Back to Eden Film

How absolutely lovely it is to find a film that combines two of my very favorite things in the world: God, and gardening! If you haven’t spent the time to sit down and watch “Back to Eden” (free at, you don’t know what you are missing! Gardener Paul Gautschi shares how God has revealed Himself through His creation and His Word.

“The ground is a living organism. As all living organisms, God has designed and made it so it is always covered with something. It’s all about the covering!”
– Paul Gautschi

For about 20 years now, I’ve been a huge believer in sheet composting. Basically, rather than tilling the soil, which I find:

– destroys soil tilth (if there is any at all);

– kills earthworms; and

– kills your back to boot

the concept of sheet gardening involves covering any existing sod with several layers of (non-slick) newspaper, wetted down. Then you apply a nice layer (4″ or so if you can) of compost, and this can be fairly raw! Weed-free animal manure is great – if you can get it from the source, even better. Then layers of available materials… chopped leaves (run them up in your lawnmower instead of raking), peat if you have it and don’t mind using it… a thin layer of fresh (untreated) grass clippings… finished compost (either from your compost bin or the bagged stuff)… and finally a visually appealing layer on top.

So where the Back to Eden gardeners differ is primarily in their choice of top covering. They choose wood chips, and have plenty of gorgeous garden and example to prove why it works! I’d always heard conventional wisdom to say that wood chips took up too much nitrogen when used in a garden, but here’s the rub. That is not the case if they aren’t tilled in! These are on TOP – a nice deep covering (4-6″). They very slowly decompose into the soil, releasing nutrition as they go.

So after “mostly” using this type of garden for the past two decades, I have decided that wood chips are my new top covering of choice, trumping chopped leaves. I’m going to begin implementing them immediately on my various gardens (from every corner of the yard, to our church, to my community garden plots). Heavy mulching and lots of composting has always been very effective in my experience; it will be exciting to garden with a Biblical approach!

My gardens are a combination of several non-conventional styles: companion planting with square-foot gardening spacing (although I only rarely measure), lasagna raised beds with Back to Eden covering. I’ve got happy worms and lovely vegetables, herbs and flowers! And the best part is that it minimizes both weeding (bleck) and watering needs, while improving the soil itself. What a blessing!

No matter where you live, if you apply a covering to your garden, God will do the rest, and you will be blessed!” – Paul Gautschi


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