Bin Gardening

Bin Gardening

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Wood Chip Gardening

Several months ago, I watched a documentary film about a gardener named Paul Gautschi who has discovered an organic, sustainable method of gardening. He has been a gardener for over 55 years and is considered a master arborist by his community. He has raised food for his family of 7 children, and to give away to friends. He gives numerous tours of his gardens and orchards to both local and international visitors.

The film, Back to Eden, was co-directed and co-produced by Dana Richardson and Sarah A. Zentz. The method is basically growing fruits and vegetables in wood chips, and Paul has had impressive results. After watching this film, I was very interested to try this technique and I proceeded to watch every video I could find on YouTube of people who have had success growing in wood chips.

The first step was to call our local power company to request to be on a waiting list for free wood chip delivery when they would be in our immediate area doing tree removal work. We did so and waited about one month, all the while clearing a spot for the anticipated truckload delivery. Once the chips arrived and were dumped into a tall pile, I began spreading them around with a hoe and shovel until the pile was about 2 feet high.

The pile sat from fall until spring, decomposing until it was only about one foot high. I added a bag of organic garden soil  and fertilizer where I wanted to plant zucchini and melon seeds. The seeds were planted and watered and they germinated in about a week. I continued to keep the seedlings moist until roots were established and the plants had their second or "true" leaves. There have been almost no weeds, only an occasional sapling that is easily removed. Only minimal watering is required; I have watered the plants 2-3 times this season when we have had an extended period of no rain. We have harvested zucchini a few times and are currently waiting on the melons to mature. So far, this may be my favorite way to garden! 

Here is a slide show documenting our experience in creating a wood chip garden. Hope you enjoy! 

Blessings on your gardens,


Hügelkultur and Bin Gardens, part 2: The one-year follow-up

Over a year ago, I wrote about our Hügelkultur gardening experiment and am happy to report that we had a productive year with our project. My husband and I created the garden bed in May 2014 and we enjoyed tomatoes throughout the summer, followed by a harvest of garlic and onions that grew through the winter, and now (July 2015) carrots that were planted in early spring. The bed required very little water - only when seedlings or bulbs were first planted.

Tomato plants and marigolds in Hügelkultur bed
Several weeks later
Beginning of fall - cleared tomato plants out and planted garlic
Added onions to grow through the winter

Carrots growing from seed started in the spring

Garlic bulbs and cucumbers

Tomato and garlic harvest (above) from Hügelkultur bed

  Also, the deck garden with our homemade self-watering bins did well this past year. We grew  lettuce, herbs, and strawberries over the winter, and have added sweet peppers this summer.
Parsley growing throughout the winter in Georgia

Strawberries and herbs in self-watering bins 

Pepper plant growing in bin

This is the third year we have used these bins on our deck. I have added a bit of soil to each bin as needed, as well as slow-release organic fertilizer in early spring. So far, there has been no cracking and very little wear and tear on the containers (other than some color fading). Please click here for more info on making these self-watering containers.

Happy gardening to you!