Want to try a new method of sustainable gardening that maximizes space and minimizes work? Build a hugelkultur bed!
If you’ve spent any time browsing around on gardening websites, you may have come across a weird-sounding term: hugelkultur (it’s pronounced hoo-gul-culture). Many gardeners (especially in Europe and the U.K.) swear by this unique method of gardening. Hugelkultur, which translates to “hill culture” or “mound,” involves growing fruit and vegetables in a raised bed – but this isn’t your typical kind of raised bed…
This interesting no-dig gardening method utilizes logs as a base for your beds, and the beds are designed to retain moisture, increase fertility, and maximize the surface area of your available garden space.
As the wood decays, it releases nutrients for your plants, and since this is a very slow process, the benefits can last for many years without adding any other fertilizer to your beds. The beds also sequester carbon, and as the wood absorbs water and releases it slowly like a sponge, they should not need frequent watering once your hugelkultur beds are well established.
To build a hugelkultur bed of your own, you will need to build a mound starting with logs, branches, and leaves. Then add grass clippings, compost, straw, or whatever other materials you have available. Add soil on top, and plant.
While this is a labor-intensive process to start with, once your beds are established, they may last up to 20 years, depending on the type of wood and other materials used.
This short time-lapse video shows the 10 steps to building your own hugelkultur bed: