Category Archives: Composting

Hugelkultur Composting Method

I have discovered the hugelkultur composting method!  For years I have had the dilemma of what to do with the debris from my garden.  This includes fallen branches and dead flower and vegetable stalks.  I didn’t want to bag them up to be deposited in the landfill.  I made a few compost piles with this garden debris. Read my last post on sticks in the compost pile for my conclusions about adding sticks and stalks to the compost pile.

Introduced to Hugelkultur Composting Method

A while ago, Veterans Compost emailed me a link to an article about the hugelkultur composting method. Hugelkultur involves creating a mound by piling soil, leaves, compost and any other vegetable matter around tree stumps and branches until you have built up a structure 3-4 feet high.  Some people dig a trench first to put the tree stumps in. This is not necessary.  You can create this mound on top of the ground saving yourself a lot of work digging!

It is actually a huge raised bed shaped like a small hill.  The theory is that as the wood breaks down and composts, it will supply nutrients to whatever is growing and help retain water in the mound.  There are pictures on the internet of these hugelkultur mounds (be sure to scroll down on the page to see the pictures).  There are all kinds of plants growing abundantly out of them.  The good thing is that the mound is permanent.  You don’t have to dig it out or turn it as you do with a compost pile.  So you don’t have to sort through the sticks and stalks that haven’t composted yet.

Hugelkultur comes from the Permaculture Community

Permaculture comes from the first part of the word permanent and the second part of the word agriculture.  This term was introduced by David Holmgren and his teacher, Bill Mollison, in 1978.  Permaculture is creating ecosystems that are sustainable and self-sufficient.

Hugelkultur gets its ideas from watching what happens in a forest as fallen trees decompose.  With a hugelkultur mound, the wood is covered with soil, compost, leaves etc. to enable it to decompose faster.

My Version of a Hugelkultur Mound

Hugelkultur Composting MethodI loved this idea of composting.  No tree stumps were available for me to compost.  So I modified this idea using lots of branches and garden debris.  Last fall I started making a long pile of these.  I would layer my pile with leaves, compost and soil , then garden debris and then repeat.  If making a mound with tree stumps works I feel that my method will work also!  You can get an idea of my mound from this picture.  It is about 2 feet high.  I am going to plant it with Tahitian Melon Squash.  I will keep you posted on how it progresses! Continue reading

Sticks in the Compost Pile

Have you ever wondered about putting sticks in the compost pile?  And I also mean dead flower stalks which are often similar to sticks.  I have had this question for a while about putting sticks in the compost pile.  Because what are you supposed to do with all the sticks and dead flower stalks that come from a garden and a yard (if you have any trees…) every season.

Experimenting with Sticks in the Compost Pile

So last year I decided to put sticks in the compost pile.  And dead flower and vegetable stalks.  I figured what the heck–I didn’t want to put them in the trash.  I also thought that they would provide air pockets in the compost because everything can’t squish together with sticks and stalks criss crossing in the compost pile.

Now a Year Later…

You live and you learn or should I say I live and I learn.  My compost is ready but the sticks and stalks have not composted.  They are really a pain in the neck as I dig out my compost.  They are so annoying.  I always have to pick them out.  Here is a picture of some sticks and sunflower stalks that did not compost in my pile.

It is a matter of opinion about how annoying these non -composted sticks and stalks are.  It  could be that it wouldn’t bother you at all.  In the meantime, I have decided that I am not including sticks in my compost pile anymore.  And that also includes dead flower and vegetable stalks.  Some dead flower stalks are just like sticks.  For example, sunflower stalks are large and rigid.  Pepper stalks are also quite rigid and hard.  So now I have a new dilemma.  What am I going to do with the sticks that fall from my trees and all the dead flower and vegetable stalks at the end of the season.  I do not want to send them to the landfill–that is for sure!  I am thinking about modified Hügelkultur.  I have already started working on this idea and will share more about it in my next blog post.