hugelkultur (hoogle culture)

Permaculture’s hugelkultur

We’re making an effort to embrace and learn permaculture systems by incorporating them in our homestead as much as possible. Permaculture embraces ways that work with nature, not against–utilizes the natural tendencies to get the most out of things with the littlest (long term) efforts; Hugelkultur is a prime example of taking advantage of nature’s way. The idea behind this system makes a compost pile to plant on simply by digging a shallow hole, burying yard waste and letting it do it’s ‘thing’. The wood itself develops its own ecosystem while decomposing, and eventually converts into a very fertile hill. The logs release nitrogen, retain moisture and compost all at the same time. These types of beds are a great way to clean up a property that has logging debris all about, like ours right now…

So here are the (our) steps.

Dig a hole, employing your most agile diggers. (ours is about 12″ deep x 15′ long and 3’wide)
Fill the hole with logs, rotting ones are even better.

Then cover the logs with wood chips, leaves or both.
Finish it up with  the dirt you dug out of the hole and cover the logs/waste. Some people import more dirt and compost to pile on–we used what we had and were surprised how far it went.

The finished thing looks something like this (a hot mess).

Then plant into it. This hugelkultur is it’s own thing, an ecosytem unto itself–or that’s the idea. The wood below will rot and hold water, create compost, and provide everything your plants need by the third year. A hugelkultur is capable of growing anything, from fruit trees to herbs and flowers to tomatoes. Of course, thanks to ‘google culture’ there’s plenty more available for those of you interested.

If you’re going to try one, do it now while it’s cool and the ground is soft. This was hard work, even with all hands on deck it took us approximately 6 hours. We were pooped and felt very deserving of our day off. Thank goodness ‘farming friday’ falls right before shabbat. But, over time our time saved on tilling, weeding, and watering will hopefully prove our effort worthwhile.

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