A proper definition of Hügelkultur, which literally translates as ‘mound culture’, is a type of mound garden bed structure created by layering garden materials. This is the practice of spoiling items for reuse. Hügelkultur is a permaculture gardening technique that has been used for generations in Germany and Eastern Europe. “Raising” your raised bed to a new level.
There are several steps to successfully creating a hügelkultur mound. Start by removing the grass in the selected area to a depth of about 12 inches. Set aside this material and add it to the new mound bed soil. Then place one or he two rotten wood logs in this empty space, followed by branches. Fill any empty spaces with wood chips or hay. Add leaves, topsoil and compost to this structure. The structure will be triangular and can be any length that suits your garden. Once the mound structure is shaped, place 6 to 8 inches of deep soil on top. This initial mound creation is a large part of the heavy hand work.
Now you are ready to plant the sides and top of your garden bed. Tall plants (such as corn) may be out of reach when harvested.
This type of gardening is similar to permaculture, regenerative gardening and organic gardening. We continue to put nutrients back into the soil by utilizing natural methods of recycling decaying organic matter. merit? You are feeding the plants with nutrient-rich soil made from garden materials.
This method increases gardening space and reduces the amount of water needed by planting on the sides and top of garden mounds. Once started, this is a low annual input, self-perpetuating garden bed. Each original layer is decomposed to continuously create nutrient-rich soil. No additional work required. Plant everything you like: onions, greens, tomatoes, cabbage, and be surrounded by perennials and annuals to attract color and pollinators.
If critters are a problem in your area, you can line the bed with hardware cloth or place a wire mesh cover over the mound.
The best logs to use as a base are hard woods such as oak, apple, beech, and maple that take longer to decompose. Using slowly decaying wood allows him to maintain the hügelkultur garden for 5 to 10 years before the process is repeated. As the garden rots over the years, the decaying material shrinks over time.
As with all gardens, make sure your chosen location receives plenty of sunlight. At least 6-8 hours a day is required. Happy planting and harvesting in a soil-friendly way.
Diane Miller is a Master Gardener at the University of California Cooperative Extension Tuolumne County.