Hugelkultur (HOO-gul-culture) meaning hill culture or hill mound.

Instead of putting those branches, leaves and grass clippings in bags by the curbside...build a hugel bed. Simply mound logs, branches, leaves, grass clippings, straw, cardboard, petroleum-free newspaper, manure, compost or whatever other biomass you have available, top with soil and plant your veggies.

The advantages of a hugel bed are many:

The gradual decay of wood is a consistent source of long-term nutrients for the plants. A large bed might give out a constant supply of nutrients for 20 years (or even longer if you use only hardwoods). The composting wood also generates heat which should extend the growing season.

Soil aeration increases as those branches and logs break down...meaning the bed will be no till, long term.

The logs and branches act like a sponge. Rainwater is stored and then released during drier times. Actually you may never need to water your hugel bed again after the first year (except during long term droughts).

Sequester carbon into the soil.


hugel bed

On a sod lawn Sepp Holzer (hugelkultur expert) recommends cutting out the sod, digging a 1 foot deep trench and filling the trench with logs and branches. Then cover the logs with the upside down turf. On top of the turf add grass clippings, seaweed, compost, aged manure, straw, green leaves, mulch, etc... From the Permaculture book by Sepp Holzer. Via: Permaculture Magazine: permaculturetools.wikispaces.com.pdf


hugel bed

Hugel and traditional bed comparison. Cantaloupe plants from same seed packet. Hugel bed on right was planted two weeks after traditional bed on left. By Marcella: saponaria-wortsandall.blogspot.com


hugel bed

Hugel bed in Ontario, Canada.
By Travis Philp. Wood branches stacked 1 foot high.
greenshireecofarms.com


hugel bed

Hugel bed in Ontario, Canada. As above.
Branches covered with manure mixed with hay, 4-6". Sod was packed into random holes. greenshireecofarms.com



hugel bed

Hugel beds covered in lettuces.
www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur


hugelkultur

Hugelkultur - nice use of pallets around periphery.
By Mike Sved of northern Ontario.
www.permies.com


hugel bed

Steep hugel bed.
The more wood inside your hugelkutur, the less water it will need, possibly no supplemental water after establishment. With size more heat will be generated and obviously it will last longer. www.shtfpreparedness.com


hugel bed

Sepp Holzer recommends steep hugel beds to avoid compaction from increased pressure over time. Steep beds mean more surface area in your garden for plants and the height makes easy harvesting. The greater the mass, the greater the water-retention benefits. Image from the Sepp Holzer's Permaculture. Via: Permaculture Magazine: permaculturetools.wikispaces.com.pdf


hugel bed

A Sepp Holzer Hugelkultur garden.
www.krameterhof.at


hugel bed

Sepp Holzer uses the terrain, ponds, swales and hugelkulture to direct water to where it is needed on this Montana farm. www.holzeragroecology.com


hugel bed

Hugelkulture. Height can be decreased by partially burying the bed. Final bed size 75′ long, 4' wide trench, finished size 6′ at the base, separated by 2′ access paths. Wood height is 8-12" on tilled clay, finished size 30" high from bottom of trench. Rob is making beds for potatoes and he feels they will last up to ten years. Interesting read: onestrawrob.com


hugelkutur

Hunderculture with frame.
newwavegardeningexperiment.wordpress.com


hugel bed

Hugel bed dug in clay with logs put in vertically, next branches and lots of wood chips. Top 6" will be wood chips and dirt. This bed will store water and give nutrients for many years to come. More: lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com

 

hugel bed

Small scale hugel bed. 
As raised beds tend to be a bit drier than traditional beds, a hugel bed is a good solution for a raised bed in a dry climate. homesteadingdownsized.com


hugel bed

Hugel beds in process by Caleb Larson, Montana.
The drier your area, the more wood you need to hold moisture.
www.permies.com


hugel bed

Hugel beds by Jon in Idaho.
www.permies.com


hugel bed

Hugel Bed by WSU Master Recycler Composters, Lewis County, Washington. The stones are sure to keep extra heat in the bed. Step by step Images: lewiscountyrecycles.org


hugel bed

Straw bale gardens require less soil, less water and hold heat. As the straw breaks down nutrients feed the plants. Combining a straw surround with a hugel interior, topped by lasagna layering is an excellent idea for an area with poor quality soil. naturespilgrim.com

hugel bed

Straw bale hugel bed by Jamie in Wisconsin.
An instant nutrient rich border for your hugelkultur.
You can also do a hugelkultur right on top of the sod.
If excess soil is not available sheet mulch or lasagna garden on top of the logs/branches. smalltowngardens.blogspot.com


hugel bed

Haygulkulture - using hay instead of wood will give you a bed that supplies moisture and nutrients for about five years instead of the log's ten to twenty, plus. By Gerald Benard. www.permies.com


hugel bed

Hugel bed in Ontario, Canada (June 28) by Tim Burrows.
Tim surrounded his very tall hugel bed in pallets!
Read more about it here: permies.com



hugelkultur

One plant hugelkultur by Eric Markov.
Start small! Whenever you plant add some wood logs and compost. One could also treat an old below ground level tree stump as a hugelkultur, as the old stump will bring up water and decompose, adding nutients to the soil. lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com


hugelkultur mulch

Sheet mulching (lasagna gardening) is like composting in place. Above: just a suggestion as to sheet mulching layers. Nitrogen-rich material such as fresh grass clippings or green leaves put right on the hugelkultur wood would help jump start the composting process. Could also include seaweed, straw, dead leaves, leaf mold, etc...

The first year of break down means the wood (and fungi) steal a lot of the nitrogen out of the surrounding environment, so adding nitrogen during the first year or planting crops that add nitrogen to the soil (like legumes) or planting species with minimal nitrogen requirements is necessary, unless there is plenty of organic material on top of the wood. After the wood absorbs nitrogen to its fill, the wood will start to break down and start to give nitrogen back in the process. In the end you will be left with a beautiful bed of nutrient rich soil.


Tree types that work well in hugelkultur:

Hard woods break down slowly and therefore your hugel bed will last longer, hold water for more years and add nutrients for more years. But soft woods are acceptable as well, a softwood bed will just disintegrate quicker. Mixing woods with soft woods and branches on top, to give off nutrients first, and hardwoods on bottom, sounds like a plan if you have access to multiple types of wood. Yet the newly decomposing soft woods at top will eat up a lot of nitrogen at first, so compensate for that.

Woods that work best:
Alders, apple, aspen, birch, cottonwood, maple, oak, poplar, willow (make sure it is dead).

Trees types that work okay:
Black cherry (use only rotted), camphor wood (well aged), cedar/juniper/yew (anti-microbial/anti-fungal, so use only at very bottom or unless already well aged. Cedar should be broken down before new plant roots reach it), eucaplyptus (slightly anti-microbial), osage orange (exceptionally resistant to decay), Pacific yew (exceptionally resistant to decay), pine/fir/spruce (tannins and sap), red mulberry (exceptionally resistant to decay).

Tree types to avoid:
Black locust (will not decompose), black walnut (juglone toxin), old growth redwood (heartwood will not decompose and redwood compost can prevent seed germination).






Resources:
 

1- Hugelkultur: The ultimate raised garden beds by Paul Wheaton 

2- Sepp Holzer's Permaculture, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011.
3- The Art and Science of Making a Hugelkultur Bed – Transforming Woody Debris
    into a Garden Resource: permaculture.org.au

4- Hugelkultur: Composting Whole Trees With Easepermaculturenews.org
5- Tall beds built by Sepp: ecology.md
6- Step by step backyard photos: knoxvillepermacultureguild.com


 

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Einar D. G. Gunnlaugsson.
Posts: 32
Comment
Hugelkultur
Reply #32 on : Wed November 19, 2014, 04:41:31
Hi
I have a question hope that´s OK :)
Why are the Hugelkultur beds often designed in bends forms, is there a differ between a bent and straight Hugelkultur beds and if so what is it ?
Anonymous
Posts: 32
Comment
Carson City Restaurants
Reply #31 on : Sat October 25, 2014, 06:43:41
Link exchange is nothing else however it is only placing the other person's website link on your page at suitable place and other person will also do same in support of you.
katesisco
Posts: 32
Comment
hugelkultur
Reply #30 on : Thu September 18, 2014, 21:44:12
Wonderful article. thanks.
Long lasting way to garden and landscape!
Anonymous
Posts: 32
Comment
Re: Hugelkultur
Reply #29 on : Sun September 14, 2014, 17:03:59
Woops, I left out the L, that should read 'stakes'
Joan
Posts: 32
Comment
Re: Hugelkultur
Reply #28 on : Sun September 14, 2014, 17:02:19
Also if you have a retaining wall try planting your tomatoes behind it and let them hang over the wall, no need for sakes.
Anonymous
Posts: 32
Comment
Re: Hugelkultur
Reply #27 on : Sun September 14, 2014, 16:58:27
This looks a great idea. But in my area also with the wood a great attraction for termites. I might try it anyway.
Keiren
Posts: 32
Comment
To Daryl
Reply #26 on : Sun August 31, 2014, 09:47:34
I see bury the stump in soil and plant upon that...

Sure. I have seen that done. I would chop up the stump a bit though. Just to give it more surface to absorb water.

I would say you need at least six inches of soil atop the stump. I would also build up around the sides of the stump with bales of hay or sticks, leaves, etc if you have any available.

I would also mix compost, manure, decomposed leaves etc as my soil...

Hope that turns out well!
Daryl
Posts: 32
Comment
using an old stump as hugelkulture bed
Reply #25 on : Sun August 31, 2014, 08:34:47
Hi, I came across your website when researching hugelkulture and was wondering if I could get some advice? I live in South Florida where it is hot, humid and rainy. I have an area in my back yard where I had a tree cut down a few years ago and the stump which is beginning to rot still remains. Can I use this as a hugelkulture bed? Also, my soil is terrible here so I will have to purchase some. Any advice on what to get and how high over the stump I should pile the dirt to make this work?
Yuly
Posts: 32
Comment
Scrap concrete
Reply #24 on : Fri August 15, 2014, 12:30:24
Hi there!
Can I use scrap concrete to do a raised bed?
Roxanne Falkenstein
Posts: 32
Comment
pine/fir
Reply #23 on : Tue July 15, 2014, 12:58:31
Sepp told us that fir/pine is very commonly used by himself and at the Krameterhof, that the tannins break down quite quickly.
I shared this article on my facebook page about hugelkultur.. great job.
Michelle Laban
Posts: 32
Comment
Hugelkulturl
Reply #22 on : Fri June 20, 2014, 09:25:56
This looks so amazing to me, I cant believe the word is not all over the front page news. I am re-posting and spreading the word, I have a yard FULL of branches from the last ice storm (waiting for the landlord to get a tree person over there, lol, DUH). Thank you!
Dave
Posts: 32
Comment
Small Scale Hugelkulturl
Reply #21 on : Mon June 09, 2014, 23:19:56
to Shane Ross Smaller Scale Hugelkultur
I have no idea what I am doing but am a long time gardener. After hearing of this method I started a 6X3' raised bed in my greenhouse and am really excited about it. Started with a bed of rotted maple firewood, some grass clippings, fresh overgrown spinach, used potting soil from many 15 gallon pots, compost and topped with organic potting soil. I will plant immediately and hope for a winter crop of at least beets, carrots, spinach, micro greens, radishes, Chinese cabbage
etc. Wish me luck. It looks almost foolproof
Wendy
Posts: 32
Comment
Planting steps
Reply #20 on : Wed April 30, 2014, 06:47:04
Wondering if someone can answer a question about my Hugelkulture bed and the process of seeding. When do I seed? After top soil is put on? Before I add the straw? Do I put soil on then seed then more soil then straw? I can't seem to find the answer.
Please help
Thank you
Rebecca
Posts: 32
Comment
Only branches if no logs?
Reply #19 on : Mon April 21, 2014, 21:38:20
I don't have logs readily available, but I have lots of tree prunings from maple and lilac, maximum diameter 1". Will these work as a base, or do I need logs?
G. Blumer
Posts: 32
Comment
walnut orchard
Reply #18 on : Tue March 18, 2014, 08:46:11
I have two acres of walnuts that I prune annually and have access to cow manure. I would like to improve the compacted soil by trenching between the rows of trees and burying my prunings and manure and plant white clover on the slightly raised surface so I can still harvest my walnuts normally. I am hoping this will add to my soils water holding capacity as well as improve drainage to help diminish the effects of phytophthera fungus which seems to thrive in compacted soil. This seems a better option than burning all the attrition. dDo you have any suggestions on how to improve this plan?
Keiren
Posts: 32
Comment
Thuja
Reply #17 on : Mon January 27, 2014, 16:02:31
Hi Jennifer, I have read that Thuja resists decay. So I agree with you, I think Thuja would be best at the bottom of the pile. I am not finding any info hinting that boxwood might not be suitable for a hugel bed. Some say the cuttings might root... But I do wonder why deer won't touch boxwood.... Maybe you can do a test with a cutting of boxwood placed against a small, sensitive ornamental plant?
Jennifer
Posts: 32
Comment
Thuja
Reply #16 on : Sun January 26, 2014, 17:12:37
I have about 5 thuja trees in our back yard we cut down last summer, I am planning on using them in the bottom of my hugelkutur. Do you think these are ok? I also have a huge boxwood that we cut down, can I add that? Thanks!
Keiren
Posts: 32
Comment
To Shane
Reply #15 on : Tue January 21, 2014, 08:02:22
I think that as long as you use plant friendly wood (not cedar or others listed) or possibly smaller sticks and such, then small scale is fine. There are a few examples on the page. But you are going to need some soil and mulch on top of that wood... I look forward to putting one together myself this spring.

Thanks for writing. Best, Keiren
Shane Ross
Posts: 32
Comment
Smaller Scale Hugelkultur
Reply #14 on : Mon January 20, 2014, 15:01:10
Thanks for posting this! Lots of great info and links to other pages. I shared this on my gardening page on facebook, but I was looking for more information on how to use hugelkultur on a smaller scale. Container gardening wouldn't work, obviously, but I'm hoping to find some info on how to use it in smaller raised beds or less labor intensive methods. Some of my readers wouldn't have any problem making a traditional hugelkultur bed. It would, however, be too labor intensive for some readers and I was trying to find a way that they could reap some of these benefits as well. I was thinking that old fire wood in the bottom of a regular (flat, not piled up) raised bed would still have some benefits, right?
Keiren
Posts: 32
Comment
To D.C.
Reply #13 on : Wed January 15, 2014, 09:59:07
Now that sounds like it will be one giant hugel bed!

You did not mention how deep your pool is and what it is made of. Also are you in an arid or wet environment?

Do you think the pool will collect too much stagnant water? If it has a vinyl liner I would consider putting some holes on the bottom for drainage. My concern would be the collection of water and then a smell from wood and debris that is rotting too rapidly.

Other than the sitting water issue, sounds a great way to use an old swimming pool.

Another idea would be aquaculture (if you eat fish) I plan to do a post on this in the future.

Thanks for writing. Sounds an exciting project!
D.C.Mikell
Posts: 32
Comment
using an empty inground pool for Hugelkultur
Reply #12 on : Tue January 14, 2014, 22:38:27
Was going to fill the pool in with dirt/clay and use as a garden area till I heard about this method. I was wondering if it would be the samething except I would be filling the pool in w/oak, maple, poplar, hickroy, pine as well as decaying wood on my property. I will also be adding straw, cow manure,clay/dirt. Thank you
Keiren
Posts: 32
Comment
Cedar
Reply #11 on : Sun January 05, 2014, 19:41:33
Hi, Alder and oak are good! Cedar is only good if at bottom of pile, or higher up if already broken down. New plant growth does not like freshly cut cedar. Best!
Mug
Posts: 32
Comment
Best types of wood for this?
Reply #10 on : Sat January 04, 2014, 12:18:58
Please let me know whether Alder, Oak and Cedar are good woods for this type of gardening? I read where cottonwood is very good! This is really amazing information! Thank you for providing this site! I am sooooooooo a fan and will spread this information to all the earthy gardeners that I love!! Mug
Mug
Posts: 32
Comment
Hugelkultur
Reply #9 on : Sat January 04, 2014, 12:12:01
Amazing!
Dave Hogan
Posts: 32
Comment
Re: Hugelkultur
Reply #8 on : Fri December 27, 2013, 19:01:30
Newly decomposing woods will eat up a lot of nitrogen. You can compensate for this by adding your own urine to the heap. This is true, I am not takng the piss.
ElenaP
Posts: 32
Comment
Picture#2
Reply #7 on : Tue November 05, 2013, 10:40:50
opps :) forgot to say which picture:
it's sepp%20fb%20h.jpg the ninth from the top. Nice article!
ElenaP
Posts: 32
Comment
Picture
Reply #6 on : Tue November 05, 2013, 10:35:27
Hi there, this picture is not about sepp holzer's place. I've been there in 2011 and it's the Jagawirt, a restaurant + veg garden+pigs etc, that uses permaculture. I have to say in Austria and Germany the hugelbkulture is wide spread and used. Very interesting. In sepp Holzer's place the terraces were abundantly covered by these high beds, and flourishing.
Anonymous
Posts: 32
Comment
Re: Hugelkultur
Reply #5 on : Wed October 09, 2013, 09:06:30
The Hugelkultur.png that is credited to Permaculture Magazine: permaculturetools.wikispaces is actually - and directly from - the Permaculture book by Sepp Holtzer, page 40.
That is where the photo credit should be....
Sandra
Posts: 32
Comment
Information
Reply #4 on : Tue October 01, 2013, 18:01:19
Thank ou for suh useful information!
michael
Posts: 32
Comment
Re: Hugelkultur
Reply #3 on : Tue October 01, 2013, 16:14:29
Great ideas, indeed. I think you mean to say "Hügelkultur" from German "Hügelkultur" (hill culture). Note the Umlaut!
Sheila Tremayne
Posts: 32
Comment
Novice gardener
Reply #2 on : Sat September 28, 2013, 05:48:28
I've just come across your ideas here, and am setting out, at 58, to begin my first veg plot! - I think your ideas are an excellent starting point for me! Thanks.
Twana Casey
Posts: 32
Comment
Article
Reply #1 on : Fri September 27, 2013, 13:08:40
Have been a life long gardener, and have never seen this type of bedding prior..would be perfect for my south Louisiana beds due to the high water level and sandy soil..Will definitely start one this fall.
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