I am excited to explore Hugelkultur, a method of gardening that our gardener, Saul, mentioned to me when I explained our goals for building garden beds on our land. We are working within a variety of soil conditions on uneven surfaces, and in areas where there are already fallen logs and years of tangled debris. Our challenge will be to build new, rich soil and to maximize surface space and sun exposure. We also want to build a living fence using apple and plum trees and a variety of berries and bee-attracting flowers. Areas of our microfarm will also be designated for a chicken coop, worm bin, and potentially a bee hive.
Hugelkultur, at first glance, looks like a perfect fit for our particular situation. I appreciate the concept of building steeped, raised beds, and bringing in elements from a hyper-local environment–for us, seaweed from our neighboring beach (I’d love to use kelp because of its richness in iodine, calcium and minerals), old wood, straw, fish/bone meal, and our own organic, GMO-free compost. Free-ranging chickens will help control bugs and pests (and provide a necessary protein component to their diet).
I also appreciate the relative ease of building this system. It’s aligned with our property’s setting and needs. We have most of the materials at hand. And with our extremely mild winter, I’d like to get our beds built and seeds/seedlings planted soon. We can do this ourselves with an eye toward design–we want our garden to be functional and artistic, maximizing color and blooming with the seasons. I’d like to incorporate a few hand-built benches made from our big, old cedar tree that needs to come down, and some areas of play for the kids. Many of our garden beds will be visible to passers-by in our neighborhood, and I am interested in giving them something they will enjoy looking at.
There are tons of online resources about how to utilize hugelkultur and maximize soil conditions. Here are a few: