Hugelkultur

I’ve been meaning to do a post about hugelkultur for a while, but don’t really need to now, as this post from the Permaculture Research Institute says all I could say, and more.

I made a half-hearted attempt to make a hugelkultur bed some time ago, using litter (leaves and small sticks), raked from the walking tracks in the bush area. I did it on contour and started to dig a swale beside it. I threw grass clippings, which I get from a friend’s property, on top and actually planted some potatoes and asparagus seedlings.

The potatoes grew well but I didn’t bother harvesting them because I had so many coming from other areas. The rabbits ate the asparagus down. I expect they’ll re-appear eventually (the asparagus, not the rabbits). The potatoes will re-shoot, too.

The problem was, the bed was right down at the rear of the property, in a spot where I don’t go much. I was just interested to see what I could grow there on natural rainfall, because there’s no way I was going to connect up a dozen hoses to get water there.

I won’t abandon this first attempt, but after reading this latest article, I want to have another go, this time in an area closer to the house and the food forest and intensive vegetable gardens. In permaculture terms, it would probably be Zone 2.

I’ve chosen an area alongside the main pathway that goes from the house down to the food forest and the rear of the property. I track up and down this path several times a day, so I’d be able to check on plant growth regularly. The hose from the water tank to the original vegetable growing area, located within the food forest, runs right beside the path, so I’d be able to water if necessary. I want a permanent mound garden to grow pumpkin, zucchini and cucumber and this would be an ideal spot. There’s dappled shade from the eucalypts above. What’s growing there now is just some native grasses and mat-rushes and there are so many of them in other parts of the property that they won’t be missed.

Firewood is valuable here (the only form of heating), so I won’t be using big logs, but I have a mountain of small sticks and kindling wood and plenty of twigs, leaves and dead bracken (the green bracken gets chipped for mulch). The small stuff will break down more quickly, too.

So…a new project…a proper hugelkultur bed. I like new projects!


The location…on the left of the path

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4 Responses to “Hugelkultur”

  1. Elliot Says:

    Greetings from Uruguay, where we have many tree and plant species native to Australia and New Zealand. We have many mousehole trees, blue gum eucs and acacias. Do you have any experience using these with your hugelkultur beds? Many thanks.

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Elliot,

      I’ll be using acacias and eucalypts pretty much exclusively, as they are the major tree species growing here.

      Since I’m only just starting to put the hugelkultur bed together, I don’t have any experience as to how they’ll go as yet, but will be posting regular updates.

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  2. Elliot Says:

    Hi again. Any update on your hugel beds? I started mine (euc litter mainly) and put down some potatoes. Some small ants that normally like woody material got into them, but they survived. Thanks, Elliot.

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Elliot,

      Not as yet, I’m afraid. My beds contain a lot of woody material (sticks and twigs), and since we’ve just come through summer, with decreased rainfall, there hasn’t been a lot of breakdown. I’m still adding green material and a little wood ash from the fire and I hope I might be able to get some vines and potaotes into the beds by next spring. I may have to add some soil or compost but compost is really precious stuff round here and I prefer to keep it to top up the normal garden beds.

      I will definitely update, though, so thanks for keeping in touch.

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