Hugelkultur are a form of raised garden beds:
- grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization
- has been demonstrated to work in deserts as well as backyards
- use up rotting wood, twigs, branches and even whole trees that would otherwise go to the dump or be burned
- it is pretty much nothing more than buried wood
- can be flush with the ground, although raised garden beds are typically better
can start small, and be added to later
- can always be small – although bigger is better
- carbon sequestration in your own back yard!
- perfect for places that have had trees blown over by storms
- give a gift to your future self
Hugelkultur is nothing more than making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc.
As the years pass, the deep soil of your raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets – so your hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm your soil giving you a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water – and then refeeding that to your garden plants later. Plus, by holding SO much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation.
Known excellent woods are: alders, apple,cottonwood, poplar, willow (dry) and birch. Super rotten wood is better than slightly aged wood. The best woods are even better when they have been cut the same day, which allows for seeding of the wood with your choice of fungus, such as shitake mushrooms.
Another thing to keep in mind is that wood is high in carbon and will consume nitrogen to do the compost thing. This could lock up the nitrogen and take it away from your growies. But well rotted wood doesn’t do this so much. If the wood is far enough along, it may have already taken in sooooo much nitrogen, that it is now putting it out!
Building a Hugel Kultuur Raised Bed
Digging the square hole where the raised bed is to be built.
Collecting logs and ingredients to place into the bottom of the Hugel Kultuur Raised bed.
Sawing wooden sides for Hugel Kultuur raised bed.
Nailing / Screwing Wooden Sides together, and adding logs.
Finished Nailing/Screwing wooden box sides together, begin adding wooden logs, at bottom of box.
Adding other ingredients to the bottom of the Hugel Kultuur Raised bed: Guano / Pigeon poo, wooden shavings & used coffee grinds.
Buckets of ingredients to add to bottom of bed: Egg shells, guano poo & used coffee grinds.
Adding more wooden shavings, organic waste and grass cuttings.
Adding more grass cuttings and organic kitchen waste..
Adding soil on top of logs and other ingredients added to bottom of raised bed box.
Add more soil.
Adding more soil.
Filling soil into holes around outside of box & tidying up.
Finished Hugel Kultuur Raised Beds, ready for planting. Different Hugel Kultuur raised bed, made as above, except that it has temporary wooden box structure’s, kept in place with steel droppers, and plastic sheeting at the corners to prevent water from running out of the corners, which have not been nailed/screwed together tightly.