Our garden paths - the quiet achievers

Our garden paths - the quiet achievers

This is a shout-out to one of our garden's quiet achievers - the paths. We don't give them enough credit for everything they do for our garden.

Every 3 or so years we top-up our paths with 150-200mm of untreated woodchip. We've made the paths 50cm wide, and that gives us enough clearance for the wheelbarrow when we're working in the garden, and to set down a vegetable crate while we're harvesting.

The woodchip paths help us achieve our goal of keeping much of our garden's soil covered. We aim for our garden to be like a forest floor, where there is no bare soil. In a forest there is forever a layer of leaves and twigs building on top of the ground to cover the soil. We do the same with our paths, we top up the paths from time to time so there is no bare soil between the beds. How does that help our crops?

In wet weather, the most obvious way the paths help is to keep our feet dry and clean. But also they keep the produce growing in the beds beside them clean. We don't have mud splattered onto leaves in heavy rain.

Something less obvious is that they act like a sponge. They absorb water and store it for later, when plant roots go out searching it's an extra reservoir for them to find.

And, over time, they compost down, partly becoming part of the bed beside them, and partly of the soil beneath them.

We can't waste time weeding here, there's only two of us to get all the tasks done. The woodchip layer is deep enough that weed seeds from below don't germinate. The odd weed seed still blows in and germinates on top of the paths - but they're super easy to pull out. Who wants to weed? Not us, that's for sure.

We're sure there are less slugs and snails because of the paths too. It means most of the garden beds are bordered by paths, not grass ... where the critters love to hide.

Often, fungi and little mushrooms will grow from the woodchips. This is a sign of a healthy environment, the woodchips are loaded up with fertile spores and helps us create a diverse growing environment.

And - lastly, I have to say it, the woodchip paths look really nice. Our goal is that our front paddock looks really nice when people drive in. It shows we have pride in our gardening.

Back in one of the big storms, our road got hit badly. Lots of the 'old man pines' along the roadside came down. Then something great happened, the tree guys clearing the road offered us the mulch produced from their tree clearing work. We were over the moon, the guys were happy to dump it into huge piles along our driveway, and we were able to top up our garden paths and create some new ones too.

Our paths, walked all over - but greatly appreciated!