Although the appellation “hugelkultur” was coined by German horticulturalists Hans Beba and Herman Andra in the backward 1970s, the absolute address has apparently been acclimated for bags of years. Roughly translated into “hill culture”, this adjustment consists of creating aloft garden beds by accoutrement adulteration copse with admixture and soil, and again burying into them. If you anticipate about it, it’s absolutely aloof re-creating the furnishings of backwoods attic decomposition—but in one’s own garden space. Learn how to accomplish your own afterwards the jump!
Illustration by Paul Wheaton
The way that hugelkultur works is best declared in the book Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemenway:
The decomposing amoebic amount in hugelkultur beds raises the temperature aloof abundant to addition bulb growth. Another advantage: As the coarse besom rots, it releases nutrients slowly, and additionally holds absolutely a bit of water.
That sounds rather efficient, doesn’t it? You’ve acceptable appear beyond accustomed instances of hugelkultur afore and never alike noticed what was activity on, as all the abracadabra was accident below the soil. If you’ve anytime taken a airing through the backwoods (which I absolutely achievement anybody has), you’ve apparently noticed how abundant all the greenery is in there. In the woods, annihilation anytime goes to waste: When a timberline annex avalanche assimilate the backwoods floor, it will bore a bit into the apple and admixture there, and boring accrue admixture and clay over it as leaves fall. Seeds from trees, fungi, flowers, and lichen will acquisition their way over to the advantageously decomposing accumulation of nutrients that the log will become, and afore you apperceive it, that breadth will be covered with new life. Eventually, as the log disintegrates, the breadth about it will bore bottomward to the new “ground level”, and all the advantage appear from the aged roots, mulched collapsed leaves and such will breeding both the absolute soil, and approaching ancestors of new growth.
Image © Bulb Chicago
To actualize a agnate aftereffect in one’s own garden, we aim to re-create the layers that would accrue aloft the collapsed wood, so the layers end up actuality in adjustment like this:
When authoritative your own, you can actualize them as low or aerial as you’d like. Some bodies like to dig trenches and abode logs into it so that the admixture and clay advance bestride will actualize a about collapsed surface, while others may accumulation logs and twigs a brace of anxiety aerial to actualize alpine ridges. The aloft address works able-bodied to actualize the apparition of a accepted garden, while the closing has allowances such as giving you added apparent amplitude to bulb on, and the adeptness to autumn aliment after accepting to angle and stoop too much. Hugelkultur can additionally be acclimated central aloft garden beds, and alike in ample agriculturalist pots.
Since the coarse amount of anniversary bank releases these nutrients, and the copse fibres blot up and retail water, hugelkultur beds don’t charge to be fertilized or anhydrous actual often. They will, however, blot up nitrogen for the aboriginal year or two, so try to abstain burying anniversary vegetables in these beds until the third or fourth year. Aim for potatoes, tomatoes, lettuces and added comestible greens, beans, abiding vegetables, and alike drupe bushes. Skip plants like annihilate or broccoli until the mounds are able-bodied established. Over time, the breakdown of the copse aural will account the mounds to collapse a little bit, so you’ll charge to add admixture layers in adjustment to advance them, and to add added nutrients to the soil.
Image © Bulb Chicago
There are many allowances of hugelkultur, and one of which is that the atomization activity on in the affection of the bank will accession the soil’s temperature, appropriately giving you a best growing season! This agency that not alone can you alpha seeds earlier, but you’ll acceptable be able to accumulate agriculture aliment for a acceptable few weeks after than the boilerplate gardener. Should you adjudge to bulb early/harvest late, be abiding to accord your plants a bit of added advice by accoutrement seedlings with burlap to assure them from backward frosts, or by application cloches and such to bulwark off aboriginal ones in the autumn.
Although the ideal abode for a bed like this is a brilliant atom on your land, these can additionally advance in partially black areas as well. If you plan to abode your bed in a little-used atom that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, be abiding to ample it with plants that do able-bodied in brindle or fractional shade, such as bok choi, arugula, spinach, lettuce, and scallions. Also, accumulate in apperception that the “elbow” breadth area the acropolis meets collapsed acreage will be acutely comestible affluent acknowledgment to runoff from above, so it’s a acceptable abstraction to bulb abundant feeders such as squash, pumpkins, zucchini, melons, eggplant, and cucumbers there.
If you adjudge that you’d like to accomplish the borders about your hugelkultur bed a bit “prettier”, you can bend them in a cardinal of altered ways. Some bend endemic with holed artery or adhesive blocks that can accept herbs or adorning flowers developed aural them, while others ability use accustomed stone. Intricate branches or driftwood can accomplish absorbing borders, or you can aloof leave them accustomed and let them absorb into their surroundings. About you adjudge to body and adorn yours, it will assuredly be a baby masterpiece of permaculture, and you’ll be able to acquire the allowances of your adamantine assignment for years to come.
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