Redoing the organic garden with raised planter beds was an important goal for the farm. The garden beds had been outlined with river rocks, but over time, the rocks sunk down and the gophers just built dirt mounds to climb over the wire. Last year, most of the river rocks were removed and placed in other areas in the perennial garden. In the winter of 2016, all the Irises were dug up and removed to perimeter areas. We were planning for a major garden redesign.
Permanent ways to build raised planter beds with milled redwood lumber or cement blocks were costly options.
Coincidentally, three locust trees leaned themselves over in the winter rains from December 2016 – February 2017. An idea came to mind to build all the planter beds from locust limbs. Why not? All the fencing in the garden was made from split locust limbs and the perennial beds were lined with locust stumps. It was an exciting revelation to know that the garden beds would be built in the summer of 2017.
All the limbs and thick branches from the three locust trees were strategically cut into 9 foot lengths when possible.
In addition, two other locust trees were removed and all the wood was saved for projects, including the wood chips.
On June 10, Rich and Rick spent four hours building the framework around the Hugelkultures. These two mounds required the thickest and longest locust limbs. Also, it was great to learn how to build the planter beds. It look longer than expected because the wire was laid flat and soil had to be removed to pull up the wire. We also had to fit branches on top of each other and they were not straight, it was like a puzzle.
Laying down the first piece after the wire was pulled up to keep out the gophers which are a huge problem. I purposely bought a thicker hardware wire since gopher/aviary wire rusts within a few years.
Using redwood 2x4s to attach the locust limbs together; the locust is hard as a rock so using an impact driver is the easiest solution with 8″ self-driving screws.
Rich uses a chainsaw to cut off the edges of the locust before adding the side pieces.
Rick hauling over a big limb as the base of the Hugelkultur.
Both Hugelkultures framed in and look great, very organic, rustic, and sturdy.
After learning the building technique from Rich, I recruited Will to help me build the third raised planter bed. Our box is a little more artistic with more gaps between the logs because all the large limbs were used for the Hugelkultures. Surprisingly, the thick limbs from 5 locust trees are not enough to finish the garden. My neighbor has given me permission to cut smaller trees so I need more materials to finish… as usual, every project takes time.