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