Nope – not a typo. It’s Hugelkultur. This is a way of gardening which fits right in with the organic, sustainable, use-what-you-have type of gardener! But what is it?
Hugelkultur is basically “mound culture”. Meaning you basically lay wood (avoid woods which release chemicals as they decay, such as cedar or walnut), compost, manure, and other rotting, plant-based materials, cover it with soil, and plant your crops. As the wood decays, you get some amazing aeration in your soil, negating the need for tilling (after the first year). There are several benefits to this method of gardening, including the natural composting of the wood.
One important fact to remember is the composting of the wood will initially make your soil nitrogen-deficient, so you want to make sure the soil you lay down on top of the wood is very nitrogen-rich (or just add in our 30-10-10, available for only $9.95 for a pound).
Traditional Hugelkultur bed
Hugelkultur is a centuries-old method of farming, and is wonderful for colder-weather climates, because the composting action naturally keeps your soil a few degrees warmer than it would otherwise be. This enables you a slightly-longer growing season. It’s fairly sustainable, as you use natural materials around you as compost (the wood).
You can make your beds as tall as you like (even to the point they are as tall as you are), or you can dig down to create the compost bed, and then all you have for mounds is a slight raise, much like you would have in a regular garden.
Embedded Hugelkultur bed
Interesting way to garden, don’t you think? Have you ever experimented with a Hugelkultur bed? If so, send us your feedback!