So my boyfriend just bought a house and it came with this dinky little glasshouse.Over the past couple of days I have been scavenging all the organic matter I could from around the property to make some nice hugelkultur-themed raised beds that will hopefully be functional and productive.
1. Harvested old bricks to build the walls.
2. Raided the kindling box for pinecones and small sticks.
3. Layered all the cardboard we had in the house for unpacking.
4. More kindling.
5. Added compost from the pile that was in varying stages of decomposition. Did a bit of weeding and chucked those in.
6. Began dismantling an ugly old camellia that was blocking the drive and added those bits plus some soil I stole from an outside bed.
7. Pruned a kowhai (native leguminous tree) and piled on the trimmings. Added another layer of bricks with gaps.
8. Discovered a bin full of two years’ worth of fallen leaves. On they went. Planted strawberries in the gaps in the walls.
9. Found a deep litter of needles under the one massive pine tree. Covered this with a generous sprinkling of lime to balance the p.H. and add calcium.
10. Finished it off with a thick layer of more soil borrowed from the tired old outdoors raised beds. Planted it with a first crop of salad greens and broad beans to help improve and stabilise the soil in preparation for summer when I will be planting tomatoes, basil, capsicums, chillis and aubergines. Dobby the kitten approves.
I built another Hugelkultur on the very top of the property I work on. I could have gathered more wood but meh it will do for now, this is really just to demonstrate the concept to the farmer I work for.
I can’t believe I did that all in a few hours - goes to show you that if you’re passionate about something it doesn’t matter how large a task is, your passion will see you through it.
The growth we’re seeing out of the bales is great. The peppers and eggplant have started to flower, the ground cherries are growing fruit, and the beans and peas are over two feet tall. We planted the bales around May 1st so it’s great to be ahead on these crops.
Today we will plant an assortment of overgrown starts into Rising’s most recently created raised bed; it’s a hugelkultur bed with bale and log boundaries. The bales will be conditioned and planted into too.
Are you familiar with Hugelkltur mounds? If not, you should be. Now that the rains have started again instead of creating a mound and raising how high my hops will be growing I’m going to instead dig a trench and make a lowered Hugelkultur bed.
It’s important to do this when the rains start so that the wood has adequate water exposure to break down before you planting season. Do not use wood chips, you want natural uneven decomposition. I like starting with big branches and moving to smaller ones near the top. Then I layer green matter, it could be grass clippings, leaves, or in this case I’m going to use sunflower stalks. Then I’m going to cover the trench with dirt.
Depending on how large your branches are you might not see any better production the first year and will probably have to supplement soil treatments however years 2-4 you will have some of the best soil. My pickles, tomatoes, peas, onions and corn all did amazing on my bed this year.
I’m really hoping to see these work wonders on my hops in the future and am super excited about implementing more of these throughout our yard.
Started work on a plot I’m going to take at the Sebastopol Laguna park community garden.
I did not know what I was getting into when I decided to claim the sunny bed near the water and compost piles. I thought there would be some effort to remove (and pot up) the oak trees. I was mistaken to think that this was the crux of preparing bed 7.
The previous gardener left me many buried treasures including several clay tiles, terra cotta pots, stumps and a manhole cover. I get that they were making a hugel bed and used the buried pots to assist with watering, but did they really need to chain the logs to a manhole cover?
After three hours the work was done. All logs and pots out of the bed, trees potted up.
It is now in need of more soil, compost, manure, and then planting.
We worked in the garden too. All the goat poo we cleaned up went into the middle hugel bed that we finished today. It’s where the corn was. Now we have 3 set up. See the last picture? The clover is really taking off on that one. Can’t wait to fill up our beds with FOOD next year! We have so much more room now.
The practice of making raised garden beds filled with rotting wood. It is in effect creating a Nurse log, however, covered with dirt.
Benefits of hügelkultur garden beds include water retention and warming of soil.Buried wood becomes like a sponge as it decomposes, able to capture water and store it for later use by crops planted on top of the hugelkultur bed.
The buried decomposing wood will also give off heat, as all compost does, for several years. These effects have been used by Sepp Holzer for one to allow fruit trees to survive at otherwise inhospitable temperatures and altitudes.
Josef “Sepp” Holzer …
is a farmer, author, and an international consultant for natural agriculture, he took over his parents’ mountain farm business in 1962 and pioneered the use of ecological farming, or permaculture, techniques at high altitudes (1100 to 1500 meters above sea level) after being unsuccessful with regular farming methods.
Holzer was called the “rebel farmer” because he persisted, despite being fined and even threatened with prison, with practices such as not pruning his fruit trees (unpruned fruit trees survive snow loads that will break pruned trees).He has created some of the world’s best examples of using ponds as reflectors to increase solar gain for Passive solar heating of structures, and of using the microclimate created by rock outcrops to effectively change the hardiness zone for nearby plants. He has also did original work in the use of Hugelkultur and natural branch development instead of pruning to allow fruit trees to survive high altitudes and harsh winters.
We’re building a hugekultur bed! We’ve got a huge drainage issue at the bottom of this hill and we also needed a raised bed for some of our crops this year. So, we’re trying our hand at hugelkultur. We used a laser level to mark the bed outline and went to work. These pictures represent 8-hours of hard work, digging through compacted GA red clay and some rock. This weekend we’ll begin piling logs into the bed and see how far we get. Updates coming soon!