Friday, April 13, 2018

Hugelkultur garden

It's been a long time since I posted on my blog. Today, I will show you how I transformed my backyard from a money pit to a productive garden. The story goes back to Hurricane Irma, that ingrate lady that came visit us and took half of one of my cedars with her. But that's a different story altogether. So, I found myself with lots and lots of organic debris. If Matthew, that ungrateful son of a gun that took a half of my other cedar tree, taught me something is that, debris pickup takes forever. Therefore, I decided to do something with all the debris. I started with my own, soon enough I found myself picking up debris from my neighbors' driveways. And that, my friend, is a hugelkultur.

The idea of these hills is that you layer them with logs, then branches, then leaves, then dirt, then leaves, then dirt, then manure, then compost, etc. More or less, like a lasagna of organic debris that will decompose, absorb water, and feed your crops (sometime down the road). Not only do these hills produce beautiful produce, they also are quite nice to look at.

In my opinion, these hills are quite compatible with the suburban garden, as they are aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain.

So, how do you start? You collect some trunks of trees. People are cutting down trees all the time. Before you have ever built a hugel, you don't think much about it, but once you've built one, you start seeing the felled trees everywhere... trust me.

I helped a friend to take down one of her trees and I got materials for my hugel and she paid me some money to boot! Then, you roll up your sleeves and start digging.
I tried to dig deep enough to get the first row of trunks fully under the ground level. Some people make these hugels without digging at all. They just pile the stuff on top of the ground. I don't like this idea, as the resulting hugels are too big. In addition, digging provides you with dirt to layer on top, so you don't have to buy more. A note on the size of the hugel. I found that the smaller hugels are easier to plant and harvest. Roughly 8'x5' is a good size. Longer should be o.k. but not wider. The one in this picture is a little too wide to reach the middle.

 After you have layered your biggest trunks you continue with a layer of branches.
 Then, some dirt, then some branches.
 I didn't have good compost, so I covered with some composted manure from the store.
 Here is another hugel:
 And another, with some seedlings starting to grow:
 And another:
 These last two are my twin hugels. I planted them with the same vegetables in almost the same order.  And another picture:
 Here are all but two of them:

Now, let me show off some of the produce. We have eaten so many vegetables that we must be growing rabbit teeth.

Happy building!

PS: Some people say cedar wood is a no-no for hugels, but I have to say that they probably have not ever tried it. The hugels I made with cedar wood are doing fantastic when compared to the other types of wood. So, if life gives you cedar wood, make a good hugel out of it.

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