Homesteader Guilt: Tilling My No-Till Garden

I caved. And here’s my confession:

I’m about to till my no-dig garden.

Backstory: I wept the first time I watched the Back to Eden Film with Paul Gautschi. Wept. Because I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of his garden and the connectedness he had to God the Father through His creation. Beautiful.

So from 2015, I started building back to Eden gardens at our rental house in containers, and off the back patio using newspaper, and rabbit leavings. I was AMAZED at the results. No weeds, FLOURISHING tomato plants, and very little upkeep on my end.

Then, in 2019, I had just had our Baby Bear 3 days prior to the new year. So 2020-2021was heavy into responsibility for me with a newborn, and goat AI breeding, and we added barn cats, our buckling Fonso, and our Silver Fox buck, Helmer. Lots of busy.

Add to that the fact that my husband is in the home stretch of seminary (3 more weeks!!!) So he has been swamped, and he’s had extra preaching responsibilities when our pastor and worship staff all got covid, he hasn’t had the time, let alone the energy to help out with the heavy lifting stuff like shoveling wood chips.

Allium/brassicas bed before

So the wood chips of several of our terrace beds had completely composted into gorgeous topsoil. Paul Gautschi at this stage adds sifted compost to his garden and plants directly into that. Well… That takes time. And not having a baby demanding your time and attention. So- it just didn’t get done, folks.

I will always put my kids ahead of my to do lists. And because I’m making a conscious effort to put people before things, things sometimes get left until later. And sometimes, that means I’m in a time crunch.

So that’s why I’m about to till the soil in my no-till garden. I have a wonderful, beautiful inside and out friend who is letting us use their tiller to take care of things and I promise I’m only turning the top 2 inches of soil to get rid of the dense weeds that have taken over. After we plant, I will cover/mulch with woodchips, God willing, and not have to worry about it again for a while.

Sometimes, pragmatism wins the day and you do what you have to do. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel homesteader guilt like a hot lead ball in my gut. I’m supposed to be a back to Eden proponent! What about the delicate soil biome!? This is supposed to be a no-dig garden!! What have I done!? This is contrary to everything I stand for! WHO AM I!?!?!?

I’m a wife to a full time pastor and full time student. I’m mom of 4 homeschooled kids with 3 goats, 2 of which are pregnant and due within the next 3 days, 2 neurotic border collies that for some reason picked this month to unlearn potty training, 2 rabbits who need care, and 13 10 chickens, and 2,000sq ft of gardens to upkeep.

I can’t do it all. And accepting that has been hard. But I realized that thinking I can do it all is a form of idolatry- thinking I am self-sufficient, self-sustaining, self-whatever. And I’m not. Only God is those things. So I had to humble myself and ask Him to show me what to let go of, how to work with the limited time and resources I have, and how to let go of pride enough to accept help and admit when I am overcommitted.

Allium/brassicas bed after

That has been really liberating. Difficult, but ultimately liberating. To paraphrase Jen Wilkin, in None Like Him, “I am because He is… Only God can say I AM who I AM.”

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