the seedlings that did emerge were often damaged by the shifting chips. First lesson learned, when planting seeds remove most of the word chips from the area and replace them after the seedlings are a few inches tall.

During the season the plants never really grew. My lettuce never got above 3 inches tall. I planted about a dozen sunflowers, only one grew to maturity, two to about half size and the rest died. All my corn died, my peas only grew a few inches before dying. The largest carrot was a half inch long. Everything else had stunted growth and died. I would say that overall my BTEG was a failure.

Putting all that work into creating something that was supposed to be so wonderful then having such terrible results was very disheartening for me.

This year I decided that I needed to fix the problem so I bought a soil test kit and found out that the soil that I had purchased had practically no Nitrogen, Phosphorus, or Potassium (NPK) in it. No wonder why everything died.

My Final Test Results

Manure Tea Brewing

I posted my problem at Permies.com and got a lot of wonderful advice. I have access to rabbit, horse, and chicken manures so I brewed up a large batch of manure tea. I put about a half wheel barrow load of the three manures with a couple of cups of molasses, added a couple of air stones and let it bubble. After a few days of brewing I dumped about 5 gallons of tea per row once a week for about 4 weeks

I then let is sit for a week and retested it. In my original tests the water was practically clear, as you can see from the picture there was a significant improvement in the fertility of the soil.

The moral of the story: If you make a BTEG it is imperative that you start out with quality soil. Had I been smart I would have tested the soil before I purchased several truckloads of it.

In my next BTEG post I will share with you what I've planted so far and how things are progressing.

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