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May 27, 2020
How did you feel when you first started seeing the empty shelves at the supermarkets? When you walked by shoppers filling their carts with toilet paper and canned food? When you, too, started getting double what you would normally purchase?
For me it was surreal and unsettling. It made me realize how important it is to be personally connected with our food and with our supplies. It turned the platitude of “grow your own food” into a practical necessity.
Many others across the nation have undoubtedly felt the same way as me as I began to see social media posts talking about “Victory Gardens,” Google search suggestions for Gardening, and even major seed suppliers out of stock way early in the season!
I’ve always appreciated the idea of gardening but never felt it was for me. Don’t you need to have a “Green thumb” to grow plants? Or at the very least, don’t you need a long list of supplies and tools to get started? Initial investments?
Well, perhaps not! According to Paul Gautschi, a vegetable gardener from Sequim, WA, all you need is water, mulch, and a rake. On a trip with my dear friends Zach & Hailey Abbey from Ananda Farms, we had the pleasure of meeting Paul, who has become quite well-known as the subject of the documentary film Back to Eden, and we were completely blown away by him and his garden.
How shall I describe him? A radiant, joyful man leaning on his rake. He told us that one day he had an epiphany while walking in the woods. Looking around him, he saw how all of the trees and underbrush grew tall and flourished without all of the measures that the conventional farmer takes to grow his crops. No irrigation, no soil amendments, no tilling, no tractors, no chemicals.
Mystified, he looked down and all around him were leaves in various states of decomposition. And underneath? Dark, black, rich soil filled with so much life. He made the connection right then and there: mulch is vital to the growing of food and is Nature’s way of creating a forest.
The mulch protected the soil from erosion, kept the moisture in (greatly reducing the need for rainfall) and kept the soil soft. Perfect for planting!
The vegetables in his garden were the stuff of legends. Have you ever seen a celery stalk so moist that it’s literally dripping with water? The soil was so thick and deep that apples could drop from the trees in his orchard without bruising! And the magical thing: he barely even watered his garden and it wasn’t because he lived in a very rainy climate. Sequim is in a rainshadow caused by the Olympic Mountains and gets only 23 inches of rain, on average, per year. The US average is 38 inches of rain per year!
If you’re interested in taking up gardening during these uncertain times, I would encourage you to watch Paul’s documentary Back to Eden, contact a local tree company to see if they could deliver wood chip mulch to your property (they do it for free usually!)
Focus on building the soil, first. Lay down cardboard or burlap coffee bags (you can get these from a local coffee roaster if you have one, also for free!) to kill the weeds. Then cover with dirt and some compost, and then finish with your mulch. You can even use prunings from trees, grass clippings etc.
Check out the links below for NEXT STEPS and more helpful resources:
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