This is the first I have heard of hugelkultur, and it makes sense, especially if a garden is on a hill side, or there is a shortage of water. I've watched several films and read articles and the principles are sound. I agree with some of the commenters that putting barn manure onto the heap of logs will help to replace the nitrogen that the logs will consume. Creating berms and swells is good gardening technique and I saw a lot of it when I was in Asia. 

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I've not heard of hugelkultur (horrible word to remember how to spell), either, but I've made a start towards doing it, just because I don't like the work a compost pile takes.

 I've been tilling all my organic matter into the soil, and sometimes just burying it.  I also started making berms for my watermelon plants, and am doing it for other plants as well.  

One of the reasons is because modifying my soil with sand and organic matter, has left me with a large excess of soil on my small piece of land, that the landfill want's me to pay $17/ton to take.  I would like to see them take it for nothing and sell it to people that need good soil, similar to what they do with organic matter.

Very interesting video.  I read about this before but didn't know the principles.  Now I need to find some energetic helpers to haul the logs and soil!

These bins take kitchen vegetable and fruit trimmings and egg shell. They attract flies if not managed correctly. They make an outstanding compost and I empty them each spring.   

In the far background are my covered bins, in the foreground is my worm farm that I take inside before the first frost because freezing kills the red worms that are used to take care of my winter kitchen scraps. This can actually go in your kitchen or your living room. There is no smell, no mess, and the only thing is to keep the water spout at the bottom open with a cup or jar to collect the compost tea that comes off the worms working. The liquid is perfect for houseplants or to toss in the garden.

In between is that long berm running left and right through the picture. These are the cuttings from my garden that collect very quickly through the year. Everything from trimming from shrubs, deadheaded flowers, plants after they die down for the year. I have no annuals, so these are perennials, shrubs and tree leaves. Even corn husks and cobs that the birds and squirrels like to munch on. I take it apart every year or two, sieve it through a large sieve that is about 2.5' x 4'. I start the new pile with uncomposted greens.

Garden sieve, stock photo, mine is very much like this. 

I could leave the berm as it is, throw some dirt on top and plant melons, cucs, squashes of all kinds. They would grow very well in this pile if it were in a sunny spot. To use this pile for planting, I would use a soaker hose along the top, or around the bottom; anything that will keep the pile moist, not soggy, and the vines will quicken the decomposition time. Also, if I were planting the pile, I would throw on two inches of well composted steer, poultry or rabbit manure over the whole pile, then dirt on top.

Joan your compost system is a bit like ours. Ninglikes gadgets so we slso have a compost ball we roll around the yard, snd 3 compost tumblers. Its amazing how much kitchen scrap the 2 of us generate. coffeegrounds, tea bags, vegetable and fruit trimmings. It really enriches the garden beds.

Do you have a picture of a compost ball? I think I know what you mean by compost tumblers. All the precious stuff that people throw away, not even realizing they have a treasure unrecognized. 

Joan, here they are.  The compost ball looks like an old WW1 sea mine.  But it's plastic.  Ning likes gizmos.  The tumbler and the ball work about equally well.  I can push the ball around the yard to mix the contents, more easily than turning the tumbler.  Neither holds a huge amount.  They are really good for kitchen scraps, not so good for big amounts of yard waste.


With all of the coffee grounds, teabags, trimmings, we go through, both of these are in constant use.  When one is full enough to be cumbersome, we switch to the other.

Joan, I too was really surprised when I first heard of hugelkultur. Nature actually does something similar to this process in areas where man hasn't tried to control things. In forested areas, fallen trees and limbs and layers of leaves can hold quite a bit of moisture. I watched a video on no-till farming where a farm was in the middle of a drought and all the tilled field crops were dying. Between the fields were woods. In the woods, where man wasn't trying to control the environment the plants thrived, even some of the volunteer crops that blew over from the fields. They were just fine. It really made me scratch my head and rethink our whole agricultural processes and I couldn't help but think of the dust bowl. As much as I love technology, I am now becoming a fan of the more "natural choice" of doing things. I not only believe in the evolution of species, but of their interconnectedness in an ecosystem. I think the relationships between living things from bacteria to plants, animals, worms all evolve over time. Man may be able to improve some things but we also screw up a lot of other things in the process. We seem to have a history of unintended consequences.

Joan,  I learned about Hugelkultur via a local Permaculture organization and went to see theirs - 4' W, 30'L and 3'H.  I decided to try a smaller version;  I had three small 4' dia. trees that I had cut out of fenceline and I used it as the base of my Hugelkultur along with the many small branches that had leaves on them. I'm waiting for more leaves to fall from my other two trees and will add them and grass clippings. Then will cover with 2" of dirt and let it 'meditate' until March.  The worst that can happen is that it may take longer to break down or I'll need more organic matter.  Either way it will be fun to see how it works. According to everything I've read you can plant just about anything in it, just as if it were a regular raised bed. There is a guy here in TX who is very big on it - All Things Plants - he has FB and his own site. His beds are huge and some are 4 and 5 feet high. Being conscious about "visual beauty :)" I added stones around it to keep dirt in and grass out. Once I add enough dirt for a 2" overall coverage I will probably have to put down more cardboard and move stones out. I had originally thought I could grow watermelon or canteloupe in it, but much to my chagrin learned watermelons need at least 20', ditto canteloupes




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