A few weekends ago, Hugelkultur descended on Louisville.
What is it?
Hugelkultur (hoogle culture) is essentially a raised bed or berm with a wood core, some times called wood core gardening. This method automatically supercharges the bed with a great supply of nutrients, attracts soil-building organisms, and creates a “sponge” of sorts that helps regulate soil saturation. For more information, visit: http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/
Our hugelkultur beds were actually not built on one weekend. They were a culmination of months of collection over the winter. Anytime we saw large limbs, bags of leaves, or even Christmas trees out on a curb, we snagged them and began shaping our beds.
Then, we ordered a BIG load of mulch and soil. We got 12 cubic yards- 8 of topsoil, 4 of mulch. We moved it all with 2 people, 1 wheelbarrow, and a lot of hard work in two days.
We chose to make the main Hugel bed on-contour in a large, mostly unused space in our backyard. The shape and front slope face southwest, creating a Sun trap. The front face will now be hotter and drier, the back cooler and more shaded. With these main microclimates we intend to explore the prime location for many of our favorite crops. We also decided to make another smaller one against the fence on the East side of the yard with some of the excess material.
Our plantings were planned out with thought as to what goes well together. For example, Lime Basil, Cilantro, Roma Tomato, and jalapeño are all together in one “salsa” section of the garden for easy access and harvest. We made an effort to put groupings of the same tomato breed together and leave some space between different groupings to minimize cross breeding for seed saving. We learned our lesson after getting a full harvest of strange, hybrid squashes after last year.