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
I 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!