Hügelkultur is a German word, defining a kind of low maintenance garden bed. Hügelkultur beds help retain moisture, create fertility for the soil, increase drainage, and give a better taste for some fruits.
If you have a small garden in the suburbs or a family farm, you will have to clean the garden regularly. If there are woody trees in your garden, there are bound to be broken pieces of tree trunks or twigs and a large amount of weeds. Instead of burning, or paying someone to discard them each time to reorganize the garden, please try creating a Hügelkultur bed in your garden.
Irrigation is an indispensable task if you decide to garden, but there would be some ways to make this task simpler, making our lazy farmer dreams nearer. Richsoil.com’s experienced expert says that the advantage of Hügelkultur beds is that you could grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization if you create a high enough Hügelkultur beds. Since the 2nd year, farming without doses, drip systems is great. If the Hügelkultur bed is 1.8 m high, it can resist a summer without raining (after the first month the bed will shrink a bit so it should initially be 2m high). If your bed is about 60cm tall, you can go on holiday for 3 weeks, without worrying about your garden.
|hugelkultur after one month||hugelkultur after one year||hugelkultur after two years||hugelkultur after twenty years|
Year after year, layers of decomposing materials gradually create tremendously rich fertility for the deep soil layer. When the layer of wood buried under the bed shrinks, more air pockets will be created, the Hügelkultur bed will inflate itself. The air and nutrient pockets generated during decomposition are great for plant root development. In the early years, the decomposition process will warm the soil layer and the plant’s growing season will last longer. The layer of wood and tree branches also helps store excess nutrients in the soil without being washed out into the groundwater and continues to supply the tree. Water is also better kept, so less irrigation is required. This farming method has been used effectively in Germany and Eastern European countries for hundreds of years.
Creating raised garden beds may not seem strange to our local farmers, however, the high raised garden beds of Germany style have other advantages such as reusing garden waste, convenient harvesting (thanks to their high structure), and less watering.
Materials that can make beds
- Excess wood logs
- Leftover branches after pruning.
- Leaves, grass, straw.
- Cardboard, old newspapers.
- All organic products.
How to make a bed
- First, you need to clear the lawn for the bed. In small areas, Hugelkultur beds can be made by hand, but if the area is larger, the support of the machine is necessary. The bigger the bed the better, because the larger the area the more trees can grow, and the longer it will last.
- Dig tract. The trench should be deep enough and wide enough to hold the amount of waste in your garden that you plan to clean up. In large areas, you can dig a ditch 1 to 1.5 m depth and 1.5 to 2 m width. The larger it is, the more plants it will grow, and the longer it will be used (usually this way can provide nutrients for your garden for years).
- Cover material with grooves. When arranging bed material, note that large bulky logs that take a long time to decompose will be placed at the bottom (either horizontal or vertical depending on you) => followed by layers of twigs, pieces of wood or rotted wood part => next is the leaf layer after cleaning the garden, grass, cardboard, paper, organic waste => covered with soil layer on the surface. The more material the tree has, the better the beds.
The ideal bed height is usually from 1m to 1.5m (the bed slope is from 45⁰ to 90⁰), which is suitable for the height of normal people, which can be very convenient for harvesting fruits.
If you do not want the bed to be too high on the ground, you can dig deeper underground, if you do not have the right to raise it immediately, you can cover it gradually over the years.
In the eyes of the landscape architect, the mound of 1-2m-tall tree land is fertile and sustainable over the years with irresistible beauty, an inspiration for many creations.
Some bed shapes may apply:
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|standard hugelkultur||narrower hugelkultur||peaked hugelkultur||hugelkultur with a stone border||hugelkultur with a log border|
Types of plants that can be grown on Hügelkultur beds:
Sun-loving trees should be planted in the direction of sunlight (afternoon sunlight), trees that need less sunlight planted on the shadow of the bed, hard trees should be planted on opposite sides of the wind direction, weak trees planted in the inner canopy are covered. The bed is placed along the North to the South to maximize sun exposure, the tree will have more energy to grow fast and healthy. Fruit trees planted next to the bed will have many opportunities to absorb nutrients from rotting wood.
Most vegetables can be grown on Hügelkultur beds, you can choose according to your family’s favorite vegetables, here below are some examples of plants:
- Lettuce, spinach.
- Cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi…
- Pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber …
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes (especially good for the first year), peanuts …
- Celery, asparagus.
- Beans, green beans, black.
- Onions, garlic, shallots.
Each of you can grow a little alternating