Incorporating ground cover to your garden may not sound like much, but has been the single greatest improvement I’ve made to my garden since starting. Paul Gautschi has been a gardener for over 55 years and currently lives on the Northern Peninula of Washington State. Like most of us, he put serious elbow grease into his orchard and acreage. But when he observed the uncultivated land around him flourishing without weeding, tilling or pesticides he asked “why”? The main difference, he noted, was simple ground protection.
- No tilling required- I used to till my hard, clay soil before planting as I had no other way to break it up. I feel like I’m writing an informercial here, but after the first season, I noted the ground was naturally more loamy, didn’t compact under my feet and allowed root systems to establish more easily in the ground. I saw only a rare earthworm with digging before. Now, with every scoop of soil, I see dozens of earthworms- a sign of health.
- Weeding has been reduced to a minimum- I still have weeds, of course. But I don’t have an overwhelming amount that an hour or two wouldn’t take care of (Keep in mind, my garden is over 2500 square feet!) Also, weeds are much easier to remove.
- Pesticides haven’t been necessary- Overall health of the plants has improved therefore so has their natural resistance to insects and disease. I’ve especially noticed how my fruit trees flourish with a ring of mulch at the base. This has been especially rewarding as organic fruit tree growing is “near impossible” according to some friends and family!
- Very inexpensive or free- I called my local power company and asked who trimmed trees back from power lines in my area. Through a good chunk of the year, tons of tree branches are mulched every week. When they are close to my home, they generously empty their dump-truck (about 5 1/2 pick up trucks worth!) by the garden. Every 2-3 years, I place another 2″ of mulch on the garden to keep it going.
You can stream Paul’s full Back to Eden video on his website.
Anecdotally, I wrote him a letter (you’ve seen one of those before, right?) as he does not use e-mail. He called me back after receiving my note and kindly answered all my questions- despite my acting like a crazed fan. I encourage you to do the same if you’re an enthusiast too!