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.