Growing a Back To Eden Garden with Wood Chips

Alright this is John Kohler with
with another exciting episode for you here once again in South Florida, and man, I’ve
got a cool episode today. Because I’m going to show you guys what is possible in just
a standard residential lot, how you guys can grow some food, alright?
We’re here in suburbia and as you can see, everybody’s got their little houses here,
and their lawns, and I believe this is a waste of space because simply the lawns, unless
you’ve got kids and the kids actually play on the lawns, they’re a lot of maintenance,
you got to mow them, you’ve got to do all kinds of stuff and they don’t really provide
you any value to your property. Whereas, you know, each of us eat three meals every day!
And a much better use of space, instead of growing a lawn, is to grow things that you
can eat so that you can spend less money at the grocery store, right? And I think it’s
sad that most Americans simply choose not to grow their food and I believe this is for
a very important reason; it’s because we’ve been taught to live in the system—the system
of being enslaved to go to the grocery store, or the fast food joint, or the restaurant
to buy our food when really we need to take our own power back to grow our own food.
I mean, we’re taught reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, all these things, (I don’t
know how useful history is to me, these days), but we’re not taught how to grow our own
food and to become independent! And that’s why I make all these videos for you guys—if
you guys haven’t watched before, be sure you check out our past episodes, we’re over
1100 episodes now, to teach you guys how to grow your own food at home. And I’m glad
I have yet just another example of how you can do it in just this standard residential
house…even if you don’t have a lot of space.
So we’re going to go over to my friend Paul’s place just down the street here and show you
guys what he’s choosing to do in his yard instead of just simply grow grass. So this
is my friend Paul’s house right here. As you guys can see, he’s got the lawn, and
he’d recently purchased this house, I don’t know, a year ago or something like that, and
he’s slowly been converting and growing food in the front yard. So he doesn’t have
any vegetables in the front yard, but what he does have are the fruit trees. You can
see he’s got a bunch of coconut palms, because in general he knows that people aren’t going
to steal your coconuts, (unless his name is John Kohler, but I’ll knock first), but
he also has things like star fruit, and chicozapote in there and also on the other side of the
yard he’s actually getting dumped a lot of resources to build his fertility, including
manure, as well as wood chips and shavings back there.
So this is what he’s doing in his front yard. Now fortunately this area does not have
an HOA or a Home Owner’s Association. So if you guys are looking to buy a house or
you’re currently renting and you’re going to be looking to buy a house, trust me; there
are reasons to get an HOA, there are reasons to not get an HOA. And if you’re a gardener
and you want to grow your food, that’s a big reason not to get an HOA. I think most
HOAs are a pain in the butt, and buy a house that doesn’t have an HOA. Also, if you’re
going to be buying a new house, get one with a large lot. So a smaller house, which his
is just a two bedroom, one bath, but it has a nice large lot. Especially the backyard.
And he’s choosing to grow most of the food actually in the back yard instead of the front
yard and I think that’s a wise decision, because passersby might steal your food, might
mess with your food, take your food, and so he’s just growing a few things in the front.
So anyways, what I want to do next is actually show you guys the pile that he’s getting
for free to build his garden, and then we’re going to head into the backyard for the grand
finale and show you what he’s really growing in the backyard—it’s a lot of stuff!
I’m glad you guys can see in Paul’s yard; he’s got this big dump load of manure mixed
with wood shavings and basically he got this for free because places that got animals and
create manure, to them it’s just shit and they want to get rid of it. So Paul’s gotten
a lot of that stuff to actually build and enrich his soil here. And the soil here in
South Florida, if you guys don’t know, is like sand. So you need all the organic matter
you guys could get. Now the question arises: is manure the best
thing to use? I know if you ask somebody off the street that don’t know anything about
gardening, “how do you add nutrients to the garden?” I bet 9 out of 10 that haven’t
done this before will say manure. Because that’s what traditionally is thought of
as how to bring fertility to an organic garden. I’m going to encourage you guys to think
beyond manure. Manure is a waste product from the animal industry that you need to use,
and I don’t know how these animals were fed up there, were fed GMO corn or soil, or
if they were fed antibiotics, and animals are biologic accumulators. So that means that
they are getting toxins and heavy metals in the food that they’re eating and that’s
going to end up in the manure, which then you’re adding to your soil. If they’ve
eaten grain, or hay, or things that have been sprayed with pesticides, or more importantly,
herbicides, that may go through the cow unprocessed and be active at the time it comes out. So
then the manure you’re getting, you spread in your garden could kill your garden and
this has happened before! So that’s why I’m pretty cautious against using animal
manures unless you know the source. If it’s your animals, great! But most often times,
the quality of manure may not be that good. And in my opinion, manure is not the ultimate
fertilizer anyways, right? It’s not the ultimate fertilizer, and why would I say that?
Well, think about it; to make manure, the cow eats something, it takes out what the
cow needs, all the nutrients, the protein, and all this stuff, and then it poops out
what it didn’t need. So you’re getting the waste product. I would rather use grass,
leaves, plant clipping, food scraps to make and add nutrition to my yard without having
the cow take out what it needs, because now you’re getting something less nutritious.
In addition, something else that I’d rather use are the wood chips, which I’ll be talking
about in a little bit. So, he’s got a lot of manure here and this is what he’s using.
And hey, I want to support any way that people can grow food; if free manure allows you to
grow food when you otherwise wouldn’t be able, and you’ve got limited resources,
do it! But I want to let you guys know that, in my opinion there are some better resources
that you guys can use. Luckily, this manure looks pretty good because it’s actually
been mixed with the wood chips, which adds the carbon source, and it’s been sitting
around and hanging out awhile, so it’s basically been composted a little bit, maybe not fully
composted, and I think that’s good because if you do get manure, you want to get composted
manure, top and foremost because it won’t stink. So I’m glad that this stuff doesn’t
stink. And over in this area he’s got a nice big mulberry tree and he’s going to
plant a tree over here, once he gets this big pile of shit out his yard.
Alright so now I’m going to go ahead and head into the back yard. And if you guys have
a backyard, this is why I would encourage you guys, more so than your front yard, to
grow food if you get good sun in your backyard. Overall I like backyards because it’s more
private, it’s easier accessible in general to your kitchen which is usually out the back
door, so you can access your food easier, and people aren’t going to be stealing your
food. So anyway, let’s go on ahead into the backyard and show you guys what he’s
got going on. So you can see once we get into the backyard
you can see what he’s got. He’s got a lot of lawn because he hasn’t removed that
yet, but I’ve consulted with him on what he should do in my opinion. And I’ll tell
you guys what I would do if this were my place. But he’s planted basically fruit trees all
around the perimeter of the lawn near the fence, probably about maybe three feet away
from the fence. And he’s spaced them out, probably about every six feet or so in between
these dug nice large holes, and then filled them with compost, enriched soil, and whatnot.
And he’s basically got this around the border of his whole property. So he’s got fruit
trees all the way around. He’s got a variety of fruit trees. And then in addition, in the
middle here, he’s got a nice big raised bed. He’s doing it the “Back to Eden”
gardening style and he’s got a nice bed over here, with further of the manure composts
and some plants growing. So what Paul has done is he’s planted some
of his favorite fruit trees all around the perimeter of his yard. And he actually has
one vegetable tree right there which I’ll go over in a second because that’s actually
quite important. So Paul really likes and buys a lot of lemon, so he’s planted things
like the Myer lemons here, he also has some other citrus including mandarin and oranges
and whatnot. He also has some avocados which I’m going to talk about in a little bit
because he loves avocados. Aside from just the fruit trees, a lot of the area is not
yet developed, but he is growing things up the fence. The fence is one valuable part
of your lot, of your real estate that you have to grow on, and I would encourage you
guys to use your fence line to grow things up vertically because you can grow a lot of
food on a fence line. Some of it is actually quite delicious. What he’s growing on the
fence line are mainly two things: the passion fruits, and he’s got these guys, the bitter
melons. So I want to show you guys more about the bitter melons and how they can be good
to grow because they can actually fill in, they look really nice, and also they can provide
a really delicious fruit to eat. So now we’re at his fence line. I want to
show you guys he’s got a fence here, and he’s got the bitter melon vine growing up.
I kind of like the smell of the bitter melon, it kind of has a cool unique smell to the
vines and I want to show you guys the fruit, I’ve got one down here. I want to show you
guys, this is the fruit it makes. In some cultures, the bitter melons are eaten when
they’re green and cooked and eaten. But I like to wait until they’re fully ripe,
and this one’s actually fully ripe right here. You can know because it starts to crack
open and break open. You can see it already started to spring a leak right there. And
we’re just going to go ahead and break this open the rest of the way, and let me show
you guys what’s inside there. So what’s inside there are like these little red seeds
with some fruit pulp around it, so I’m just going to go ahead and eat the seeds. Now I’m
scraping off the fruit pulp with my teeth, and then spit the seeds out to grow more bitter
melon. I like these seeds because they are actually very high in antioxidants. They have
a really neutral flavor; they’re not that sweet. You can see what happens, these things
are hanging. They actually open up on the plant so that the seeds can drop out and then
regrow the next season. The bitter melon is also used in Chinese medicine. Really good
plant to grow and it’s a great use to grow up a fence because it will actually fill in
really nice and here in the tropics, it will grow year round.
So here’s the next tree that Paul’s growing, and it’s not a fruit tree at all. I mean,
it kind of is, in a way, but this is known as the Moringa tree, and if Paul were telling
you he’d say it was “Maranga”. But it’s Moringa, and this tree all the leaves on this
tree are like a vegetable. You can eat this just like you would kale and it’s actually
more nutritious than kale. A little bit stronger tasting than kale. And this tree will also
produce flowers that are edible as well as the seed pods also known as the drumsticks
that are eaten in their immature state. When they get more mature, you can actually just
harvest them and save the seeds, which actually are also edible, and have been used to purify
water. So this is yet another one you are going to want to definitely grow in South
Florida, if you have some real estate to grow some trees.
Alright so generally rain, sleet or snow will not keep me from making a video, I’d just
be filming in the rain but the problem is the camera is getting too wet. And I don’t
want the camera to fry, so then I couldn’t make any more videos this whole trip. So actually
I came into this patio area that’s screened in so its protection from the rain overhead.
We’ve got the screen so the bugs can’t get in, so that’s really nice. But I could
show you the rest of the yard from here, so that’s really cool. If I had this screened
in area, I would use this area. Especially the parts that get more sun because I know
that some areas get more sun than others, to grow container plants inside that’s even
a little bit more protected from the elements outside. I encourage you guys to use all the
space you have to grow food, whether that’s sprouts and microgreens or whether that’s
potted container plants that might not like full sun like he has outside. Maybe you have
some lettuces, that will do good in warmer climates that won’t get direct sun. So they
don’t bolt as quickly, or like things like arugula in self-watering containers. Like
the Growums, or the Earth Box, or the City Pickers, self-contained planters. So yeah,
use all the space you guys have. You can also get set up and do cuttings and grow your nursery
seedlings in here, all kinds of stuff. So he has one amazing property here that he’s
started to develop and grow on, and I’m glad I’m here to share some of my ideas
with him on how he can even improve this and make it better.
So as you guys can see, he’s got fruit trees every six feet, he’s got a dragon fruit
cactus, he’s got mango trees, he’s got the sapodilla, he’s also got the mamey sapote
over there, he’s got a fig over here, (let’s go ahead and turn this more), and he’s got
a mango, papaya, passion fruits, oh he’s got soursops, all kinds of cool stuff happening.
He basically chose a fruit tree that he likes the most to eat, right…he’s got a jack
fruit over there. That’s what I would encourage you guys to do—if you don’t know what
fruit trees to plant, check my past episode, I just had a past episode at Excalibur Fruit
Tree Nursery with the top ten fruit trees or fruiting crops that I would plant if I
lived here in South Florida. With the year around growing climate, it’s amazing and
I love South Florida for the weather and for the trees that can be grown. And I believe
that everybody that lives in South Florida should grow some edible shrubs and trees,
right?! So what I want to get into next is actually
just the massive large raised bed garden Paul has right here. Let me see if I can get a
close up to show you guys better while still remaining out of the rain. So over in this
area Paul has a big, I don’t know, like, 28’x 20’ raised bed garden. Now this is
a raised bed garden without any sides, so he’s basically just mounded up the soil
on top of newspaper which is on top of the grass. Then he’s planted all the different
crops in there—like the collard greens, he’s got some beets, he’s got some lettuce,
he’s got some eggplant, all kinds of different stuff. It looks like to me that the collard
greens are doing the best. Now this is done in a “back to Eden” style
of garden, growing 100% in the wood shavings and manure that he’s gotten. And so far
so good! To me some things look like they’re growing better than others. Of course, as
I’ve mentioned, the collard greens are growing really really well. It’s going to be fun
to see what exactly happens. Now if this was my backyard, I personally probably wouldn’t
enclose such a large area to have one big large bed. I would have multiple smaller beds
because the thing for me is, especially when it’s raining this hard, I don’t want to
be stepping in shit and getting all muddy and this stuff, right? So what I would do
is make 4’ wide beds, and just have them run the length and then in between have like
minimum a 1’ walkway, maybe I’d like to have 2’ would be a little bit nicer, and
have a walkway in between because this way you don’t have to step on your soil. Because
another thing that he’s doing is that he’s not tilling the soil here, which is really
good. Now I’m a bit concerned because I’ve seen places that have wood chip things, and
then he’ll put down like five layers of cardboard with some of this grass, which is
pervasive; it’s actually going to come up and come through which is not going to be
a good thing. So yeah, it’s going to be interesting to see how that all works for
him in the raised bed garden. He also has another garden against the side
here where he’s done pretty much a similar thing and just planted a lot of crops. And
this still gets some good sun, basically using concrete blocks as the edging. Besides just
to make individual beds I would also put sides on the bed to contain the soil so it doesn’t
actually run over, whether that’s some concrete blocks or some wood, some plastic lumber,
something to hold the soil up so it doesn’t keep eroding away. And another thing I would
do instead of how he just basically covered the space with newspapers and he just put
down the compost on top, which is good. I would want to smother out all the grass before
I even started building on it. So I’m going to go ahead and give you guys
another shot of the yard with basically his fruit trees on the other side of the yard,
and explain to you guys why he arranged some of the fruit trees the way he did. Alright,
so as you can see this is the other side of his yard where he’s got fruit trees once
again, planted every 6’ and he’s got a variety of other fruit trees planted. Basically,
one thing you want to take into consideration when planting your garden is where does the
sun come from? Where is the sunrise and where does the sun set at so you guys can maximize
the benefit of your yard and the sun you get free and clear each and every day. So on this
side of the yard he was smart because the sun rises on this side. He planted the shorter
fruit trees that don’t get as tall. Then on the other side of the yard, the side that
I was showing you guys originally, that’s where he planted his trees that are going
to get a lot taller so they aren’t going to shade out his vegetable gardening that’s
being done in the middle. But he intends to keep the trees a little bit shorter. So one
way you can do this is to get dwarf trees when you purchase them. So actually the coconut
trees, he purchased were in fact dwarf trees. This also makes harvesting them easier, when
they’re not super tall. So I do recommend dwarf coconut palms as well as some other
dwarf trees, if the situation is right. Some dwarfs can produce a good quantity, and others
may not produce a good quantity of fruit. And it depends on many factors aside from
it being just dwarf. That’s one consideration you may want to take in, before purchasing
a fruit tree. Now, the other thing I wanted to talk about
really quick (because I can’t really go out there because it’s still raining pretty
hard and I don’t want to get the camera too wet), is I want to talk about the avocado.
Now he has four different avocado trees on his property. If you just go to your local
nursery and just buy avocado, you might have a limited selection. It might just be like,
“this is an avocado tree” and it might say the variety. But he’s actually gone
through the trouble and the research to find out four particular, unique varieties, or
cultivars, of avocado that fruit in different seasons of the year because a lot of avocado
will fruit in this season of the year. If you get one tree or even three trees of the
same type, you’re going to have a lot of fruit one time during the year. What about
all the other months? Paul likes to eat avocados regularly, so he has avocados that will produce
in the summer, he has avocados that will produce in the winter, he has an avocado that will
produce in the fall, and he has an avocado that will produce in the spring. So basically,
every season of the year he’s going to be good on avocados. This is another factor you
will want to take into consideration when buying your fruit trees. If you want to eat
off of your property year round, don’t just get all mango trees that fruit in the summertime.
You’re going to want to ensure you get some fruit trees that you can also harvest during
the winter when most fruit trees are actually not in season, right? So good fruit trees
for this season would be the black sapote, papaya, and bananas would also be good. Paul
has papaya and bananas as well. But really try and focus on the winter months when things
are a bit cooler and there’s also not much else in. Also, citrus—another good thing
to plant for this type of year. It stopped raining a little bit so I thought
I’d come back out here to show you more things that Paul’s doing in his yard that
I think is really cool that you guys should know about. One of the things, he basically
has a clothes drying rack as you can see the rack here that was not being used, so he decided
to use it instead as a trellis to grow the passion fruit up into. See he’s growing
the passion fruit, and it’s basically taken over the top and I guess it is getting bit
heavy so it’s weighting down the string on there. He probably just needs to erect
it and reinforce it, maybe even put some wire up there so it could grow on top. Then maybe
next time I come out and visit Paul, there will be all these passion fruits hanging!
If you do grow the passion fruits, I want to encourage you to grow different varieties
of passion fruit. Paul is growing three, maybe four different varieties of passion fruit,
including the large passion fruits, the yellow, the purple passion fruit. I want to encourage
you guys to seek out and find the Jamaican lilikoi, or Jamaican passion fruit, also the
orange one—it’s a little bit fuzzy and orange—that is the sweetest tasting passion
fruit that you will find. It is definitely one of my favorite plants.
Now let’s go over to another area of the yard to show you guys what Paul’s doing.
So another thing Paul is doing, aside from getting the free manure, is Paul is making
his own compost. I want to encourage you guys to make your own compost too, because compost
happens and this is how you are going to enrich and bring fertility to your soil—literally
for free or cheap just by using food scraps. You have leaves that have dried up, neighbors’
leaves when they put them out to take them away, any kind of organic matter you can use
including…like, I shred up brown paper bags and put those in my compost to add fertility
to my soil. I think everybody out there should be composting.
Now I want to show you how Paul is irrigating all his fruit trees. It is simply by a hose
bib timer. He has his regular hose right here that he can water his plants and his trees
with, but he also set up just an inexpensive timer with this hose here to water all his
fruit trees. I want to encourage you guys to set up an irrigation system, especially
if you are busy like Paul—you travel, you have a family and all this stuff—you don’t
have to come out here and water every day. Especially in hot, dry climates this can be
imperative when it doesn’t rain a lot. I’m sitting here in the rain, but it’s good
that Paul has this timer set up so that anywhere he is in the world, his trees are going to
get watered and they’re going to be growing without his input. I know some of you guys
might be scared, “I don’t know how to do the irrigation!” Irrigation is super
simple, super easy. You’re going to want to check my other videos on irrigation; I
have many videos that break it down and show how easy it is to get it going. The worst
thing with irrigation if you don’t do it right, is you could turn it off and stop the
leak. If it’s working, then it’s going to work great for you. If you have a leak,
that’s alright…figure out why it’s leaking and then fix it! The tubing here, there’s
no soldering, you just cut the tube and fit it into these pressed in fittings, put a couple
of drip meters in you’re done! It’s super simple, super easy, so I’m going to encourage
you guys to go out and put irrigation in, if you thing that’s stopping you. I want
you guys to have no reasons for not putting in a garden because there are none. It is
really easy. I know a lot of you guys have never gardened or grew anything before in
your life, but you can do it! You can do it just like you had to learn how to walk, just
like you had to learn how to speak and understand English, you can learn how to garden, too.
It’s just because we’re not taught these things like in school, we might be afraid
of them or have a fear about it that we’re going to mess up. If you mess up that’s
alright, you learn something new! Learn from your mistakes and do it differently the next
time to create success in your life. And that’s simply what I’ve done over all my years
as a gardener and what I’d like to encourage and share with you guys as well.
Alright so now I’m out at Paul’s large raised bed here in the back yard. What we’re
looking at here are the collard greens. It looks like they’re growing amazingly, and
if you live in South Florida that is one thing you definitely have to plant. He’s got a
lot of these planted. Over at the end he also has some lettuce, I don’t know if you guys
can see it, but it’s already bolting. So it will probably be too hot here for lettuces
to grow here, but the collard greens, they love the weather. Georgia southern collards,
top pick for the south and South Florida as well.
What I want to share with you now is what I would do if this were my yard—how to develop
it further, what to do differently, how to change things, even make it better than the
result that he’s getting. All of his fruit trees, he had some challenges with some, but
they all look fairly healthy and they’re growing. They are juveniles right now, right?
So they just need to grow and get bigger. This is what I would do, ok? So number one
thing, I would ensure that my fruit trees have proper nutrition aside from just the
manure that people put down, I would be sure to put things down like the rock dust or the
tract minerals. Also some things such as good quality worm castings, also spray the soil
as well as the leaves with a good quality compost tea such as the Boogie Brew Compost
Tea because we really want to get that biology action going because the biology converts
the nutrients that in the soil in organic matter for the trees and for the roots. Another
thing I’d probably put or inoculate if it wasn’t done already, hopefully it was because
it’s always better to do at planting, is inoculate with the fungi or the mycorrhiza.
That’s really important for the fruit trees. This will encourage them to grow faster, and
when your fruit trees grow faster they’re healthier. And guess what…they’re going
to produce earlier for you and they’re going to produce more abundant crops for you guys
to eat. In addition, I would also use the same amendments for the garden, spray the
ground down with a compost tea, add the rock dust just by basically pulling back on the
side and just kind of adding it on top if it wasn’t already added to the soil. Another
thing I would do to add trace minerals to the garden is I would do weekly foliar feedings
of things like the Ocean Solution Trace Minerals to get my plants trace minerals on top of
the leaves and also irrigated into the ground as well for the root zone. That’s probably
the thing I would do the most to add further fertility besides just manure because I think
that while we can’t live on food alone, I don’t believe that our plants will live
optimally on manure alone. It’s actually raining a bit more now, so I’m going to
go inside and finish this video for you guys. Alright, now I’m out of the rain and I wanted
to go ahead and share with you what else I would do in Paul’s yard if this were my
yard, right? And because I’ve traveled extensively to a lot of different farms and gardens, to
see what people have done, know what I’ve done, know what works, I’m going to make
some recommendations for Paul or for other people that are in this situation, right?
One of the things that Paul did mention to me is that, he was like, “John, mowing my
garden is a pain in the ass. The grass grows really good, but mowing it is a pain in the
butt.” And he doesn’t want to hire a mower because he’s too cheap like me to do that,
so he mows it all the time. And he really wants to get away from the grass. I believe
that in an orchard setting that grass is probably one of the worst things you can do because
the grass is soaking up nutrients and you are not using your space effectively, in my
opinion, based on places I’ve visited and places I’ve seen, and what I believe. A
better thing to do would just to basically smother out the grass and then cardboard sheet
mulch with a bunch of cardboard and then plaster on the wood chips, inoculate the wood chips
with rock dust, and mycelium spores, King Stropharia and basically just let them go
to town. So what you could do in this whole yard instead of just in the small composters
I showed you, is that you could create your own compost on a massive large scale! Just
by having wood chips on your ground covering everything; by putting a layer of wood chips
8” deep over the whole yard, now all the wood chips everywhere are degrading slowly
over time. Come back in about 2 years you’re going to dig up the wood chips that you had
planted maybe in this environment because it rains so much and it’s humid and it’s
hot, it’s just going to take even less time and you’re going to come back and have some
really rich, dark, black, deep soil. This stuff in my opinion far outweighs the nutritive
value to the soil to build your microbial and fungal populations in the soil than just
simply bringing in some half rotted manures. How I would do this is I would take big things
of black plastic, fairly thick, so you could reuse the stuff. Try to get one that’s actually
UV treated so if you go down to Home Depot in the paint section to get the black plastic
they use for painting, that stuff’s not UV treated and it’s going to break down
really fast and then getting plastic flakes out of everything is a real pain in the butt.
So make sure that you get one that’s UV protected from a landscape supply company,
one that’s designed to do this. You are going to lay it all over the ground in a 10’x
10’ section or however much plastic you want to get. Lay it over and put some concrete
blocks on it or rocks to hold it down and keep it one there for a couple three weeks,
maybe a month. Look under it every once in a while. You want to make sure when you lift
if up that everything under there is completely caput, it’s gone, it’s no longer alive,
there is no sign of life, there’s no greenness. Once you get to that point, then cover up
that particular area with cardboard. I would use a couple layers, minimum 2-3 layers of
cardboard thick and then pile on 100% wood chips on the top. The wood chips with the
rock dust and also you could start it off with some mycelium King Stropharia like I
mentioned before. And basically you’ll start doing areas; you’ll do a 10’x 10’ section
then move down and do another 10’x 10’ section, move down and do another 10’x 10’
section, and then you’d have the whole yard wood chipped. What this will do, 1) this will
prevent you, or prevent Paul, from having to mow anymore. 2) it’s going to be a nice
surface to walk on. 3) the whole area now is being used for composting. This is how
nature would work in the forest the trees fall, the leaves drop, it composts everywhere
on the ground and continues to make more organic matter. Especially here in South Florida,
you need to add organic matter back into the sand. So that’s what the wood chips will
provide over the whole space. The other thing I would do is I would actually
start making a formal plan of the back yard. He’s laid it out fairly well, he’s done
a good job, all the trees are spaced out appropriately with the fence line, he’s got a different
patch of fruits growing about every 16’ up the fence line that’s going to fill in
really nice. I would basically take a piece of paper and draw on the piece of paper where
the fruit tree is planted and then draw a circle around the fruit tree where the leaf
size will be. Between those areas I would actually do raised bed gardens to maximize
the use of my sunlight, running the long direction in the yard. Then plant the shorter things
on this side of the yard, the taller things on that side of the yard so my things that
got tall on this side wouldn’t block the sun from getting the other side. I would basically
build them about 4’ wide and however long I could get away with. You could do shorter
ones and multiple ones, you could have more walkways if you want it, but I would just
do them as long as possible. I would build an irrigation in those as well, using either
the Aqua Jet or some kind of drip irrigation. Once I got all my raised beds plants so I
know where they’re going to go, by that time I would have solarized and put wood chips
everywhere, I would basically just move the wood chips aside, build some raised beds,
and fill that with some compost, and still do the wood chips in between the beds as the
walkways. The other thing I’d do, as the fruit trees
are really young now, you can use this opportunity to plant around the bases of them. Not too
close to the base, but around maybe the tree line where the limbs will be hanging out.
The areas hwere you put the circles of the expected growth because until they are big
and full and mature, there is more space, you could actually be growing more food. So
what I would do in this space, is I would maybe come out a couple feet from the trunk
and maybe pull back some the wood chips because I’ve got it all woo chipped by now, and
I’d pile in some compost if the wood chips are 8-12” high, I’d probably dig back
until I got the cardboard and fill it 6” high with some good compost. What I would
plant in this area are something like the sweet potatoes. I would plant sweet potato
vine in the ground and maybe cover up the top layer just with some wood chips just so
that it all matched and you would just see wood chips everywhere. But you are planting
the sweet potatoes not in undecomposed wood chips, but you’re planting them in compost
in an area where you come out a couple of feet in either direction from that center
point where you’re planting the sweet potatoes so that they’ll have a chance to grow and
if they want to grow down into the ground or into the wood chips, they’ll figure it
out but at least they have a nice solid base to grow into and to extract nutrition from.
And so now he’s going to have wood chips decomposing and he’s going to have sweet
potato vine encompassing all the way around so it’s going to look really cool. Also,
he’s growing one of the most viable food sources, which is a starch. Besides the fruits
which are delicious, the starches are really good food. People of many different cultures
have lived on starches for years. I think one of the challenges with America is that
people eat far too much animal products and not enough carbohydrates in the form of fruits,
starches, and grains. I want to encourage you guys to eat more sweet potatoes, which
in my opinion, are much healthier than eating meats.
Another thing I would do with this backyard is I would focus on growing more perennial
vegetables. Now he has an annual vegetable garden there that I showed you, and he does
have moringa, which is perennial vegetable because it just grows on a tree year round.
I would focus on growing other perennial vegetables here on the property. Things like the katuk
that I featured in the last video. Between the fruit trees, I might plant a katuk bush
or I would have a katuk hedge in the front of my property to keep people out but to grow
some edible food. I would grow things like the Malabar spinach up a trellis, up a fence,
in another area to have the delicious, edible leaves year around, so long as we didn’t
get a frost. And more importantly, the delicious, nutrient-dense, high antioxidant dark black
purple berries—I’ll put a link down below to a video that I actually harvested, and
my Malabar spinach experience, man that juice was amazing! Another thing I would grow if
I had enough space to dedicate to it, is of course I would grow my own sugar cane here.
In South Florida that’s another thing that is very viable to me, I’d get a sugar cane
juicer. He does have enough space and I would use some of the nondesirable space that’s
maybe shaded out or maybe not the best growing conditions for a tree or for vegetable garden.
To grow some sugar cane out maybe in the front yard, maybe I’d actually grow sugar cane
as a wind break in between me and my neighbor’s house. Instead of a fence I would just have
sugar cane planted at every couple of feet to make like a fence and then it would actually
grow edible food. I think that’s a really good use. And other perennial crops you could
grow, things like the Okinawan spinach, that grows on a vine. I’d have areas of Okinawan
spinach growing. I’d also have maybe the chia tree which is a tree that has greens
that are edible that you cook. Another thing that I would personally grow would be the
gynura procumbens, otherwise known as the longevity spinach which is going to love the
tropics because it is from the tropics and it should grow year around. As well as I’d
grow things like the cranberry hibiscus, which is really good to grow, it’s going to do
great here year around and always provide you with leaves. I think perennial vegetables
in this day and age are just not planted enough in South Florida. If you want to learn more
about perennial vegetables, check the link below to my video where I went and toured
Echo in Fort Meyers and they probably have the largest selection of perennial vegetables
of any place in South Florida that I’m aware of. When I find a new place that has more
or that even offers them, I will let you guys know about it, for sure.
Another tree that I would grow also, is a perennial tree, is called belle (hibiscus
manihot) That tree actually has edible leaves that kind of taste similar to lettuce. They
are really mild flavored, not strong like moringa, and that’s really another viable
crop to grow. Now, getting into some of the more exotic standard annual vegetable plants
that I would grow, are things that would do well in the Florida heat. People think you
can’t grow in the Florida summers, right? Because it’s too hot, but grass is growing
year around, why can’t you grow some edible vegetables year around? You can’t grow things
like lettuce in the heat of the summer, but there’s plenty of other things you can grow
here in South Florida. So I would grow some of the ones that would grow well for me in
hot Las Vegas; the dinosaur kale, probably the top pick for kale, I grow the Swiss chard,
another really good vegetable that doesn’t mind the heat. Another one I would grow is
the Egyptian spinach, that’s another great one as an annual that will do well here, of
course I like the okra as well, okra is a great food and it grows quite well here. I
didn’t see any okra planted, they do have some eggplants. Another thing I would grow
which is actually one of my favorites is the ashataba. They’ve done a lot of research
on this plant, it’s an anti-cancerous plant, I’ll put a link down below where I harvested
my ashataba seeds for you guys. But I’d grow the ashataba and see how it does here.
Of course I’d also want to focus on some root crops besides just the sweet potatoes
below the trees. I would plant something like the yacon. The yacon would do amazing here,
it’s known as earth apple. They are quite sweet; they are quite delicious. And of course
I’d also take my least desirable space to grow something like the Jerusalem artichokes
that should also do well here and were native to America.
Of course some other things I’d grow are some other crops that are native to this area
such as the everglades tomato, that makes a small little tomato that grows in the Everglades
here in South Florida. And I would just grow that in here and just kind of let it take
over so I would actually have tomatoes all year long. And of course another one I’d
grow up a trellis, up a fence line somewhere that I wasn’t growing anything else, because
there is a lot of fence line, or maybe even up a tree or something like that, is the Seminole
pumpkin. Those guys are really cool, they’re nice good storage pumpkins that will last
a long time off the plants so you could be eating them year around and they’d do fine
in this heat here. So the next thing I’d like to do in this
episode after I’ve made all my recommendations I can think of for now, is actually I’d
like to interview Paul for you guys, because I really enjoy interviewing my friends and
other farmers and people that are growing foods to let you guys know why they’re growing
and to let you know how passionate they are about growing their own food because this
is something to me that’s super important. I’m glad it’s important to other people,
too! I mean, this is evident by the number of subscribers I have on my YouTube channel,
which is probably over 260,000 people now, which is totally insane! My videos have been
viewed over 37 million times on this YouTube channel, so people really want this information,
and this information needs to be available more than just on my YouTube channel. Through
every school and university, we need to be taught why and how to grow our own food. So
let’s go ahead and interview Paul Nison next.
So now I’m here with Paul Nison, and he’s the homeowner here that’s decided to do
this with his property. I think this is excellent use of this space, and I want to ask him a
few questions today. JOHN: So Paul, why did you decide to put in
all the fruit trees, and the garden here, instead of just growing a lawn?
PAUL: Well, several reasons. One reason is like you said, homeowner. And I’ve come
to the conclusion that I’m not really the owner of this. This is our creator just lending
me this land and I want to take care of it as well as possible and use it in the most
useful way. He’s given us the fruits and vegetables for our bodies. If we grow them
and he’s given us the knowledge and the wisdom to grow them and he’s blessed me
with the opportunity to have this plot of land, to do something with it. So physically
I want to take care of myself best as possible and I just know you cannot buy fruits and
vegetables anymore that have all the nutrients in them. I see you grow your fruits and vegetables
and people that grow it, they’re getting more nutrients in their food that they just
can’t even buy. So when you take all that into consideration; I wanted to treat the
land like it should be treated, and I also want to treat my body the way it should be
treated. JOHN: Wow. I think that’s an excellent reason.
As Paul mentioned, some of the studies I’ve seen on just store bought fruits and vegetables…primary
agriculture is concerned with three main minerals and Paul’s adding a ton here through the
various means that he does. That’s why I encourage you to use the trace minerals, things
such as the rock dust and the ocean solution; to grow higher quality food than money can
buy because if you’re buying your food in the store, you’re supporting big industry.
Big industry is not there to support nature, health, or anything, they’re just there
to support their pocketbooks. So Paul, I know you have a family also, you
have two young girls that I met earlier, and a wife. How important is it that you’re
growing a garden for your family to let your kids know about real food?
PAUL: Well, to let them know about just nature and creation and how things just live and
grow is really important. There are so many lessons they can get out of that. When you
just think about, you know I don’t believe, even from a health food store, that it’s
possible to get the nutrients our body needs from store bought food. If it is even possible
anymore because man has destroyed what our creator gave us. He’s destroyed the seeds,
the soil, and everything else. If it is possible at all, the only way it will be possible is
if we grow it ourselves. If someone is living on 100% store bought produce, they’re missing
something. And I don’t want to miss these things. I do take supplements because I know
I don’t have gardens like you right now, but one day I hope to do have that so I can
grow even my supplements, but it’s important for the health of my family and for my physical
health, and the health of everyone because when they see this and that they would get
a lesson and they would say, “Well, we could do this also.”
JOHN: That’s why I make these videos to show you what other people are doings so you
can be inspired. Paul is doing this here in South Florida, which many people complain,
“I can’t grow anything in South Florida,” I met gardener the other day that said they
can’t grow anything. But it’s easy if you do it properly, right? And I do also want
to say, just because you grow your own food doesn’t mean it’s going to be the highest
quality—it’s likely to be higher quality than in the store but I want to ensure you
guys—do the specific practices it takes to grow higher quality food basically through
a few things; through the biology, so like I recommended to Paul doing the wood chips
and creating a good biology, fungal and bacterial biology. Then also through the trace minerals,
which a lot of people may not believe in but I believe it’s critical and if you’re
using composts and things generated from standard industrial agriculture, people’s yards that
are being grown with chemical fertilizers, there’s going to be a limited nutrient spectrum
inside the things that you’re actually bringing into your yard to enrich it. Whereas I believe
we want to add 70-90 different trace minerals into the soil.
So Paul, another thing that I wanted to ask you about today is, I know you selected many
different fruit trees; why did you pick some of the ones you did and not others, and what
is your favorite fruit tree you’re growing? PAUL: Well, what I want to say, and this will
answer your question, is, most people they buy a house and the yard that comes along
with it is like their benefit. To me, I was actually looking for a yard and the house
was the benefit. That was my goal, really, and I wanted this land to do this. So, why
I planted what I planted was how I can most efficiently get the most out of the food.
So if I were to have just planted mango trees of one variety, it would have been too much
to eat at that time of year. So I planted four different mango trees and they each are
in season at a different time. Same thing, avocados is something I eat a lot. But if
I would have just planted one variety of avocado, with more than one tree it would have been
too much at one time. So I planted four avocados strategically so each season I’ll have avocados.
And then I started to look at some of my favorite exotic fruits. I planted a lot of those because
I will overeat those. But for the most part I strategically planted, I didn’t just plant
fruit. I love coconuts, and I know it’s going to take a long time to get to coconuts,
but I’m going to get hundreds of coconuts off those trees. And I put those at the front
of the house because there are other fruits that are more valuable, people might actually
steal. Coconuts are quite common here in South Florida so I put those at the front of the
house, I put my more prized fruits at the back of the house, and I didn’t plant things
that I don’t like the taste of or I know I wouldn’t eat. There are a couple of things
like a mulberry and even a cherry that I planted and it’s ok, it’s more of a fun food for
the kids, and even for me, but really make it meal of food the avocados and the lemons
and things like this…lemons are another one. I’ve got three lemon trees and oranges,
but lemons I use a lot of. I look at the cost of food, as well. Lemons usually cost quite
a bit of money, especially the organic lemons…so that’s why I did that. I’m here in South
Florida. I know fruit trees grow really well here because I’ve done it. The gardening,
six months out of the year you can definitely do it. And the rest of the year you can find
ways to do it as well. So I’m encouraged by your videos, and this is the first time
I’ve taken on something this big, but it’s exciting.
JOHN: Yeah, it’s awesome. And I want to encourage you to, just like Paul, be smart
about what you are planting. It’s not too bad to plant vegetables that you may not like
or plant them half-hazardly because that’s what’s available at the store, but if you
plant fruit trees, fruit trees are an investment. The fig tree here is going to last over 100
years, right? It’s going to be here for a really long time. You’re either going
to have to live with that fruit or chop it down if you don’t like it. So buy fruit
trees that you know you’re going to like, you’ve tasted the fruit before, or for strategic
reasons like Paul’s done here, I think that’s just super smart and super intelligent.
Alright Paul, so the next question I want to ask you is about the bugs. I know you’re
growing an organic garden and you’re not going to spray it with toxic pesticides because
you’ve got your kids running around and maybe putting things in their mouth and stuff.
In my opinion, pesticides and herbicides and all these fungicides like chemicals are not
good for us. How are you managing here doing organic, because everybody always says, “in
Florida, you’ve got all kinds of bugs,” have you had any problems and what have you
done about it? PAUL: Well, one of the reasons why I planted
fruit trees first before I planted a garden, the garden came after the trees, is because
it’s much easier to grow a tree than it is to grow a garden. However, when you are
planting a tree from the beginning, you’ve got to water it a lot and I didn’t have
a system put in yet. I had to hand water all these trees. That was an hour a day, and the
bugs…I would get these little white bugs eating the leaves. One day I came out and
my soursop tree was gone! Every leaf was eaten, and I found these little red caterpillars.
My garden guy said, “oh, you got to get rid of those.” So the bugs were a problem
at first, but as the tree grows you learn to deal with it. I have had these experiences
before on my other trees, but the trees just thrived. Water was a big one for me, though,
because in the summer here it rains a lot, but when it’s not the summer the trees here
aren’t looking as good. Especially when they’re starting out, so I wanted to get
the water to them and get enough. That’s a big struggle a lot of people have here in
South Florida—especially in the winter time is not watering enough. I have a neighbor
that has trees, and another neighbor that has trees, and the neighbor that has trees
says he’s going to water his trees, and I go, “but your other neighbor doesn’t
water his trees and his trees are good.” He said, “yeah, but have you ever seen the
quality of fruit that he gets?” So he’s watering his trees, and I got that. I’m
watering all my trees and taking care of them. JOHN: Yeah, that’s real important. That’s
why I showed you guys the irrigation system Paul put in. I believe everybody, whether
they have a vegetable garden or they’re growing fruit trees, should have an irrigation
system—to be sure your plants get the water they need. Because I want your trees and vegetables
and things you plant to grow to their full genetic potential like we should also want
for us as well. By drowning your trees or not giving them enough water, they’re not
going to be as healthy. When they’re not as healthy they are not going to produce as
good of quality of fruits, they’re not going to produce as much of fruits and they’re
not going to be as bug, or diseases, or as pest resistant. Nature, for eons, has had
to deal with pests, bugs, and disease in the trees and whatnot. 100 years ago there were
no such thing as pesticides to spray on the trees, right? But what we did have was we
had healthy soil, because nature knows how to do it. So we had healthy soil and the trees
would be healthy so they would have their own built-in disease resistance. So that’s
why I think proper fertilization and providing proper nutrients to your trees are critical,
as well. PAUL: Speaking about water, too, it was quite
challenging because did I want to get a well? Or did I not want to get a well? You got to
weigh out the differences. There was a well here but it wasn’t working. And I thought,
“well let me try it out without the well first and see actually how much it’s going
to cost,” and to see if it would actually be worth the investment to actually get a
well. And then also putting the sprinkler system in, or the irrigation system, which
one do I want? I went really cheap with poly pipe dug into the ground, but my neighbor
went a lot more expensive, so there are a lot of decisions made that you don’t think
of until you do it, but the only way you’re going to learn is to do it.
JOHN: Yeah, there is expenses to the well and pros and cons using city water or a well.
If it wasn’t too expensive, I would probably get a well in. I think the water coming out
of the ground is probably one of the best water unless it’s contaminated. One of the
things I would personally do, and I don’t know if Paul’s doing it here yet or if he
will, is I would actually filter the city water. City water in general is pretty good
quality, but they’re going to be adding things into it such as the chlorine that may
diminish your microbial populations in your soil, which I’m actually working hard to
build up. That’s why we don’t drink tap water, many people, because they don’t want
to get the chlorine and the other impurities, and if they’re adding fluoride, so we filter
it out first. So I would recommend that Paul would get a filter here.
So Paul, about the bugs…have you had to spray anything on your trees or your plants
or anything like that? PAUL: One of the only things I tried spraying
was the Ocean Grown. I sprayed that and they told me what mixture to do and I sprayed that.
It helped at the time, but there’s still a good amount on here so I’ll sometimes
go around and get them off there. JOHN: I see. So Ocean Solution or Ocean Grown
is a trace mineral supplementation that I would recommend for you guys that adds up
to 90 different trace minerals onto the plant. How that works and it’s not necessarily
by killing the bugs, but it provides your plants the nutrients it needs so it can make
its own protection. When your plant has a limited diet, it can’t make all the plant
metabolites that it’s supposed to. For example, the tomato that Paul has planted here. The
tomato plant will make over 300 different plant metabolites if it has all the proper
building blocks. People know that we need the proper building blocks, we need protein!
Or more specifically we need amino acids to build our bodies. But plants need all the
different trace minerals and things from the soil. If they’re not there, they’re not
going to be as healthy as they can be. The other things I would actually spray if I needed
to spray things here, I would use a neem oil, Dr. Bronner sell it, it’s soap. That seems
to do pretty well against most bugs. And of course, like Paul’s done, I always recommend
you to do first is to basically do manually control. So that means walking around to each
tree and inspecting the leaves to see if you’ve got aphids or white flies or little caterpillars.
Pick them off and dispose of them, get rid of them. If you have time to do this, that’s
great. That’s probably the best way to do things instead of spraying your trees down
with things that may have potential repercussions to the tree, or to the soil, or to you. Even
if they’re organic, some things in high doses may cause imbalances in my opinion.
It’s best to have healthy trees in the first place. Just like us, like Paul mentioned earlier,
he’s taking supplementation to ensure his dietary gaps, well let’s go ahead and supplement
our trees with the highest possible nutrition so that we don’t have any dietary gaps and
we live like we’re supposed to without having to take supplements because our food system
is void of the nutrition that it should have. So Paul, although your garden, and your trees,
and your vegetables all look great, and you’re the homeowner here, I know you’re not going
to take any of the credit for all this that we have, so why do you say this?
PAUL: Well, we have a Creator who created everything. He’s given us an instruction
manual of how to use these things. Most people don’t use that instruction manual; it’s
the Bible. In there, is the perfect example; it’s the Garden of Eden. He had the fruit
trees and he had the instructions of the diet for man that would help man thrive the most.
The example was, if we listen to our creator’s instructions we would be blessed. If we didn’t
listen to our Creator’s instructions, we would be cursed. Most people are cursed by
not having the opportunity to eat these fruits, and it goes on a physical level of getting
the produce because they’re not taking the investment into their physical and spiritual
health, and it goes on, on just every single level. If we follow the instructions of our
Creator we will be blessed. Look in your Bible, Genesis 1:29, the food for man is fruits and
vegetables. JOHN: Paul, but I know a lot of people out
there may be raising chickens and goats and different things, and drinking their meat
and eating their milk. What does the Bible say about this? Because I know a lot of people
into homesteading do eat these very things. I think they have a good place in a homestead,
but what does the Bible say if we’re supposed to listen to the Bible:
PAUL: Well it’s very simple. In the Bible is says that if you live against the guidelines
and instructions of the Creator, that is sin is. But the Bible does say it’s okay to
eat meat, it’s ok to drink milk and do all these things. That was plan B of our Creator.
That was plan B. Originally, plan A was eat the fruits and vegetables. So it’s allowable
in the Bible to eat meat, and to drink milk and to do all these things, but for me, I’m
sticking to plan A. JOHN: So you’re not sinning if you’re
eating meat and all these things? PAUL: Well, there’s guidelines that come
along with it. There is what’s called clean meat, or kosher meat. Then there is unclean
food, which our Creator calls an abomination. So if you are eating those unclean foods like
pork and lobster, and things like that, that is a sin—according to the Bible, according
to God, according to our Creator. However, if you’re eating meat according to the guidelines
and instructions, the kosher way, it’s not a sin.
JOHN: I see, I see. So in your opinion, if somebody wanted to eat meat, how much meat
is healthy or unhealthy to eat? Because I know your diet is primarily fruits and vegetables
and plant foods. PAUL: Well, I eat a vegan diet and I do know
that we all overeat pretty much. We eat way more than we have to. We eat for pleasure;
we eat way more than for just nutrition, the majority of people out there, at least everybody
I’ve ever met. People that eat meat, when they eat it are just eating way too much.
During the biblical times they didn’t eat it nearly as much as they do today. The amount
of disease is the perfect example to monitor if you are doing too much. If there is no
disease and you’re eating meat, and you’re eating the right type of meat, then you are
eating not too much. But if you are suffering from some type of ailment, you’re eating
too much. So it’s not for me, each person is an individual of how much they can eat.
But the fact that people get sick, they’re eating too much. You can eat too much meat,
you can eat too much fruit, you can eat too much vegetables. If everyone was doing the
right amount, we wouldn’t be getting sick. JOHN: Yeah, I think that’s important, to
be balanced in your life. Whatever that is to you, and of course I have my own opinion
of what balance is for me and my body because I listen to my body. One of the things I have
learned, Paul talked about overeating; one of the things I have learned is that by eating
higher quality food you need to eat less food and you’re more satisfied. Because if we’re
eating faux-foods because they don’t have the nutrition in there they should or the
flavor and taste, (and flavor and taste are actually indicators of the nutritional quality)
then we are going to constantly want to be eating and maybe even overeating, especially
things like the calories which is so prevalent in this day and age. So if you like to hear
more about what Paul is talking about, Paul has some YouTube channels and does a lot of
education in his own rights. So Paul, how can somebody learn more about
you, your work, and what you’re doing? PAUL: Well, if anyone wants to see my health
information, I have a website called The Raw Life Health Show. I have a YouTube channel
by the same name. And if you want to see my Bible videos, I have a website called
and that YouTube page is Health Watchman. JOHN: Awesome, Paul. So I want to encourage
you to reach out and check Paul’s work out. He’s been a friend of mine for, oh I don’t
even know, over 10-15 years now. He’s a good guy, I’m glad he’s finally got a
place where he can grow on a large scale because I have videos before with Paul where he just
kind of converted a little condo patio, actually we did it together, that was fun! I’ll put
links down below. That was like his first four days of growing food, he did a great
job, and now that he’s got a house he’s really going full tilt. Hopefully he’ll
take some of the advice that I shared with him in this episode. Next time we come back
it’s going to be a full on permaculture food forest here in South Florida.
PAUL: well let me say, before john took you around, there was one tree right in the middle
of the yard, it was a big shade tree, that’s all that was there. I mean, this tree was
big, it covered pretty much the whole yard. I knew the people that had the property before,
and they had all this potential but they didn’t do anything with it. The first thing I did
when I moved in, literally the first thing I did was to make plans to get that tree cut
down. Then when I got that tree cut down, I made plans to get what we’ve got going
on here, or what we’ve got growing on here. But don’t let a tree get in the way, we
cut that down and we’ll have a lot of shade eventually.
JOHN: Yep, yep. One of the things I want to encourage you guys is by the inch it’s a
cinch, by the yard it’s hard. I know when you have a property and you buy something,
you probably already got to fix up the house and do house things. But don’t think you’re
going to create this overnight. Do one step at a time, make a plan, lay it out, and slowly
but surely. Every weekday you have free, every weekend work on it. That’s simply what I
do in my life. Every day I’m free at home I go out and play in my garden. To me, this
is just fun, it’s not work. I think we should all just be having fun in life, and just do
things that you guys enjoy. Any last comments you’d like to share with people, Paul?
PAUL: No, just check out the videos on YouTube, John has great videos. If you have any questions
about gardening and what to do, I know to a lot of us it’s a foreign concept, but
the best way you’re going to find out is to try it. That’s the best way. So try it
and see if it works. And maybe John will come out and see something in your yard that he’s
never seen before. It’s really cool to try things that are new. I mean, I’ve got a
compost toilet, and sometimes in my previous house and here eventually we’ll get into
humanure and things like that. There are so many things out there that people have done,
follow what has been successful. But there is also so many things that people haven’t
done yet, so be a leader and be an inventor and try these things out. That’s the most
important thing is have fun with it. No matter what you do, have fun with it. If you’re
not having fun with it, don’t waste your time.
JOHN: Yeah, that’s pretty much well said, Paul. I want to thank you for having me out
today, thanks for allowing me to share with your garden and your wise words and with my
viewers today. And yeah, if you guys enjoyed this video with Paul, give me a thumbs up
and be sure to come back and visit Paul next time he’ll show you guys the updates and
progress on his place. I know I’ve had a fun time and I can’t wait until his trees
start producing fruit, I’ll be getting to eat some of the fruits of his labor. Also
be sure to check out my past episodes, I have over 1100 episodes on all aspects of gardening.
I have at least over a dozen episodes on South Florida, so if you live here in South Florida,
you are going to want to do some of the things that I share with you in those videos because
I model and show you guys what people are doing successfully so that you, too, can be
successful. Also, be sure to click that subscribe button right down below the video so you can
be notified of my new and upcoming episodes coming out, about every three days.
So once again my name is John Kohler with, we’ll see you next
time. Until then, remember, keep on growing.

100 thoughts on “Growing a Back To Eden Garden with Wood Chips

  1. I have been using the Back To Eden method for at least 5 years. If I hear trees being cut in my neighborhood, I get in the car, find them and they are always happy to drop them in my driveway. I get at least 20 yards a year and still need more.
    Cheers from zone 7!
    To plant a garden is to believe in the future.

  2. Good video.
    Some points on using manure: Use horse manure instead of cow manure, if possible. Horse manure has more nutrients left in it. Cow manure is more thoroughly digested, hence less nutrients. Cows are more likely to be injected with hormones, etc. One problem with horse manure is, because it is not as thoroughly digested, it will have more viable weed seeds in it. So, be sure to hot-compost it well for several weeks or months before using to kill as many weed seeds as possible. If you don't, you are going to get a bunch of new types of weeds growing in your garden!

    One thing your friend may have wrong, or you possibly explained incorrectly. You DO NOT want to grow the plants "in" the wood chips, or even in wood chips mixed with manure. Wood chips will take away too much of the nitrogen the plants need to grow. You want to plant the seedlings or seeds in SOIL, and then mulch around them with the wood chips and manure. I would compost the manure and other food scraps that will decompose quickly, plant in that if it is completely broken down, and save the wood chips for the top layer. Wood chips take a while to totally break down.

  3. Got a load of compost (manure and hay) mix from local horse
    farm for my tomato plot and lost all of my plants to leaf curl. Found out that
    the farmer had been spraying his hay fields with a herbicide to kill weeds.
    Found a link 9see below) to confirm my suspicions.

  4. Profanity Really! Be thoughtful of others please. My young kids and I watch gardening videos quite a bit and to hear that unnecessary language twice right off the bat is just amazing to me. For people to think that's acceptable for public communication is telling.

  5. Watching from South Carolina here.  I love your zest for life and eating right.  I completely agree with you about our food being poisoned.  I live on 5 ac. of land but I will be starting off some veggies in a few pots first and then to the yard next.  I have been watching Paul on the Back to Eden garden from Washington and he has some great ideas also for larger lots.  Thanks for caring so much and I know your heart is in it for all the right reasons.  God is using you young man and you are doing a really good thing.  My goal is to lose weight as eat better as I do have hypothyroidism as does my mom and this is a disease that can cause metabolism problems and hair loss.  I really believe the food I consume is making it worse but I refuse to take medications unless I absolutely have too as I think meds are bad for our immune system and breaks our immunity system down over time.  God Bless and keep up the good work.  I will be taking your advise for potting soil and raised beds.

  6. History is the single most important thing you can learn. If you know where you've been, you'll know where you're heading.

  7. Every time I watch his videos on TV, through Chromecast, I have to ensure I have my Garden Journal. What a wealth of walking information! Many thanks!!

  8. Hey John love your videos! I have to tell you though , using the plastic is it really not necessary unless you've got something like Bermuda grass or Johnson grass, or some other really invasive grass . He could actually rent a sod stripper, turn the sod upside down and then just cover it with the cardboard and the woodchips. The grass will then decompose into the soil adding some much needed nitrogen! I myself have done this and it worked great on a ryegrass lawn! Keep posting your great videos I really appreciate them!

  9. Actually according to the "Dr. John R. Christopher herbalist seminars" on YouTube, in the Bible in Genesis it says something to the effect that the fruit shall be your food and the leaves shall be your medicine. Back then, between the times of Adam to Noah, people lived almost 1000 years. It wasn't until after the flood that eating animals was permitted. Even then they were only supposed to be eaten during times of flood, famine or winter (when fruit isn't available).  There even used to be a "Book of Herbs" in the Bible which was later taken out – probably due to the beginnings of dumbing people down and/or taking away their ability to care for themselves as easily.

  10. 16:32 I made a similar garden this year with wood chips over the grass. I did not till the soil, but I did use a spade shovel to 'peel back' the grass layer. The result was a bunch of sod pieces around 8" squared, and three inches thick. I piled them up in strips around the perimeter to form a neat wall around the woodchips. Looks great and it's free. I call it the living wall method, because the grass roots hold it together.

  11. john, the bitter melon plant we called cirasee in Jamaica, a very important herb for making tea for many medical reasons

  12. hmmm 20 minutes in, still no wood chips, just grass and trees….. I guess I will keep this on while I work, but maybe you could cut your videos into more specific segments?

  13. John, I would love to see a video where you tour Paul Gautschi's garden. He is the guy who started the 'Back to Eden' movement. I am very interested to see your impressions of his garden, soil, and how the fruit tastes to you. I started watching gardening videos with you, and am very curious to see your opinions once you visit his garden in person! Thanks

  14. This was fascinating. I've never tried using rock dust, but want to try it. The only type I can find locally is Azomite. Would that work to add minerals/enrich the compost in this gardening method?

  15. MRSA infections associated with Crop Field Application of Manure, and Risk of (MRSA) infection. MRSA is caused by a type of staph bacteria that's become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections…just GOOGLE MRSA and Manure.

  16. As a side not when using this manure/bedding mix adding mushroom spawn of several species can significantly add to the bioremediation of a lot of the things you listed as the negative possible things that can be found in the manure. It's very worth reading into to. You may be surprised how amazing it can be to levels of any possible toxins.

  17. Hi John, You talk about irigation, and bug picking, but Paul from Back to eden (full tour 5h lengt), says he do not water his trees from 30+ years, the wood chips does the irrigation work, the earth is always wet inside he showes. And bugs, there is no bugs if the plant is strong, and boy hes plans strong! full of water, so he does not pick bugs himself. He does as little as put seeds and get fruits, and cut trees. weeds also no problem, all explained in 5h full tour, its just craaazy. Best Regards.

  18. John, I have been a great supporter of yours for many many years now but what you said about manure is not accurate. What actual proof do you have to support your statement when you say that manure is not as nutritious for plants as grass clippings, and pure plant waste and leaves etc, that an animal hasn't eaten and then voided out of their bodies? God made our whole environment as a symbiotic functioning environment. That mean the animals eat plants, grasses, fruit, and any other vegetation and in return the animals spread seeds and fertilize the soil. This process has NEVER been hazardous to humans. I don't recommend using raw manure in your compost of course but well seasoned and dried out manure is fine. I believe if the animals eat healthy non pesticide grasses and alfalfa the manure produced from such foods are not bad for you to use in your garden. Keep on growin!

  19. jon love the vids, keep them coming. look up Alberta urban gardening on youtube. he puts some behind garden practices and myths. thanks

  20. John, I like the info in your vids, but I really wish you would shorten them, man. Keep them more tightly focused on the title/subject.

  21. Hi.
    I have a pile of old rotten firewood white birch to be exact. Would that be good for my garden all the fine small pieces of rotten wood.

  22. on the subject of bugs: several rows of repellent plants like tansy, rosemary, lavender, and herbs (basil oregano thyme) will keep bugs out of your house, and reduce pests in the surrounding gardens at the same time. Your house may smell nice as well. And these herbs can be trimmed and made into organic pest sprays/solutions.

  23. How would you have known about our flaws of submitting to the "system" without the "History", why history is important solved.

  24. What kind of fruit and nut trees grow best in Zone 8A, Alabama? We have a large amount of property. Great video! Thank you.

  25. PLease Read this John,  DONT  JUST COVER the grass!!!!!!!!Okay, the grass can be a real problem.  Bermuda grass  and quack grassfor example, from personal experience cannot be smothered. It will stay vibrant under many layers of mulch and cardboard and especially woodchips.  It will form multiple layers, so every time you add a layer another layer of this horrible grass will come up.  Its a 14 year process for us, getting loads of chips and leaves and grass and trying to smother, we had beautiful, but infested with grass soil.  Now, we have literally hand pulled multiple 20×20 beds in disgust because we did not realize this sooner.  Tiller not useful, just cuts up the roots and allows deeper penetration.  Its really not a bad job if you do it at the right time, it is recommended that fall weeding is more effective than spring.  Just dig a clump, let it sit in sun for a bit and give it a good kick. Dried roots can be piled up, dried further and BURNED.  Do not mulch these terrors, the can be dormant for a long time and continue growing.

  26. All children should be taught to grow food. Any teaching in this direction would improve the health of the next generation.

  27. I think you are GREAT! Have been watching you for years, but I got sidetracked and stopped thinking about gardening for a couple years. I love that you are showing how to start from scratch with a new home. I also love that you are showing how to grow in different states. I hope you have done one from the Atlanta area. I am going to check through your videos.

  28. hell ya, im with you,
    im growing all kinds of fruit trees and fruit plants, if i can eat it i will grow it,
    KNOWLEDGE ABOUT FRUITFUL TREES im on facebook page

  29. i have some 6 month old wood chips and some new wood chips. can i consider the old, compost and the new just wood chips? i also have straw with duck poop in it. i have remaining garden plants and old weeds growing in the garden. should i be concerned about the weeds or just put everything on top. do i need news paper first. do i need to add manure. i can get my hands on mushroom manure. it november 5th and i want to start preparing for spring now. there are to many weed to pull. would it be bad to till them under

  30. If you had paid attention in history perhaps you would know how empowering it was for people not to have to grow their own food. I love to garden, I've had plants since I was little and really enjoy it, but when I was busy in school I spent like an hour a week at the grocery store instead of several hours a day in the garden. Not everyone has a job where they can afford to pay gardeners to grow food for them.

  31. John, you're such an inspiration to others. I am 73 year old widow. I have many heath problems. I'm need grow foods that takes care of my blood lungs,heart and I am diabete. I pray you have your farm you wanted. I started growing Moringa and started to prepare for growing sprouts. If you can help me with this or have a video for it I will be happy. I am now taking the Moringa capsules but I will be happy to go out to my Moringa trees and pinch some tops and leaves. My trees are about five inches now. The ones i have pinched the tops to eat are Growing better than the smaller one.

  32. No offense to your friend here John, but any food received with Thanksgiving is acceptable. Tell your friend to read about the dream that God gave to Peter (in the New Testament), regarding this. I realize he is Jewish, but hopefully he might be open.

  33. You really hit the nail on the head!
    Why are we not taught growing food, butchering animals and basic home repairs like plumbing and carpentry in school?
    I bet 80% of Western Europeans/Americans probably don't even know how to light a fire with out accelerant, surely that's a basic human life skill!

    Well done. I'll have to subscribe now

  34. watch paul gautschi how he does the back to Eden gardening . listen to God always

  35. Kosher meat is the flesh of animals that habe been tortured to death. What kind of god would give such advice?
    Beside the religious stuff a great video!

  36. I appreciate John respecting this man enough to allow him to speak on his beliefs. We don't hear much about the Bible. So, to hear this was a little shocking to me in a good way.

  37. Great tour. Lots of good information.

    For trace minerals, plant comfrey under or between your fruit trees. Buy just a couple of the cuttings, you'll be able to divide it enough for all of your fruit trees within a few years. Rock dust is a waste of money, IMHO.

    Thanks. Best to you.

  38. Thanks for the video John , where your friend could get the manure in south Florida?, because I'm looking for some, and if is organic cow manure, tanks

  39. Hi John I want to grow an organic garden and I want to know if I use newspaper to build my garden bed will it still be considered as an organic garden and also if I use it in my compost , will my veggie garden be organic.

  40. What about if you live in an apartment? Luckily with a patio, but patio only gets about 3 to 4 hours direct sun light at best. Thanks!!

  41. Thanks for the video! Do you have one on how to start vegetable garden right away, what to put in dirt….I really don't like the idea of animal manure. Definitely like the wood chips, but how to make nice rich soil right away? And can I buy dirt about anywhere or need to do researches on that? Thank you

  42. Instead of reading an old book that supposedly our creator inspired to be written by man, ask your body what it requires. It has its own consciousness. A fan of back to eden gardening, not the religion that is pushed along with it.

  43. Love your videos with all the motivation and helpful information. I am hook on you😄😄😁😁👍👍😍😍😍😍😍

  44. John You really just need to put the cardboard thick with the wood chips on top and the grass just disappears !! The grass actually helps to have better soil !! It really works GREAT !! No Black Plastic Nessary !!

  45. Strawberries  grow good  in the wood chips !!GREAT ANSWER PAUL !!The produce at the grocery stores do not have the flavor of home grown !!

  46. one thing i see everybody over looking is that paul has a wood oven and heats with wood and when he cleans out his fireplace he put the ash and charcoal in the chicken pin and it become active biochar which holds water and nutrients and micr  biochar can last for up to 600 years before it brakes down so the wood chips covers the earth and creates a moist area for bugs, worms,  fungus, and mycro life and his biochar catches the nutrients and water and stop the nutrients from running off just my thoughts

  47. Getting ready to do Back to Eden gardening style in the Sornoran desert USDA plant zone 10a in southern Arizona. Only get about 7 inches of rain annually and the 1/2 acre is dry and dusty sand. I'm thinking I'm going to start making videos of it from the start so I can document the journey… Cant wait to see how well it will work in this desert environment and see how lush I can get some of the warmer weather fruits and veggies 🙂

  48. To all the people complaining about the religious message, have you heard the phrase, “I’d rather have it than not need it, than need it and not have it?” Same with religion. I’d rather believe and find out there’s nothing when I die, than to die and realize I’m going to burn in hell because I refused to open my mind. Just something to think about. Everyone has their choice, but I’m not taking any chances with my own life. There may be no “proof” there’s a God, but there’s also no proof there isn’t.

  49. I like your videos but I don’t let my family watch because you feel the need to use profanity sometimes when it seems totally unnecessary. Just thought you might like to know they’re are people/families like ours that may not follow you because of the language. You don’t use it often but enough that I can’t leave my kids watching your channel. We watch a lot of gardening videos.

  50. Is this the same dude Paul who lives in Lake Worth, FL who puts his own feces on all his fruit trees and vegetables and refuses to shave his face, armpit and pubic area because he believes its natural ?

  51. Love that Paul is unashamed and observant! I too, will follow the design planned by our Creator and follow the plan Given BEFORE SIN! I will not follow the plan after sin. And since I can't be without sin totally, i follow The Creators Meshiach, YeSHuWaH for His REDEMPTION! TODAH RABBAH!

  52. Who in the fuck does this guy think he is I'm not going to listen for a hour of babble about something that's all ready been explain in a thousand other you tube videos in less than 5 minutes…take a hike skinny jeans boy…

  53. How do you protect your produce growing on your fence vines, when your neighbors have lawn companies that spray weed killers and other chemicals. I'm in HOA run neighborhood but are able to grow stuff in our fenced in back yard..

  54. I get confused about using the wood chips… I've heard mulch (which is the wood chips, right?) leaches the nutrients that the plants need…to not use the mulch until it's completely broken down. What's the difference here?

  55. Inspired by back to Eden, but different, we have been trialing tilling wood chips into the bed with good results, see:

  56. Hey John, I love your stuff. I'm building an online community for local business people and would love to have you join us. Bob Polan here. I'm a marketing coach and consultant and the Host of, a new app that engages local business people in conversation about things that matter to the local business community.

    Right now we are like a town without a population. You will be a founding member. You'll get a chance to invite others, converse, connect, and collaborate with local businesses around the corner and around the world.

    One of the topics I have included on my Local Biz Buzz is Success stories. Every time we share a new member's success story our members will be inspired.

    Yesterday I met a man with a truly inspiring story. His journey has taken him from my local area to the top of the world and back. This week he will be sharing his journey and his TedX talk on Local Biz Buzz. I hope you will join us and share your story of success.
    Your story will be an inspiration to all and inspire some local business owners to start growing micro-greens.

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