Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hugelkultur garden, a mounded garden bed approach


Saturday, January 2, 2016

I just read about this type of garden in a recent Urban Farm magazine.  It is an ancient form of sheet mulching from Eastern Europe.  With this type of raised bed garden, you don’t even need to water.    Hugelkultur is German and means “mound culture.”  It is great way to use fallen trees and brush.

Basically, you build a mound out of logs and brush as high as you would like.  You can dig it in a foot or just lay them right on top of the ground.  Start with the biggest logs you have.  You can build the pile 1-2’ of logs and brush.  Then, stomp on it.  Then add leaves, the sod you cleared for the hugel garden, compost, garden waste, manure, and dirt, making a mounded heap with about 45 degree sides.

The taller the mound, the less the need for irrigation.  Some are over 6 feet tall!

As the logs and brush decompose, they create little pockets and organic matter; tilling and fertilizing themselves.  The garden fertility improves over time and the need to irrigate reduces over time.  You can plant in it the first year, but you will see improved results over time.  To help it along, plant legumes as they are nitrogen fixers.  Peas or fava beans in the spring or fall and green beans in the summer.

The best would be to prepare the hugel garden in the fall so it will be ready for spring planting.  Another way to get a jump start would be to use new wood on the bottom and well rotted wood on the top layer.


You can edge the garden with logs, stones or nothing at all.

There are very few trees that are not the best candidates for this type of garden like cedar, black walnut, any treated or painted wood, black locust, or black cherry.  Hugekultur is a fun way to use a fallen tree or create an interesting raised bed.

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