Hugelkultur!


We are practicing Hugelkultur — we are hugerkulturists. Our garden is hugelkultural. Actually I don’t know much about it, it’s Sarah’s doing. Hugelkultur is a kind of ‘permaculture’ (‘agro-ecological design theory’) that is basically all about using wood as compost. So, as I quipped, someday our descendents will enjoy rich, fertile soil. No, apparently it can work relatively quickly.

Sarah’s explanation: “you make a pile of sticks and dump dirt on top of it, and plant on that. The twigs rot and release nutrients. Also, the area with the twigs acts as a big sponge.” Our whole back yard can become somewhat sponge-like (see previous post about the flood) so moisture-management is important.

You can also see that we made a stone barrier for our vegetable garden — these were stones we found buried in the ground, presumably left over from some older garden. This is where I came in, doing some garden-golem labor. The beans have started to come up.

One effect of our hugelkultural mindset: Sarah now is always looking for promising sticks to steal from peoples’ front yards. She’s previously done this with bags of leaves — in our old neighborhood she used to drive around filling the van with peoples’ bags of yard waste to use as compost. But now sticks too have emerged as valuable garden fodder. Hugelkultur is, according to Wikipedia, also called ‘Magic’ Mound Composting.

That’s Iris with a wiffle-ball bat in the hugelkultur area. Celie took the middle photo.

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6 Responses

  1. This is good news. We just planted each of our new perennials on top of scoop of (not quite composted) compost which was actually half twigs.

  2. Damn, I just let a tenant (I own a fourplex) throw away several big bundles of sticks he’d cleaned up from numerous volunteer mulberry trees etc. in my sideyard, which I would have simply let pile up underfoot. I laughed because I’ve done that too, taken others bags of leaves for compost because I’ve had no real trees, though my oak is now getting large enough to rake up in the fall.

    How long do you let green sticks dry out before burying them?

  3. just clipped tons of branches off of trees and shrubs this morning… So how do I culture them? Bury them under some leaves?

  4. Ben — only bury green sticks if you know they won’t resprout. If they’re aggressive and hardy enough that it seems as if they might grow under ground, wait until they dry out.

    DQ –there seems to be an art to it and I’m not sure I fully understand it all. Take a look at the site I linked to for some photos…

  5. [...] Sarah has developed a new Hugelkultur initiative in the backyard. (I previously wrote about backyard Hugelkultur way back in June 2008.) [...]

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