I’ve written on a few occasions of Back to Eden style gardening. Back in October my Dad and I made a pilgrimage to the Sequim, Washington in the Olympic Peninsula to meet the man who started it all and see his own gardens: Paul Gautschi.
I edited together a short highlight reel that captures the essence of our visit, complete with amazing edibles and Paul’s unique wit and wisdom:
The trip was unforgettable. From the moment we arrived Paul welcomed us into his gardens, offering perfectly ripened fresh fruits and vegetables for the tasting. All the while Paul described his gardening journey, declaring God’s handiwork in every step. I would call it bragging on God. “Taste and see!” Paul would tell us, referring to the Bible passage “Taste and see the Lord is good.” -Psalm 34:8
Every Sunday from April through September strangers from all over the world show up at Paul’s 1/2-acre garden to see with their own eyes and taste with their own mouths the incredible bounty of his gardens. And Paul is not ashamed to share the secret of his success. For two hours or more on his garden tours, Paul preaches about the goodness of God.
Despite the hordes that descend on his property weekly to sample his fare, he still has more food than his family can eat. “My biggest problem is abundance!” Paul would often say.
The pear I’m holding above was literally a meal. I felt full after eating it, which kind of bummed me out because I wanted to keep eating! Paul explained I felt full because I was eating live food. Fruit starts losing nutritive value the moment its plucked from the tree. When you eat live food, you’re body is absorbing the maximum quantity of nutrients, minerals, and water-soluble fiber.
Because of the deep-mulch wood-chip gardening Paul uses, his orchards are so healthy and loaded with fruit the branches bow down to the ground. “You can’t prune a tree to do that,” Paul said.
The soil is so healthy he can grow many vegetables in full shade under the tree canopies. Turns out most vegetables do not need full sun — they need good soil!
Besides abundant fruit trees, what’s the big deal about Back to Eden gardening? Tasting is believing. It’s hard to explain flavors I’ve never tasted before. The best I can do here is show you some pictures.
In this next picture you’ll see lavender growing next to a blueberry shrub. As anyone who has grown blueberries knows, they require highly acidic soil. They will absolutely not survive in high pH environments. Yet in Paul’s garden they thrive high-pH plants next to low-pH plants.
Same thing with Sage and Wasabi. This shouldn’t be possible, but there it is!
While Paul started with woodchips, he now grows all his own chicken food (they eat mostly kale and other garden scraps). His chickens turn garden and lawn waste into nitrogen-rich compost which Paul uses for a Fall fertilizing each year.
When I say visiting Paul’s garden was a spiritual experience, I’m not exaggerating. Paul does not separate the things of God from the things God made. Within a few minutes of arriving, tears welled up in our eyes as Paul talked about Heaven. During the tour you come to realize that Paul’s relationship with his heavenly Father is the real miracle and it leaves you hungering for a deeper spiritual walk yourself. Upon returning, my dad wrote this about our experience:
My mind and soul continue to reverberate in the aftermath of our time with Paul last Sunday. He is the epitome of God’s working in the lives of a person. Here is a man whose body has been ravaged by agent orange during the Vietnam war and yet exudes the loving grace of God beyond anything I have seen. The real benefit to people who come in contact with him is the potential of another changed life coming into alignment with the God of the Universe. The garden is only a byproduct used as a tool to bring people to Him. Maybe not intentionally but that is what’s happening. Wow! Thanks for introducing me to him! That time will forever be a pearl in my life!
Here is just one of many conversations we had about the goodness of God:
I’ve never been to Paul Gautschis garden but iam blown at how people look when they experiment his food. Can you put it in words, please?
Francisco, thanks for asking. Yes, it is like every food is more flavorful. It still tastes like the original food, just more, richer flavor. For example, the arugula lettuce is almost spicy. Normally it has a bitter flavor, but in Paul’s garden it is not bitter but spicy. Also, the food has much more water content. The apples and pears drip all over as you try to eat them.
Loved reading this. My husband and I are visiting Paul’s garden this upcoming June. Just bought our plane tickets! I’m so excited as I want to start a small organic market farm in the immediate future. I’ve watched every single garden tour on YouTube and am in awe of his relationship with God. Thanks for posting.
Amen! As Paul says “taste and see!” I hope to visit Paul again someday, but also look forward to recreating the same here (we just tripled our garden beds last fall, and mulched).
I have been doing the Back To Eden Method for a little over a year now…with great results. I agree that good soil is the key. Could you answer a question?…how often does Paul put the compost from his chicken pen on any given spot . Meaning I do not want to over do it, but how often should a particular spot be covered with the compost from the chickens…say in a year. Thanks for the great write up on Paul’s garden.
Paul only covers his garden with compost once a year, in the fall (following nature’s cycle). He said that if he does this in the spring his garden is full of weeds.
The Lord led me to him also and this so called “gardening method.” !!
He Revealed to me in prayer that t it was true what i was seeing ( in what Paul was doing) and that the biggest part of it all was that a man asked of God.
That was the biggest thing ! !
That is what the Lord revealed to me after watching several of his tours and “Back To Eden”, The Official Film.
And so i continue myself to ask God in all things, and for Him to reveal truth to me, the path to take and how to do everything, and more. That is what Paul told us and teaches the most- along with scripture.
And Paul tells of the revelations God speaks to him too for us to know and see. It truly is for all us believers ( and anyone else whom wishes to believe) so just as Paul says ” just ask God !”
Yes, my life has been changed too, dorever, by meeting Paul Gautschi, as the author here testified. It was from and by the Lord of coures- and done through this man here, as the Lord led me to him and how to grow my food and so much more. (We are being made new, being born again, by the word of truth, and so much more from glory to glory!…) By God, in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Its wonderful how God uses people, and us all if we get about Him, and out of us and the world, if we ask and come to Him, to reveal himself and His truths in this life and heaven too
So i continue in my garden and journey to health in these ways God showed this man, and now me. I shall continue, and continue to ask and receive more, thank you Father, amen. Its wonderful and I am very thankful for it all. Thank you for the wonderful article here you wrote and shared with us all. May God bless you all.
> We have recently purchased a small farm that has about 1/2 acre garden that has not been used in
> several years. The space is over grown with grass and weeds. What is the best way to get rid of the
> grass and weeds? We plan to mow it very short and then till it to expose the roots to kill them.
> But, after watching Back to Eden, that does not look like the best plan. Can you please tell me
> what is my best option?
Half-acre is a pretty big garden plot (roughly 150ft x 150ft). Unless you know you need that much space, my recommendation would be to “re-claim” the area with B2E gardening methods gradually, and leave the rest of it as mown grass until you need the space. For example, you could start with 50×50 the first year (which can grow a lot of food), and then expand a bit each year. Keep in mind that your B2E garden will be more productive over time as the wood chips break down, so you don’t need as much space to grow food. There is also the problem of finding enough material to cover the area 4 inches deep with wood chips. If you calculate one half-acre at 4-inches deep, that is about 270 cubic yards of wood chips! (18 dump-truck loads)
Whichever size you choose, I like using rolls of painter’s drop-cloth paper (sometimes called builder’s paper) to cover the grass/weeds before layering woodchips on top. It’s thick and easy to work with. Make sure to get the plain paper kind and nothing with added chemicals. Painters paper is the same thing as biodegradeable landscaping paper, but at a fraction of the cost. It’s like $10 for a 100-ft roll, 3-ft wide. We also use plastic to cover weedy patches that spring up inside of our B2E garden, if it’s gotten out of our ability to manage by hand.
Godspeed! Let us know how it goes.
LOVED YOUR FILM. Watched it twice and sent the information to others that are gardeners too!
I live in the north of Seattle and I’ve been using wood chips for about 10 years. I sing their praises to anyone who listens. But I’m wondering if you know of good place near here that offers other types of compose with maybe some manures??
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Could you give ways to find places to go? Questions to ask??
In one YouTube, I noticed that Paul Gautschi grows tomatoes in pots. Why not in the ground? Also, what does he use for soil in the pots?