No Watering, No Bending!
Its a German word that refers to a technique of raised-bed gardening that does not require watering or irrigation. I made a hugelkultur in my back yard a few weekends ago, and I’m expecting good things!
Basically, a hugelkultur is a raised bed of piled rotting wood in the center, and dirt on top of that. You mulch the bed to keep the weeds down, and plant into it.
The benefits are:
- No irrigation. Wood absorbs and holds water very well. When you have wood underneath your vegetables, it will hold enough water in the soil you do not have to water your garden. It may take a few months or even an entire growing season before the wood has absorbed enough water that you do not have to irrigate anymore. The timing depends on many factors – weather, soil, air moisture, etc.
- No bending. It is not necessary to make a hugelkulur bed raised high, but you can! Wood piled high and soil piled on top of that means less bending over to plant and harvest your veggies. I made my bed 4 feet high! However, it also had to be at least 5-6 feet wide at the base. Hugelkultur beds can be great for people with back problems, folks utilizing wheelchairs, and Seniors.
- No fertilizing. Over time, the wood you bury decomposes. This creates a slow carbon release into the soil. As long as you add nitrogen to your hugelkultur bed, then the plants will have everything they need! No more fertilizers have to be added. Nitrogen is in “green” compost – kitchen scraps, grass clippings. It is also in human and animal urine. Men always get a kick out of this one – urinating directly on the vegetable bed. Nitrogen is also released by dead vegetable plants – so if you just pull and leave last season’s crop exactly where it was to let it decompose in the bed, you will be providing nitrogen to your next crop of food.
People construct hugelkulturs in many ways depending on their space, physical abilities, and materials available. They can be tall, short, round, curved, rectangular, keyhole-shaped. As long as you have decomposing wood inside the base of the bed, you should get the results explained above.
For more details and pictures on how to construct a hugelkultur bed, see this website: http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/