This issue’s Guest Author is Mirra Price
Hugelkultur are no-dig raised beds. They hold moisture, build soil richness, and are great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. These beds are stuffed with rotten wood and other organic materials, which as years go by, makes the soil rich and alive. Please see the photos from Nina’s gardens.
Hugelkultur, pronounced Hoo-gul-culture, means hill culture or hill mound. https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur
Rather than hauling wood to the dump, chipping it, or putting it in bins for yard waste, make hugel raised beds. Simply make a mound of leaves, grass clippings, straw, cardboard, petroleum-free newspaper, manure, or compost and similar materials. Then top with soil and plant your veggies.
Hugelkultur raised garden beds can be built only two feet tall; they will hold moisture for about three weeks. These beds can be raised a foot or so every year so that neighbors may not notice. If you build the beds high enough, you won’t need to irrigate. Start by building six feet tall (seven to account for shrinkage) because the beds will shrink, mostly in the first month. (https://richsoil.com/hugelkultur/)
The first few years, this composting process will make the soil a bit warmer, extending the growing season a little. The woody parts keep an excess of nutrients from passing into the ground water, and then refeeds nutrients to your garden plants later. A hugelkultur system could even grow plants in the desert with no irrigation.
The ideal wood to use for your beds is: alder, apple, cottonwood, poplar, willow (dry) and birch. Avoid cedar as it full of natural pesticides, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial chemicals. Maple would probably be good, as well. Prefer rotten wood over slightly aged wood. Rotten wood does not rob the garden of nitrogen as less seasoned wood does.
You will enjoy the luscious vegetables, herbs, and fruits of any kind grown in hugelkultur raised beds. Join the hugelkultur movement! Check out the You Tube How to Hugel video.