What is Hugelkultur (Hoo-gul-culture) and why consider this method? In a nutshell, think of gardening on a “hill or mound”. This method is basically the creation of raised garden beds build on decomposing wood so that your bed is full of organic rich material and nutrients, air and moisture. This is a great growing method for fruit, vegetables and herbs. Make a Hugelkultur bed, small scale and test it out. Feeding and watering efforts and expenses literally come to an end for years.
- Due to decomposition, you will find the soil will be warmer and thus your growing seasons will be longer. The wood content will hold on to nutrients and moisture and it is a win-win situation that is ideal for growers dealing with extreme temperatures and drought.
- Although it is quite a bit of work to set it, you will find it much less work in successive years. Irrigation and fertilization will not be needed from year 2 onward.
How to make a Hugelkultur bed:
Again, we are trying to copy nature. When a tree falls in a forest, it will in time get buried with foliage, animal manure and other. Soon you will see the right kind of Fungi move into the log to begin the process of breaking it down, followed by bugs tunneling through the wood. Plants will have plenty of moisture, nutrients, warmth and protection from the wrong kind of fungi and microbes. That is because of the presence of beneficial fungi and microbes and how a safe growing space is created. By building a hugelkultur bed, you mimic this process and if you cover the wood with soil, compost and mulch, you will speed it up and creating an ideal growing place.
- Place the largest pieces of wood on the ground where you want your bed to be.
- Add soil, manure or compost on top so that all the openings are filled. This is an important point. These open areas cause drying out and by filling all the cracks between the wood, you are ensured a wonderful environment for your plants.
- Add more wood and continue the layering pattern.
- Make sure you end the bed off with a nice 10 – 15cm (about 5 inches) thick layer of soil to plant into.
- Finally add a 5cm (2 inches) thick layer of mulch such as leaves or wood chips.
Please send us your pictures, challenges and success stories so that we can all learn together!