For the first time I am attempting to do a hugelkultur bed. Hugelkultur is an old German way of gardening that is regaining popularity in permaculture circles.
In a nut shell, old logs are buried under the soil. The logs begin to rot further under the soil and retain mass amounts of water through the growing season. The roots of plants draw water out of the logs like a sponge and the bed should require no watering/irrigation. There are claims that these beds have sustained through 2 month droughts with no water while other gardens suffer. This is a no-till system. The logs break down slowly and turn into humus and feed the soil at a natural pace. Due to some nitrogen tie-up, the first season with the bed should feature low feeding plants such a lettuce or beans. The second year permits more high-feeding plants such as tomatoes and from that season on anything can be grown. These beds work for many years, saving massive amounts of water and other resources. This will be combined with a wood chip mulch on top to suppress weeds, build soil and conserve even more moisture.
One downside is the amount of time and effort it requires to dig logs a foot into the soil. I did this 4 x 35 bed in about 8 hours. This includes gathering rotting logs from the woods. It was a very heavy work day that exhausted me. It could be done in stages to break the work up. I fully believe that this work now will save countless hours of work later and hundreds, even thousands of gallons of water.
This is an awesome way to use trees on the curb that have fallen from storms or old firewood that has rotted.
One exciting thing is that the logs I found were covered in life. Countless species of fungi, arthropods and other creatures have been introduced to the soil food web in my mom’s garden.
Check this link for more info - http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/
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