These past few years of having a vegetable garden has been like being in one of those “Hollywood Movie” relationships. We hate each other. Sometimes we are bad for each other. But we are inexplicably drawn to each other. Maybe it’s closer to a Hallmark script because I think we are going to end up in love by the end of this season. As I have explained before, the first year we lived on this property I got pregnant in the spring and was in the throws of morning sickness that lasted all day. My garden was consumed by the grass by July. The next year I had a newborn and decided to expand the garden at the end of March because the world was shutting down and we were all going to starve. Bad idea. The grass wasn’t even phased and simply reclaimed it. The one wise move we made was to put down black plastic in the worst parts (i.e. – the new parts) and kill anything that was green. Now it is January. And besides getting a proper start on developing my beds, I am taking a whole new approach.
In 2018, before we were even thinking about moving, I discovered the film Back To Eden that showcased Paul Gautschi’s garden in the Pacific Northwest. I was completely captivated and convinced that I too could have beautiful, black soiled beds that wouldn’t require an ounce of tilling or a moment of weed pulling. (Go ahead and start giggling, it gets better.) I also vowed that I would somehow manage to do it all for free. All I would have to do is throw down some cardboard and woodchips and the magic of Gugu Gautschi would fill my garden and all would be perfect. (Ha!) When we moved to our current home in 2018 I saved every box we used. Our neighbors happened to be cutting down their trees that spring and we were blessed with 5 dump trucks of wood chips. I diligently put down carboard and wood chips on top of freshly tilled grass in March. You know what happened next. What I have come to realize is that I didn’t have a full understanding of how to practice the Back to Eden method. And I had horrible timing – every time.
This year I am somewhat abandoning the Back to Eden method. Not completely, but mostly. I bought weed block fabric. It was on sale and I just can’t take fighting the wire grass any more. Please don’t judge me! Even if you did I really don’t care. You can come pull the grass out of my garden if its that important to you. Anyway. It’s not stopping there. I am also planting in rows. That’s right. I said it. Traditional rows like some sort of monocrop farmer. Wanna know why? Because I want to be able to use my tiller. You can take away my organic gardener badge now because I am throwing out all the staples. How can one call themselves an organic gardener unless their garden is no till, built up with compost developed from their own kitchen scrapes?
Don’t even get me started on compost. Anyway. This year I am going about gardening in a whole new way. (New to me.) I am getting an early start because for the first time in 3 years, I can. I have pulled back the mulch I laid last year and laid down weed block fabric where the walkways will be. I am adding manure from a local horse owner (and I don’t think the horses are fed organic food). Then the coup de grâce is that I am actually buying topsoil to hill up the garden beds. Again, nonorganic. Not even mushroom compost because that is expensive. There it is. I am using in organic materials and spending money willy-nilly to get this thing working. And I feel no shame. I didn’t get a single beefsteak tomato out of my garden last year and I want a tomato sandwich.