Hugelkultur may not be a word that everyone will be familiar with. Derived from a centuries old Germanic concept, Hugelkultur, or raised garden beds, is an age old concept still enthusiastically implemented in both gardening and farming today.
Hugelkultur beds are created by mounding soil over large amounts of biomass such as tree trunks, branches and garden debris. The garden or bed will then be planted on top of the mound. We recommend using the dried wood from apples trees, birch and willow. Cedar wood should be avoided as it releases chemicals that inhibit the growth of competitors.
The wood acts like a sponge and holds moisture deep into your giant compost pile. Add a layer of fertile top soil and you will have created the perfect fertile bed in which to plant your flowers or vegetables. Using bone meal or a good layer of mulch or manure will increase the fertility of the soil and hold the bed in place.
Give the bed a good watering to help create innate moisture within the bed and you should be ready to go.
So what are the advantages of Hugelkultur? The decomposing matter in the centre of the bed will raise the temperature within the bed by a few degrees compared to outside temperatures. This will help protect your plants through colder days, and will even help to extend your growing season.
After the first year, irrigation and fertilising is virtually unnecessary, although it won’t do any harm, the decomposed wood should provide sufficient nitrogen and water. If you have a bad back or knees you can customise the height and size of your bed to suit your needs.
Hugelkultur is also an eco friendly means of gardening. You’re not spending money on wood as you would be with traditional raised beds, and using natural materials that would most likely rot. You are creating an environment that is living and breathing.
The beauty of Hugelkultur is that it can be executed almost anywhere from your garden to your backyard or a car park or driveway. Isn’t it time we all embraced Hugelkultur?