Hügelkultur: Simple Permaculture
Written by: Sumati Shah, Go Go Green Thumbs
Can you dig it?
Hügelkultur adapts easily to whatever circumstances you’ve got: Filling a raised bed or dug in as a trench, or somewhere in between: a swale or berm that’s dug, filled and mounded.
I like this method for a lot of reasons and use it pretty much every other year to amend existing or create a new area for planting to reduce my lawn.
First pick your spot and dig (or build your frame if you’re filling for a raised bed) about 2-3 ft deep and however long you need for the space you’re creating.
Rule of Green Thumbs: Hügelkultur is a simple and sustainable soil solution for every garden.
LAYER 1: Put in the logs & largest pieces of wood you’ve got from all the garden clean up and spring pruning. Avoid creating big empty pockets by filling gaps with smaller branches & twigs, kitchen compost and leaves. What goes in the bottom will break down and compost itself over the course of 2-3 years.
LAYER 2: On top of your bulky layer of wood, toss in the sod you removed face down on top of the log layer.
LAYER 3: I like to add a layer of leaves here particularly when I’ve got sod underneath since it helps to smother it, if you don’t have any leaves or mulch available or if you’ve not used fresh turned grass, you can skip this layer
LAYER 4: Last one is to add a thick layer of compost or good garden soil. My soil isn’t so bad, so this is where I put back all the soil I dug out for the hole.
You’re done! You have successfully created layers of organic materials and allowing natural decomposition process to take place over time.
How is this simple permaculture? You’re using all your own garden “waste” to benefit from all the good stuff that comes with a more natural approach to tending the food or flowers you’re growing.
It’s a job I usually undertake in the fall, but needs must! If you’ve got plans for a new victory garden, or just a lot of garden cleanup in your spring schedule then … Dig it!
Green Thumb Tip: Cedar breaks down very slowly – if this is the wood you’re using. For better results, cut the pieces smaller.
Go Go Green Thumbs!