How to Make An Eco-Friendly Hugelkultur Raised Garden Bed
Ever heard of hugelkultur? Hugelkultur garden beds are a wonderful, eco-friendly way to recycle the bits of wood and tree trimmings from around your yard into a thriving raised bed garden.
Logs and smaller branches are buried with rich soil and nutrients to create an in-place wood composting system that is also a productive soil for plants. Hugelkultur beds are warm and ready for planting earlier in the spring, both because they are raised up off the ground and also because of the active composting of the logs. They’re also easier to use than planting in the ground because you don’t have to bend over so far to harvest your plants!
Here are the basic steps for creating your own hugelkultur bed. The full tutorial and free printable instructions are available at http://www.homefortheharvest.com/urban-hugelkultur/
Step 1: Measure and Prep
-Measure out the area for the hugelbed. The hugelkultur bed will likely be approximately 3-5 feet wide if you live on a small lot, and can be as long as you like.
-Calculate how much wood and soil will be required. You will use equal parts of woody material and soil. For a small hugelkultur bed, each 10′ of length will require 1 yard of wood and 1 yard of soil (1 yard is approximately 1 full pick-up truck). For a larger hugelkultur bed, use the same amount of wood and soil over a 5′ length.
-Measure the nitrogen-rich material. For each cubic yard of wood used, add one cubic foot of composted manure (or other nitrogen-rich material such as food scraps).
Step 2: Dig a Trench
-Dig a trench within the perimeter of the hugelbed.
-The trench can be 6 inches to 2 feet deep.
Step 3: Place the First Layer
-Place the largest logs on the bottom of the ditch. These logs will wick up groundwater.
-Place some soil and manure on top of the logs. Push the material down into any open spaces between the logs to fill any air voids.
-Water the logs/soil with the garden hose.
Step 4: Place the Remaining Layers
-Add another layer of smaller logs and branches, filling all the spaces with soil, manure, and/or leaves.
-Continue to water the hugelbed during construction.
-Keep adding layers of logs, moving on to smaller material like branches as the bed rises.
-Fill the spaces between logs/branches with soil, manure, and leaves.
Step 5: Cover and Seed
-Once all of the woody material has been placed, cover the hugelkultur bed with soil.
-Water the finished hugelbed.
-Seed the bed heavily with seeds of your choosing.
-Give the bed a final watering.
-You can get fancy later with mulch, perennials, and ornamental finishes :)
- Wood logs, sticks, leaves, and other organic yard waste
- Nitrogen-rich material (manure, food scraps, coffee grounds)
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