Hugelkultur, Hugel Beds… Hugel what?

Hugelkultur – is a German concept meaning “hill culture”.  In our house we pronounce it – “hoogal – culture”.

It seems to me, hugelkultur is one of the easiest permaculture techniques you can add to your backyard today!  To create a hugel bed (hugelkultur raised garden bed) you, simply, bury wood under topsoil.   A hugel bed needs clean natural wood, do not use wood that has been treated!

I set out to build our hugel beds over one weekend!   In our last house I put a couple hugel beds in, and dug the holes by hand, which was a lot of hard-ass work worked well.  This time I was  putting in more beds, along with other earth works project that had to be done, I could justify renting a small excavator to do the digging.

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After the holes were dug I covered the wood with our compost, and trimmed out the beds.  You would never know hiding under the surface of our garden beds is a ton of wood.

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The beneficial effect of the buried wood will not be fully realized for the first few years.  I recommend adding some all natural nitrogen soil enhancements, such as blood meal (available at your local garden supply store) to offset the enormous carbon presence in the wood.

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The soon to be decomposing wood is beneficial to the gardens in water retention, and promotion of fungal growth.  I will not have to irrigate as much, like with conventional raised beds.  My understanding is the benefits of hugel beds last, as long as, ten to fifteen years after construction.

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“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”
― Bill Mollison