When converting a wild “jungle” of trees and weeds into a proper fruit and vegetable source, you come across a huge amount of biomass. Rotten materials, branches, grass cuttings… the list is long. Obviously we used the branches and cut trees directly to build fences and climbing support for our plants and the leaves from he ground as mulch, but there was still so much more, so we made a Hugelkultur bed. It’s basically a raised bed with great features. This supplies long-term nutrients for our veggies and we got rid of all those branches in a smart way.
I have to say, this was not our first Hugelkultur project.We have been building one on “Granja Val Chustina” a permaculture project in Spain, we visited last winter, so for us it was only a matter of time until we build one in our new garden.
So, step by step!
First you have to dig a trench from about 20 cm deep. Ours are just about 10 cm deep because I was lazy and we have enough earth from digging the small pond. Keep the earth you dug up aside, you will need it later to cover your raised bed.
Then comes the fun part! You fill that hole with tree logs and thick branches. it would be great if you also have access to hardwood since it will break down slower it will give long-term nutrients to your plants. Keep in mind that already rotten materials will break down very fast in your bed, which creates great earth but that also means you will lose some height , you will figure it out 😉 Collect big branches and twigs of whatever kind you have. Although I heard not to use Pine too much because they contain toxins that wouldn’t be beneficial to your veggies. After you have a solid layer of branches and twigs you feel free to add any other kind of biomass you have handy, such as eggshells for calcium supply or manure. Sepp Holzer recommends to make the raised beds very high so you maximize your surface ground. This I found out after making ours so with the next one I will try to make it higher. I decided to make a border around it and after the second Hugelkulture bed I also gave it three different levels so the planting is easier and I have a better overview of veggies.
Once you have reached the height you want, you through earth on it and adjust if needed here and there. Finished is the structure of your new Hugelkultur bed 🙂
Now you can start planting our your veggies and if possible a fruit tree close by so it can also profit from all those nutrients your Hugel gives to the ground.
There are so many benefits from creating a raised bed like this. The wood inside will , like a sponge, hold moisture during rainy times and releases when dry so it saves you the watering. If you have only limited space it can help you to get more surface to grow things and improve your soil. Beside all that, you will have it easy with the veggies since they have a constant supply of nutrients from underneath. These hills also store heat inside so you will be able to harvest fresh salads and radish until winter breaks in. Some even talk about harvesting fresh root vegetables from the Hugelkultur all year round.
Has anybody of you also created a Hugelkultur bed or something alike? Or are you planning to do one after reading this article ? 🙂
Check out our facebook page as well and leave us a comment if you like 🙂
Also visit our friends from “Granja Val Chustina”