Farmhand Will Burke mentioned building a garden bed from decayed logs. I really was intrigued, but nothing more was discussed. I was watching a couple of permaculture videos and someone said a word, it was not clear “hubiculture.” Hum! I searched and searched but nothing came up. I was on a mission to learn more so I google searched “planting techniques” and came across an informative website. There it was, HUGELKULTUR. I was blown away, I wanted to try this permaculture planting technique. Will was ready to go and knew how to layer the materials: rotten logs, horse manure, branches, hay, and compost. We had all the materials on site. Because the gopher wire (aviary wire) was being replaced throughout the garden, I did purchase heavy duty hardware fabric to keep out the gophers.
Step 1: Digging down about 1 foot and laying down the hardware cloth. Bottom layer, rotten logs. Fortunately, we had a dead dogwood and locust to use.
Step 2: Pouring about 4 wheelbarrows of horse manure. Stepping it down into the cracks and crevices to remove air pockets and aid in decomposition.
Step 3: After the layer of horse manure, add more branches and twigs to build the mound.
After adding the branches, step on it to compact and break branches. Water well (soak):
Step 4: Layer with a bale of straw and water really well again.
Step 5: Cover the mound with compost. Add a nice, thick layer of soil so you can stick your hand into before reaching the hay layer. Plant seeds. I will be building a locust limb “planting bed frame” around the mound to keep in the soil, the chickens have a habit of playing in the dirt!!
We’ll make one more mound in the garden, I really like this technique! I was so pleased to use up materials around the farm, it is very rewarding.
On Saturday, May 20, 2017, Will and I made our second Hugelkultur mound. This one was bigger because there were more rotten logs to use up.
First, we dug out the old gopher wire and laid down the sturdy hardware cloth. Then, we put two rotten dogwood logs on top:
Old rotten logs were strategically placed on the bottom to eliminate gaps (air pockets), like interlocking puzzle pieces:
After the logs and some soil became the base, horse manure was shoveled over the logs and into the crevices. It was soaked with water:
I had cut some butterfly bushes the week before, so that was added on top with more logs:
More horse manure was shoved on top, building up the mound:
Twigs were laid on top then soil covering it:
Straw from the chicken coop covers the soil:
Once the locust limb frames were built around the mounds, it was a complete process.
To see more about building garden beds from Black Locust trees, visit Locust Planter Beds.
It’s amazing over two years how much the mounds have reduced in size as the wood and branches decompose. One mound is now a permanent perennial bed, and the other is for annual veggies.