Okay, you’re here because you hate gardening.
Wait… why are you here?
Okay, maybe you’re just looking for the easiest, lowest maintenance gardening method there is. Well, I’m about to give you just that.
It’s Called Forest Gardening
And it’s beyond “organic.” It’s truly natural farming.
Sure, if you’re a non-gardener you might not care about whether your farming is “natural.”
“Let’s just throw a load of really good fertilizer on there and be done with it,” you might say.
But, here’s the thing: Natural farming is actually less effort, because it’s all about getting nature to do all the work for you.
In the forest gardening community, our understanding of this stuff is getting to the level where we’re able to create almost zero maintenance food forests that actually build soil rather than deplete it, so the bounty increases each year without having to do anything.
The actual setting up of a food forest takes no longer than a single weekend. If you want to spend the least amount of effort possible, then the only things you need are a rake, several large rolls of brown paper, and an absolute load of arborist wood chips. They’re about 20% wood to 80% “green” organic matter, by the way. 100% “brown” wood chips, which are literally just chipped up wood, aren’t going to break down and feed your soil.
Anyway, with the rolls of brown paper layer, if you have enough spare cardboard or a even huge amount of newspaper, then you can use that instead.
This is what it’s for:
Sheet mulching means you can convert anything into a food forest without any digging or weeding. All you have to do is cover the area that your food forest is going to be in with paper or cardboard to smother the grass, weeds and other stuff that you have growing there, and then pile at least 3-4 inches of fine wood chips right on top. If you’re using newspaper, make sure to pile it with at least 5-6 layers. With brown contractor’s paper or cardboard, you only need one layer.
If the area wasn’t flat to begin with, or if you’ve got taller weeds that won’t squash flat, then you can just rake the living daylights out of them and get the area as flat as you care to bother with.
Starting in Fall or Winter?
If you do this in fall or winter, you’ll be ready to plant in the soil below your wood chips when spring comes. Just rake back a line of wood chips to expose the bare soil beneath, and then drop seeds in that trench and leave it. Don’t move the wood chips back around your plants until they have grown clearly strong enough to handle it. Seedlings are pretty delicate.
Starting in Spring or Summer?
If you’re doing this in spring or summer, then just put 3-4 inches of compost above your sheet mulching layer of brown paper before you pile 3-4 inches of arborist wood chips on top of that. This means you can skip all the waiting and just plant right in that compost layer. Again, just rake back a line of wood chips to expose the compost beneath, and drop seeds right in that. Let them just sit there on the surface, and don’t cover them back up with wood chips until they look more like actual plants rather than just seedlings.
You’ll just need to thin your crops out if you notice your seedlings growing ridiculously close together. It’s fine for them to be pretty snug though.
Grow anything you feel like eating. That’s all I can say. Buy some fruit trees and plant some climbing plants under them like peas or grapes so you don’t need to build a trellis. Magic.
Don’t bother watering your garden. It doesn’t need it when you have the wood chips down to protect and build the soil. I wrote all about that here.