Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)


As some of you know, this year I've been trying one bed using the "Back to Eden", no-dig, wood chip method, and one using a blend of organic gathered material from around the property, mixed with  conventional compost. I added the standard amounts of organic fertilizer and Epsom Salts to both beds to give the seeds a kickstart.

To be honest, although I had read about "Back to Eden" and seen many photos, a part of me believed that the leaf mould and gathered material would win hands-down.

How wrong I was!

From what I had gleaned, mostly skim-reading, because that's how I roll (I do dislike that phrase, it sounds phoney, so I use it very much in a silly, cheeky way), much of the praise for the wood chip method had been around the fact that the layer of chips holds in moisture and keeps plants moister for longer, extending the period of time between watering and thereby reducing the amount of water required, as well as reducing trauma to the plants from high heat on sunny days. There are other benefits too, but I was focusing on this point for now.

With this in mind, I wondered whether here on a rainforest island, my main priority should be to  conserve moisture or protect from high day-time temps?  It rains heavily almost every night during the summer, but it can reach into the mid to high 90f/30c during the day. Somehow, my expectation for the wood chip vs the organic leaf litter fell in favour of the latter, after all that's how our lush forests have grown for centuries, unaided by humans?

'Tis a good thing I am not a betting woman, for I would have surely lost my stake money.

It seems the wood chips have another weapon in their armoury - the ability to soak up excess water; like little sponges they wick away the water from the soil, allowing it to evaporate more effectively. So, after many weeks of unprecedented rain for the time of year, the veggie beds were waterlogged.

In the red corner, the wood chips did their thing, whilst in the blue corner, the organic matter has turned into soup! And within that quagmire, few of the seeds have germinated and those that had seem to be drowning or rotting.

So, there you have it. It's not scientific - a trial of one! But see for yourselves. I am always ready to admit when I'm wrong.....so now all I have to do is wait for the right phase of the moon and thin some of these seedlings and set them some place else.

If you're interested in learning more about the "Back to Eden" you can visit their website or Facebook page (links below). 

Now where can I find some more wood chips?.....

You can check my progress from virgin forest to home on the blog at


The "Back to Eden" style wood chip bed - 6 weeks after sowing

Tomatoes are now 5 - 6 inches/15cm high

Okra already about 12 inches/30cm high and every single one germinated

Eggplant/Aubergine, looking strong and healthy

The organic compost/leaf mould bed, looking very wet and a little sorry for itself

Chinese cabbage - whole row sown, less than half have germinated and barely an inch high

The Back to Eden Chinese Cabbage, sown at exactly the same time - now about 3 inches/8cm high with good germination

The leaf mould bed saturated with rain and run off from the rest of the garden



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