Original Fast Foods

Home of the Food Bowl Solution!

By Kisi Watkins

Introduction by Jim Simmons

A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me a video link on Youtube. I watched the whole thing and could not stop. I even called Colleen in to watch it with me as our "date night." We then posted the video on this website, but it was soon removed from Youtube. Now mind you, my major during University studies was Soil Science. I chose as my end-of-year presentation to the School of Agriculture's faculty and to my student peers, to present the benefits of no-till agriculture, which was in its' infancy and was just beginning to show signs that perhaps we were missing the boat in the U.S. when it comes to sustainable methods of agriculture. I loved studying this budding science.

My friend who introduced us to the video wrote up a very help article that I refer to you now, which summarizes much of what is demonstrated in the video, plus she has included a link that will not be taken down if you want to watch this video, which I highly recommend. It is a perfect demonstration of the promise I felt back in college as I studied this important subject. Thank you Kisi for sharing with us!

If you would like a pdf copy of the following summary article, then look into the right column under "Helpful Downloads" and click on Gardening God's Way. This will open up an electronic version of this document that you can save to your own computer.

Gardening God's Way

About a week ago I discovered an online video that is changing my life, and so I forwarded it to everyone --maybe even YOU!!  It's called "Back to Eden" and is about "no-till gardening".  A man named Paul up in Washington state discovered, with Heavenly Father's help and direction, that if you always keep a cover on your soil, a mulch like leaves or wood chips, namely something natural that can break down over time and become compost, your soil will go from being clay, rock, and hardpan to being wonderfully aerated, loamy, and nutritious soil.  When we till it, we wreck the eco-system that the soil is making, and we have to keep re-tilling it and adding fertilizers, more compost, watering, rotating crops, and worrying about pH, etc.  But when we keep a mulch on the soil and just add to that over the top as needed every few years, we don't have to worry about any of those things.  And as the mulch breaks down, the rain and any watering we end up needing to do washes nutrients into the developing soil like a compost tea.

Here's what happened with Paul in Washington.  First he noticed that although his soil was total clay and rocks in one place and 80% rocks in another place, all around his property were tons of huge and beautiful pine trees growing with no tilling or fertilizing or watering by him or help from him of any kind.  And at the base of those trees and all around them was thick and luscious soil with a covering of needles, leaves, and wood chips.  He prayed, and what he got from Heavenly Father was essentially this:  In the old days, we harnessed oxen with a yoke to plow/till the soil, but the Savior tells us:  

  • Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matt. 11:29-30)
  • For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  (Is. 55:9)
  • Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (Matt. 11:28)

So seeing how God had set things up to succeed with little or no work, Paul began to copy what God was doing in his own garden.  At first he used hay and sheep manure for his covering and then later discovered that wood chips with a good mix of needles and leaves (from tree service companies) worked the best.  Before he did any of this, his soil was so hard that he couldn't break it up with a pick.  But after doing this he developed lush and nutritious soil, and his garden is more beautiful than any I have ever seen.  He threw away his tiller and only uses a rake now.  Gardening has become a pleasure with minimal but pleasant effort.

Of course, it takes time for the cover (the mulch) to break down and become wonderful soil, but you can speed this up and be able to plant immediately by first laying down 2"-3" of fully composted compost.  BUT DON'T DIG IT IN!  Here's what you do (and you can even do this on top of grass without using a grass-killing chemical).

  1. First, pull or dig out any significant problem weeds.  If you're doing this on top of grass, lay down newspaper sheets, 6 sheets thick, overlapping them enough that there are no cracks for the grass to grow through.  This and the other layers of compost and mulch you're going to put on top of this will kill the grass with no chemicals needed, and the grass will break down into soil over time.
  2. Second, cover the ground or newspaper with 2"-3" of fully-composted compost.  If you use compost that is still in the process of breaking down, all the nitrogen will be tied up for this process and unavailable to your new garden plants.
  3. Third, lay 3"-4" of whatever mulch you find handy:  wood chips work best, but leaves, grass, hay, whatever!  Do an initial watering so that the mulch can absorb water and the underlying layer of compost will be moist for the germination of your seeds.
  4. Fourth, when you're ready to plant your seeds, move the mulch aside and be sure to plant the seeds in the bottom compost layer.  Wait until your plants come up a few inches before you carefully move the mulch back around them.

In Utah we'll probably have to water some, but not as much as we've been doing.  Where Paul lives in Washington, they actually get less rainfall annually than we do in Provo (they get about 16" and we get about 20" of rainfall per year), but it's not as hot.  He hardly ever waters at all.  And he has not had to water his fruit orchards in 31 years.  

Over time as the wood chips break down, they feed the soil more fertilizer like a compost tea, and without our having to do any work.  Paul shows us how it works, and I've never seen a more lush garden. He says he never has to worry about pH or rotating crops or tilling or fertilizing and does very minimal watering, if any.  And his gardens and produce get better every year.  The soil is getting better every year!

Here's the link to watch the movie about this -- it's a full-length movie!!  1 hr. 43 min. long, and worth every second -- and makes a great date night! You will understand much more from watching it than from what I've written.


Go there and click on the link that says "Watch 'Back to Eden' Film".

If you're not motivated enough, watch this 3 min. trailer of the movie and you'll become motivated!!


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Thanks Kisi, this is spectacular and deserves two thumbs up. 


For Utah Country residents, Timpanogas Special Service District is offering a 2 for 1 half-price special for compost through April 30 for just $10 per yard. It has been screened and composted for several months already and has been turned several times during the past six months. If you are interested, call 801-756-5231 or go directly to the site Wednesday through Friday 7:00 am to 5:00 pm or Saturday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. You cannot show up late, but have to be out the door by closing time.

The following comments are from those who have already seen the video:

Comment by Erin Papa on March 23, 2012 at 6:57pm

Brother Simmons,

You never disappoint :) Love your site! Just when I think I can't get anymore excited you post something that is new to me. Love this video. I have read soooo many gardening books and felt something was missing. This is it! The Lord is teaching me line upon line... grateful for his tender mercies. Thanks for all you and your wife do. -Erin

Comment by James Simmons on March 23, 2012 at 8:33pm

Thank you Erin. A friend sent this video to me and I am also tremendously inspired by it. It really is an important piece to consider how nature does things wherever man has allowed it to do its work unimpeded by man. It is right there teaching us the true pattern of things. Thank you for your kind comments!

Comment by Verena Lenhart on March 23, 2012 at 11:47pm

This is fabulous!  Do you think it will work as well in our dry Utah climate?

Comment by Terry Hill on March 24, 2012 at 12:17am

Awesome!  I've walked away from my garden for all those typical garden techniques that make gardening so frustrating.  I can't wait to get back in the garden and follow His simple plan.  Thank you.

Comment by James L baxter on March 24, 2012 at 7:40am

I'm not getting the video for Back to Eden gardening. The other videos I try are working. What might be the problem?


Comment by James Simmons on March 24, 2012 at 8:12am

A lot of techniques work to produce food. What is unique to this presentation is the idea of mirroring nature's approach to creating a sustainable permaculture and a method that continually renews the soil. In our soil science classes years ago at BYU each student had to do an end-of-semester presentation in front of students and faculty. Mine was no-till agriculture. This video is the best example I've seen of creating sustainability in our soils and of naturally solving the myriad issues that we must deal with in soil, crop, and pest management. The notion that God's ways are free and renewing and easy, versus what we see today that is just the opposite. I've produced food using many of today's popular methods, but this one I know is worth mastering. I know this before even trying it for the first time. It is simply sound, yet I'm sure there is a learning curve and like the man says, the longer you do it the greater the results because of the permaculture that is established.

Comment by James Simmons on March 24, 2012 at 8:28am

Verena, it will work, if done properly. Rather than till the soil, with this method the soil is protected sufficiently that it becomes soft and as this mulch decomposes over time it continually feeds the soil beneath and becomes a part of it. With moisture retention beneath, good aeration, and a friendly ecosystem for friendly flora and fauna, this is extraordinary. Every area in the country has different water fall each year, but this is still the system you find if you go up into our forests here. This is how nature has always done it. What he is suggesting is that we learn from nature because God has given us the pattern already and we need to learn God's ways. Brigham Young encouraged the study nature carefully because he taught, it mirrored the pattern of heaven more closely than anything else we can study. This system, including the role the chickens play is just awesome.

Comment by Verena Lenhart on March 24, 2012 at 8:43am

Thank you so much Jim for all that you do!  I am thrilled to have been enlightened to this pure and simple method! So do you think that just a little water right after planting will be all that is necessary?

Comment by James Simmons on March 24, 2012 at 11:36am

Depends upon the mulch you use and how broken down it is. It takes time to establish the host of living micro-organisms and micro-flora that enables the results show in this video, just as it takes time to establish a kitchen that is ideal for making naturally leavened bread. For example, when we began making bread it was difficult to get our bread to turn out right, but after awhile, spores of the friendly bacteria are on the kitchen counters and even in the air. The sourdough starter matures and seasons and after a few months you cannot get the bread-making wrong, even if you were to want to. The family who has done two of these gardens learned valuable lessons doing the first garden that they then integrated into the second garden. The mixture used to create the second mulch enabled it to be further along more quickly, and the fact that they planted seeds at the soil level, rather than just in the mulch that was not fully established yet as a vibrant permaculture, also enabled the process more quickly. Each year as the populations of friendly bacteria further swell within the mulch, the decay of the mulch happens more swiftly, leading to wonderful nutrient availability right within the mulch itself, until it actually becomes soil with all the right constituents. Watch carefully what the family did on their second go around doing this and follow that pattern. As for the water, you can always put your hand down through the mulch to determine the condition of the mulch and the soil where the root systems will be established. If they are too dry, water them. Overtime as the permaculture matures, less and less water loss will occur due to evaporation and more water will be retained in the mulch/soil.

Comment by FamOlson on March 24, 2012 at 7:22pm

I would love to do this! How can we get the materials that we need? Does anyone have some ideas for resources in Utah County?

I also watched this video when it came out and loved it! Thanks so much for doing this "recap." I don't live in Utah but I wanted to let any of the members that live in Maricopa County, Arizona that there is a wonderful place to get compost called Singh's Farm. We buy a truckload twice a year (we get to have two growing seasons here-yay!) It is beautiful and I love the smell of it!  It is located off the 101 freeway and Thomas-right by the Indian Reservation.  People who live in this area will know what I am talking about. :) Thanks for the link to the video too! Oh-I forgot to mention that they charge $75 for a whole truckload.

I was actually looking at that website tonight, and one concern I have about using bio-waste compost is while I feel fairly confident that the temps kill any pathogens, what about the pharmaceuticals?

That is probably a good question for the Timpanogas Special Service District. 

mamagrow said:

I was actually looking at that website tonight, and one concern I have about using bio-waste compost is while I feel fairly confident that the temps kill any pathogens, what about the pharmaceuticals?

I have to ask... Are gardening like this at your place Jim?

No Linda; I've not gardened since coming back to Utah.  

Linda Black said:

I have to ask... Are gardening like this at your place Jim?

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