I started doing the BTE garden system this winter

hoping that it will result in a more successful garden experience this year (lol, since I’m usually in the negative, I can only go up!)

It takes longer for the wood chips to decompose than most people think, at a minimum, it takes about 5-6 months. We laid ours down in December, so i really should not have been planting in it until May ish, but I couldn’t wait 🙂

Paul (in the movie) lives up in Seattle where it rains a bazillion, so “eliminates the need for water” is probably not true for most of us, especially if you are like me and are starting with ****** soil. I would say that it is true that it greatly reduces the need for water, and the soil does stay moist (although the wood chips themselves stay dry…it’s the weirdest thing.

I did notice that within weeks the soil was much softer. Our back strip (if you go to my blog) we had to til-up, because we had taken out grass area. The front planter however, was compacted hard, can’t dig in it-dirt. I can now dig into it with my finger, and when I planted Kale transplants, the ground was very easy to work with in just a little while.

I did not water at all for the first few weeks–the plants survived, but I can’t say they thrived. I re-watched the film and saw he said you might have to water or fertilize the first little while, so I watered well and the transplants have been thriving ever since.

AND SO FAR NO WEEDS !! (Which is actually saying alot–my neighborhood is full of crab- and bermuda- grass!)

I am very pleased with the system so far. I am a very neglectful gardener but so far it is doing well. I am hoping to pull up my front yard in the next few weeks and put in a semi-raised bed system (I’m basically going to raise the whole front yard to be relatively level. My plan is to put fill dirt in for most of it, then put in 2-4 inches of compost, then put in wood chips on top of that. This front yard garden is going to be the primary source of juicing greens for us, so I need to make sure it gets a good start.

I can’t speak to going forward/results, but I am anticipating next fall before I put winter crops in, adding a smaller layer of compost and more wood chips.

I hope this helps :)

Anyhow, let me see if I can answer your questions as best I can.. For those not familiar a farmer went out in the woods to pray and ponder about how to grow better garden without chemicals , to sustain drought etc… as he saat under a tree nd was playing with the pineneedles, leaves, dead limbs etc he noticed how the woods just tend to care for themselves, he took the concept back to his own garden and has used it for the last 19 years

1. If I understand the video right you start out basically like I normally garden with some basic soil, compost etc, basically my lasagna gardening practice. Then you top dress it with wood mulch. Is that correct? This is correct, except there is not tilling involved, if you choose to start in a non garden area you lay the newspaper base then woodchips, in the film they show 2 examples (maybe 3) of folks who are just starting out.

2. As time goes on you add more layers of wood mulch and maybe compost but not much else? Exactly, as the mulch decomposes it turns to rich soil, hence no tilling nd the weeds pull right out if there are any to pull

3. This does away with the constant need to water, is this correct? absolutely correct, last year in the NC summer we watered maybe 4 times.. the moisture stays trapped in the mulch /soil and sustains the root system…

4. How long have you been doing this system? This will be our 3rd year

5. Oh do the wood chips need to be from green trees? We have hundreds of dead ones we’ve got to dispose of and we have a chipper—it’s a small slow one but…. They can be from any tree, the mulch we put on last year was from dead trees and was almost soil, this was wonderful! Our red clay mud is dark soil in that spot now!!

6. Because of adding the wood chips the garden won’t erode down like I am having the problem with? very true, we use to have that problem too, frustrating when you are having to shovel bags of soil! Now the grden doesn’t wash away or pile up on one end 🙂

7. Are there any good books you can recommend on this? I don’t know of any books, I’ll ask a friend of ours who introduced us to this method…

On a side note, the same friend that hooked us on this method just called last night from HI, he is there for 6 weeks working on this method for Dole and their organic products..we are to have dinner on the 21st when he gets back and I am excited to learn what he has to say.. He was one of the ones who spent time in the Bio Dome ( do you remember that from the 80’s), very interesting fellow, and he knows his stuff!