Hugelkultur – utilizing brush debris and kitchen waste in garden beds

We already somewhat tried this when we built our three sisters bed in spring, putting brush we had to clear in the bottom of the bed.  However, we didn't think of adding out kitchen waste and a few other goodies to make it work.

The Art and Science of Making a Hugelkultur Bed – Transforming Woody Debris into a Garden Resource

— by Melissa Miles August 3, 2010


Wooden debris will decompose faster,
(and be transformed into a resource)
when hugelkultur techniques are
employed.

Used for centuries in Eastern Europe and Germany, hugelkultur (in German hugelkultur translates roughly as “mound culture”) is a gardening and farming technique whereby woody debris (fallen branches and/or logs) are used as a resource.
Often employed in permaculture systems, hugelkultur allows gardeners and farmers to mimic the nutrient cycling found in a natural woodland to realize several benefits. Woody debris (and other detritus) that falls to the forest floor can readily become sponge like, soaking up rainfall and releasing it slowly into the surrounding soil, thus making this moisture available to nearby plants.
Hugelkultur garden beds (and hugelkultur ditches and swales) using the same principle to:

  • Help retain moisture on site
  • Build soil fertility
  • Improve drainage
  • Use woody debris that is unsuitable for other use

Applicable on a variety of sites, hugelkultur is particularly well suited for areas that present a challenge to gardeners. Urban lots with compacted soils, areas with poor drainage, limited moisture, etc., can be significantly improved using a hugelkultur technique, as hugelkultur beds are, essentially, large, layered compost piles covered with a growing medium into which a garden is planted.
Creating a hugelkultur garden bed is a relatively simple process:

So now we'll try this again and we'll get started for NEXT year's planting.  We still have plenty more brush and kitchen waste.  Have to cover it so the animals won't get to it.