How to cultivate a garden without water with wood chips

The scorching heat of this summer certainly won't have helped our garden: the plants seemed to suffer and the water available was never enough. Water scarcity is not a factor to be underestimated, in this regard it is desirable to learn to deal with this problem in a tangible and concrete way, especially in areas where water resources are more scarce.

For this reason we would like to suggest an organic farming technique that consists in the use of fresh twig chips; For example, those who own an orchard will have a large amount of twigs available, which can be used to mulch or make compost rather than burn them as is common practice.

Even all the branches of wild trees and shrubs that are obtained from the periodic cleaning of embankments and ditches can be enhanced in this way: thanks to the wood chips (i.e. the chopped) of fresh twigs it will be possible to cultivate a garden almost without water.

What does the fresh branch wood chip technique consist of?
This technique is very popular in France; the French call it the BRF method, an acronym for Bois Rameaux Fragmentés, an ecological cultivation technique that saves water and energy.
The chopped twigs enrich the soil with organic matter, improving its structure and retaining water, which is why continuous irrigation is not necessary. Furthermore, once the technique has been started, the soil will not need to be constantly worked to keep it soft and even chemical fertilizers to be fertilized.

The terrain will improve in a short time; in some cases a season is already sufficient, where instead the fertility of the soil is more compromised, it will be necessary to wait a couple of years. Over time, the wood chips will create a good layer of humus, very rich in life, micro and macroorganisms, thanks to the action of fungi and bio-transformation processes.

How to cultivate a vegetable garden without water, how to proceed

  1. Since the wood chips in the first year absorb nitrogen from the soil, compromising the growth of vegetables, carry out the first draft of the chips in autumn with the addition of mature manure
  2. Immediately after, proceed to sow a winter green manure based on legumes which you will then bury at the end of the season
  3. Once this is done, you can sow your vegetables on this land, later making further mulching with straw, other wood chips or both. To learn more, we refer you to reading the articleMulching material.

If you repeat this technique for several years, even the most difficult soil will turn into rich and productive loam.

How to cultivate a vegetable garden without water, the consociation
To further reduce the water requirement it is good to pay attention to the intercropping of vegetables, for example you can often combine corn, pumpkin and beans: in this case the pumpkin, intersecting between the corn and bean plants, will shade the ground. Result? The soil will be moist for longer, thus helping the other two crops that are water-demanding. For further information on the subject, we recommend reading the article "Association of vegetables".

Other useful recommendations to reduce garden watering?

  • Sow almost exclusively old and forgotten vegetables: they have reduced water requirements compared to modern varieties
  • Use a drip system to be programmed at night to maximize root absorption
  • Organize the vegetable garden perpendicular to the slope lines of the land
  • Sow rows of plants that act as windbreaks to limit leaf evaporation

If you want to know more about the practice of the BRF, you can buy the book "The garden without water. Growing organic with wood chips to save water… ”by Jacky Dupety. The author tells in a clear and complete way how to apply the wood chips in your garden and the various experiments that have demonstrated not only ecological but also economic validity.

To get an idea of ​​the cost and where to buy it, I refer you to the Amazon page: "The garden without water. Growing bio with wood chips to save water, oil and work “. To find out about the most virtuous uses of wood chips on the page "Wood chips: recommended uses"