Hugelkultur is a method of building a garden bed that is consistent with permaculture principles in that it uses natural materials that you may have around your yard and will hold in moisture so less watering is needed.
At my gardening class the teacher has a large hugelkultur bed that was built last year. When Saskia first mentioned it I looked it up and wanted to make one, at least a small one, just to test it out. This one is about sixteen by twelve or so, just enough room for two plants if I squish them in a little.
Since I haven’t officially “learned” this method in a class yet I tried searching around online for some good step-by-step instructions online but didn’t find much. Basically, it’s like sheet mulching except uses wood waste as the primary component of the bed. From walks through the woods most of us have noticed that rotting wood creates rich soil. I found a fun post from Northwest Edible Life that pretty much assured me I didn’t need to stress out about the components.
I added a little cardboard to help suppress the grass. This area is just to the right of a couple of new blueberry plants, hence the straw mulch to the left.
Then, I piled up some rotting logs that have been sitting around the yard for, oh 10+ years.
Then I decided to clean up the lilac branches I had just left on the grass last week by folding them and stuffing them in the cracks between the logs.
This next lovely scene shows the addition of the food and straw waste from the chickens. There’s not much manure in this so the nitrogen content won’t be too high.
I turned a little bit of loose sod upside down on the top. I may regret this later.
I added clean straw to the top. The straw will definitely help retain moisture.
To the very top I added finished compost mixed with a little bit of extra potting soil.
I planted two broccoli plants (and some more in the ground in front of the blueberries) and then covered the whole mess with some row cover. The row cover edges are buried using bark mulch to prevent bugs from getting in. The row cover will help with pests and keep the little seedlings warm since it is still pretty cool up here.
More resources? Sure!
raised garden beds: hugelkultur instead of irrigation
Hugelkultur: Using Woody Waste in Composting