Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Inverted Hugelkultur

We're getting most of our ideas for the garden out of Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture. Aaron, Kevin and I were standing around looking at the nearly 2 yards of fill dirt Aaron got delivered (free).

Aaron said, "I ordered mulch, too, but the arborists put us on a two-week waiting list. What should we do? Should we use this dirt to just fill all the bed a few inches?"

"Let me get the book, and see what Toby says," I said. I found this: Hugelkultur is a central European technique of piling up dead wood and brush, stomping it down, adding some compostibles on top, and then topping it off with a bit of compost and an inch of soil. The stuff on the bottom decomposes slowly and acts like a sponge, releasing nutrients as well as providing water.

When I trimmed the willow, much of the wood was already rotten and spongy. We decided we'd use the dirt we had so far to make a sort of bathtub shape in one of the lobes of the raised bed, then we broke up and soaked down a fair amount of decomposing willow woood, and buried it under some more dirt. We've now got a bed that's a couple of feet high, with a reservior of water and nutrients sequestered within.

"Wow," Aaron said, "all that dirt didn't make much of a bed. I think I'd better get 10 more yards."

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