Chip Gardening – How To Make Chips FAST!

Back To Eden Chip Gardening

We recently learned about the Back To Eden style of chip gardening. At our old homestead, we used a permaculture method in our huge gardens. We were lucky, though. We had chickens and 1.5 acres of grass mowed every week to add to our compost.  Then we would pile up the compost on all of our rows as a mulch/feeder for the plants.

Well, this new homestead isn’t such a place. We basically live on a gravel pit, not so good for gardening. A man named Paul, from Sequim, WA, not too far from us, has a farm called Back To Eden. You can google him and see his amazing gardens.  He uses wood chip gardening.  We have lots of maple, alder and fir trees that have fallen or need to be taken down for the south sun to shine on our garden. So, we bought a chipper that can go on our tractor! Now we have LOTS of wood chips.

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The basis is this: use an organic covering of wood chips over your native soil and, as they decompose, it will transform your garden area into rich, black soil.

On our property, we have many Big Leaf Maple trees as well as Alder trees. So we have lots of leaves in the fall, all of those leaves were blown into our garden area this last fall.  The many, many rocks in the area were raked up, but we never tilled, just got the surface rocks off. Then we applied the wood chips. This is our first garden year at the new place, and we planted late, so our garden isn’t up to par yet, but it will be fun to see and show you the progression. It’s a journey you know, homesteading and gardening doesn’t happen in a day!

Here are pictures of our old gardens, can’t wait for this to happen here!

And some advice from Paul Gautschi

Find a source of “covering” that is local and readily available to you. Be resourceful:

  • If you have local tree service companies, call them and ask for a delivery of wood chips.
  • If you have access to a chipper, chip yard waste on site.
  • If you have access to a tub grinder, it will save you a lot of time chipping.
  • If you have a lawn, collect your grass clippings.
  • If you have trees, gather its leaves.
  • If you have rocks, they will retain moisture and slowly release nutrients.
  • If you have weed free hay or straw, assemble a pile together.
  • If you receive or purchase a newspaper, save it.
  • Grow plants that can help provide an onsite resource for a “covering.”

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

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

If you are starting a new orchard or garden plot:

  • Dig out any tenacious weeds.
  • Call local resources such as Recycling Centers and ask for their expired newspapers or call Newspaper Companies and ask for their left over newspaper rolls.
  • Resist the temptation to work, mix, prepare or till your soil!
  • Cover it! Simply add layers!

If you already have an existing orchard or garden in place:

  • Resist the temptation to till your soil!
  • Simply cover the soil with a covering resource!
  • Paul Gautschi originally applied 3-4 inches of composted wood chips to his garden plot.
  • Paul Gautschi initially applied 12-16 inches of wood chips to his established orchard.


  1. For an ideal Back to Eden garden, apply 3-4 sheets of newspaper. 
  2. Then apply 3-4 inches of organic compost orcomposted manure. 
  3. Then an additional 2-4 inches of wood chips oralternative covering on top. 
  4. If you are implementing the methods in the Spring or Summer, additionally apply a dusting of composted manure for organic fertilizer. 

For an ideal Back to Eden garden, cover your garden in the Fall! If you look at creation, nature drops its needles and leaves in the Fall.

  • Note: *If you are using raw wood chips, allow time for them to break down (at least Fall – Winter). You will experience more work fertilizing with organic manure if you wait until the Spring or Summer to apply raw wood chips.
  • Note: *If you are using composted wood chips that have had time to decay, you may apply and plant in the compost immediately.
  • Note: *If you are using composted wood chips that have been screened, you may apply and plant in them immediately (Paul prefers this method for his home garden).

About carishumaker

We are trying to live The Good Life with our 3 kids out in the woods. We strive to be as self reliant as possible, with a great amount of leisure time to Live The Good Life as best as we can. We work hard so we can play hard and want to teach our kids to love life and love people and love learning. This is our journey.
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