What's New With Farmer Pete: Hugelkultur Raised Garden Beds
Every year I grow the pumpkins in a new area adjacent to Springfield's main veggie garden and quail heaven. When I pick the the pumpkins and pull out the old vines it’s perfect ground for new garden beds, the grass has died off and the ground looks ripe for new edible plants.
Luckily a few weeks ago our friends Savannah and Reno gifted me eight old timber beds they were replacing with new “Birdie” galvanised, high sided raised beds. I was also gifted a couple of old galvanised beds from other friends. So I was excited to plant our new gifted garden. I put 6 of the timber beds on top of one another, to double the height, and decided to make these beds Hugelkultur beds, half filling them with old timber I found at the bottom of the fire wood pile.
The wood had already started to decompose and was well covered in white strands of fungus. Hugelkultur is an ancient form of composting that uses wood as the carbon layer. It breaks down slowly, increasing moisture holding and fertility. Best of all the all important fungi flourishes and transports water and nutrients through the soil to the microorganisms and plant roots. A layer of manure is placed on top of the wood and soil and compost finishes the bed.
There are lots of benefits to a Hugelkultur bed; the decomposing timber generates heat so your soil is warmer, the slowly decomposing timber adds to soil fertility and it’s also a carbon sink. They are great frost protection too, as cold air drops to the lowest point, and because the beds are high the area around the raised bed acts as a frost drain. Hugelkultur beds can also be planted more heavily than traditional beds. So, Savannah and Reno stand by, the gift will be returned… in greens.