My family and I are relatively new to vegetable gardening. I do not come by gardening “naturally,” although we’ve been blessed the last several years to live on a property with very good soil. So finally having some success with raising veggies, we thought we’d venture out and try something different this year. Enter the hugelkultur.
A little "weedy" after the rain...the empty spot is
where the lettuce was supposed to go
A hugelkultur is basically permaculture, lasagna gardening and rotting wood all rolled into one. This is how we built ours:
1. Lay old chicken feed bags on the ground, covering your garden area (no need to till the ground or pull up grass),
2. Pile old trees and branches down the middle of the feed bags to begin forming your mound, stretching the length of your garden (this will form the structure of your mound), and
3. Build out the mound by alternating soil, compost and hay until your mound is the desired height.
There are various ways of building a hugelkultur, so for a more clever, more professional and more knowledgable explanation, I suggest you visit the following site: http://www.localharvest.org/blog/50346/entry/hugelkultur_on_a_micro_farm.
There were so many “pro’s” to gardening via hugelkultur, that my husband is sold and wants all of our future vegetable gardens to be “hugels.” I’m also sold, since I’m the one who spends the most time tending it. These are the things I LOVE about it:
v Building and seeding it was much quicker than putting in a traditional garden with rows,
v There is FAR less weeding and not as much stooping when you do need to weed,
v As the wood rots and breaks down within the mound, it releases nitrogen into the soil, making the plants VERY happy,
v The mound is excellent at retaining moisture, meaning considerably less watering, even in
v The mound will continue to thrive up to 20 years if you continue to add branches, soil, compost and mulch each year,
v It can be built up to 6 feet tall, resulting in high-density (and smaller) gardens, and
v It’s fun to watch the chickens run up and down the hill looking for bugs.
All in all, our season with the hugelkultur has been very rewarding, and I highly recommend it.