Modified Hugelkultur Composting Method

We are at the end of the first season using my modified Hugelkultur composting method.  This composting method could be also called the incredible easy composting method!!  You can check out my post about how wonderful the squash was and how well it grew!  I started cleaning up the old squash plants and putting away the trellises. I noticed a lot of debris on the ground.  There were pieces of old branches and flower stems.

Modified Hugelkultur Composting Method Needed Some Work

I realized that the compost, leaves, organic matter and dirt that I had put on the hugelkultur had composted some more and settled.  This only makes sense to me as I think about my experience with composting.  The compost piles in my wire bins are always shrinking.  The more they compost the smaller they get.  I had a full trash can of compost from my compost tumbler at the beginning of the summer.  Red wiggler composting worms were working at it the whole summer. Now less than half the trash can is full of compost.  Everything settled and composted in my hugelkultur row exposing some of the sticks and branches that were buried in it.

It was a simple fix.  I added more dirt, leaves and compost to cover the exposed garden debris.  No sticks or branches this time because I want it all to compost and settle.  I am hoping by next spring, this row will be more composted so that I can plant other things beside squash in it.  It was disturbing to see the scattered plant stems and branches that had previously been covered up.  As you can see from this picture that it was easy to fix the problem.  These composting rows will probably need more compost and soil periodically.  And that is easy to do!

Some Exceptions on What to Grow

The first year you grow plants with this composting method you should limit what you plant.  You can experiment but don’t be surprised if some plants don’t do so well.  The reason is that there is not so much soil in the row.  There are a lot of stalks, leaves, some branches and garden debris that needs to break down into compost.

I find that squash will grow anywhere. And by this, I mean the squash that grows into a vine; not necessarily the bush squashes.  When you put squash seeds in your regular kitchen compost they sprout anywhere.  I would only plant vining squash in a row like this.  I use Tahitian Melon Squash.  The thing to remember is to keep it watered very well until it gets established.  My theory is that the roots make their way down to the soil that is underneath the row.  I think they get sustenance along the way from the soil and compost that had been layered into the composting row.  By the second year the composting row should work fine for most plants.

Here is a discussion on Tahitian Melon Squash and more info on the Hugelkultur composting method.

Growing Hot Peppers

Growing Hot PeppersGrowing hot peppers is a very rewarding experience and a culinary delight!! That is if you like the heat.  Personally I can’t eat hot peppers but my husband loves them so we grow a lot of different kinds.

You do have to wait until the fall to see the wonders of growing hot peppers. Peppers take a long time to mature. So, even though, we were harvesting hot peppers at the end of the summer; they are truly bountiful now in October. That is if you live in a place where it stays warm until November!! You can see from this picture of Habanero peppers that they are prolific and what I mean about bountiful hot peppers! And not only are they so plentiful. They are truly beautiful as they shimmer in the fall sunshine! If you like hot peppers I recommend that you try your hand at growing them next spring.

Peppers need really good soil to grow well.  This Habanero pepper plant was gorgeous.  The one growing next to it didn’t do nearly so well.  It was a little scraggly with much fewer peppers and the plants were only 2 feet apart.  The soil was different just two feet away.  I would recommend that you dig a deep hole before you plant and amend the soil with compost, worm compost and rabbit manure if you have some available.  Of course, you can always use fertilizer.

Experiment with Growing Hot Peppers

There was another pepper plant that did very poorly at the end of the garden.  I am going to do an experiment this winter and put Bokashi compost and rabbit manure in the hole that I dig.  After the first frost when the pepper dies, I will dig this hole.  I will also do this with the scraggly Habanero pepper and see if we have better luck next year.  To the left is one of our Jalapeno harvests!  The Habanero peppers are the hottest that we grow.  The Jalapeno peppers are not as hot. Here is more info on the heat in Hot Peppers.

We grew all kinds of peppers including 2 sweet peppers (Green and Lunchbox Yellow).  I am listing the hot peppers below.  We bought some as seedlings at a nursery and we grew some from seed.

 

  1. Habanero
  2. Serrano
  3. Red Chili
  4. Dragon Cayenne
  5. Jalapeno
  6. Thai
  7. Garden Salsa (not too hot)
  8. Giant Jalapeno
  9. Fish Peppers
  10. Tabasco
  11. Plain Chili

After we pick the peppers we cut them up.  We use latex gloves to protect ourselves from the heat!  Then we dry them using this which we bought from Amazon:

Then we grind them up and make all kinds of hot pepper mixtures! We gave one mix for a gift and it was greatly appreciated!