Have you used Hügelkultur methods in the past?

If you've tried this method, please tell the Community about it.

How did you do it? What materials did you use?



  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,503 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've not yet, but I want to when I have the property to do it.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,319 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have not but I've thought about it - if I were to start a new bed. A couple years ago I did dig out a large trench next to where I was going to plant my tomatoes and filled it with food scraps. I had the biggest tomato plants that year with a lot of tomatoes. Since I did that and also I think the mulching of my beds I had a major overgrowth of pill bugs (rolly pollies). Last year they ate my seedlings so this spring I took up the mulch in order to get rid of them. I made walkways around my garden beds with it and the pill bugs stayed there instead of eating my plants (for the most part) this summer and no issues with them this winter.

    All that to say you never know what you invite into your garden by adding all of the decomposing items but it is good to experiment because you learn new things.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I tried a mini-hugelkultur as an experiment and it was a total failure.

    My yard soil is heavy clay, and while fertile, water is retained on top of it. It's so heavy that few things can grow proper roots in it. When I dig up grass, I can pick up the dug-out grass by its blades and pick up a block of clay soil the size of my head without it fall apart.

    So about 2 - 3 years ago, I turned over a bed of soil about 4 ft x 4 ft (), chopped the clay in it thoroughly with hoe and shovel, and add as much partially-rotten wood as I could find from my woods. I also added a fair amount of fallen leaves.

    This was not the big pile of rotting wood and other organic matter that would be a true hugelkultur. This was a mini-attempt.

    It didn't work at all. The wood hasn't done much more rotting, even though it was already partially rotting when placed. The clay is as hard as ever. I'm abandoning the effort.

    I believe that hugelkultur has to be done at scale, with very large piles of wood and other organic material. It's like composting in that sense. Composting tiny piles doesn't work well because they won't heat up. There is a minimum pile size to make good compost, and the same appears to be true of hugelkultur.

  • Margaret
    Margaret Posts: 6 ✭✭✭

    I have 3 raised beds, depth of 18 inches. When filling each bed, I first put in a layer of logs, bark scraps, and branches. The first year for each bed is not remarkable. For subsequent years I do feel that the plants look bigger and healthier. However, I also do a heavy mulch of leaves and grass every fall and that could also be contributing to the plant's health. I do wonder if the layer of dirt is too thick on the wood and interfering with its breakdown.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Margaret It would be interesting for you to try that technique in a bed that you deliberately don't mulch.

    Any time we add a lot of mulch and compost, the mulch & compost is going to make things grow well. The real benefit of alternate techniques like hugelkultur is when you don't have enough mulch or compost to go around.