Gardening Permaculture

Day 8 – Hügelkultur

First, you’ll notice there is a mysterious posting gap for days 6 & 7. That would be because I didn’t write them. Oh well, onwards and upwards.

Lately I’ve been reading up on hügelkultur (pronounciation here), and found a couple good posts on it that I have linked at the bottom of this post. It’s basically a system to use organic biomass to make the soil more fertile (due to the decomposition of the biomass along with the added insects that show up and help keep the soil healthy), improve water retention, and keep the soil warmer. It also drastically reduces the amount of soil you’ll need in a raised bed, which appealed to me because soil is not cheap in our area and I’m building raised beds in our back yard.

I am also intrigued by just how much warmer the soil stays, and will be devising some systems to measure that. I’d like to extend our growing season into the fall for sure, and as far into the winter as possible.

I decided to write about it since I needed a topic to come up with, I’m pretty sure there will be a sizable amount of gardening content in this blog over the summer and fall, and it’s pretty damn interesting.

There are a few things that I’m keeping in mind.

  • First and foremost would be using the correct biomass; I’m focusing on extra soil from our yard, some extra soil from planters we moved with, some branches and logs that I believe are alder, some wood and charcoal ashes from the grill and fire pit, and assorted compostable biomass from dead heading and pruning flowers and bushes around the yard.
  • Second, I’m trying to stay conscious of nitrogen lock, especially since I’m using barely seasoned logs for part of the foundation. This should only be an issue for 2-3 years and I think we can overcome this in the meantime by simply adding extra nitrogen to the soil. One of my favorite fertilizers, Alaska Fish Fertilizer (Amazon) is 5-1-1, so there is some nitrogen there, and I also use Osmocote (Amazon) pretty consistently, but I will also add some blood meal (Amazon) to the soil when I’m filling the beds if needed. I do need to find a test kit that works well and is cost effective, so please reach out to me if you have a recommendation.
  • Lastly, these aren’t the tallest beds in the world, so I’m working to be conscious of how deep the soil will be. If it’s too shallow, I won’t get the root structure I want to see.

For more info I’d recommend reading what is pretty much the most extensive Hügelkultur reference I’ve been able to find, as well as Half-Ass Hügelkultur for an example of mounded hügelkultur.

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