Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hugelkultur Update 6/27/13

     So far we have built two wood filled gardens on our property.  These are not true hugelkultur, a German term meaning mound culture,  as hugelkultur are usually about 6' tall and planted on the sides.  I use the term, for lack of a better one, to reference the fact that they are build on a base of large chunks of wood, in this case a combination of logs and branches, filled in with aged wood chips. 

     The first of the beds we built last fall, so it has had the winter to settle in and start breaking down.  We call this our hugelkultur in a swale with lasagna on top rain garden.  Click the link to view my post on constructing it.

     The pic above shows the area last year before construction.  A weedy mess with heavy clay soil.  The black plastic is a lame attempt to smother some of the bindweed, alfalfa, and grass that dominate.

     Below you can see what it looks like today.  So far I am quite pleased with the results, and that is saying a lot considering how labor intensive these beds are to build.  It has barely settled at all, and so far everything we have planted seems to like it.  We did top it off with some nice black topsoil from digging out the new hugel bed before planting this spring.  There are too many plants to list right now, a combination of flowers, vegetables and herbs.  Although this type of bed is not supposed to hit its peak for several years, I can already see the potential.  The only maintenance issue so far has been bind weed, which I spend 10 min or so a few times a week picking out from between the rocks  and the hens and chicks which are the areas where we couldn't use the kill layer of cardboard.

     The new hugel bed that we built this spring is also doing very well.  Click here to view the post on constructing it. 

     As you can see in the before pic above, the area was just grass along the rock border that separates our driveway from the small yard next to our house.  The pic is from this May, when we started the project.  Less than two months later we have the pic below, which I took this morning.

     Below is a pic from the opposite end.

     Everything in this bed is doing fantastically well.  The basil, cilantro, and parsley are already harvest able.  The Tomatoes are just starting to flower.  Loads of pollinators are buzzing around.  

Celosia (upper left),  Amish Cockscomb (lower left),
and Petunia (lower right) all starting to flower.

Amish Paste Tomatoes (my seed saving project this year)
Greatly out performing their siblings in the square foot and straw bale gardens.

Liatris is about to bloom as well.  The dandelions seedlings are the first weeds in the bed so far.  
If we eat them, do they still count as weeds?

The Borage (above) is flowering along with the comfrey.  
Those two seem to be magnets for beneficial insects.

Hundreds of these tiny parasitic wasps are flying around.  They feed on pollen as adults, then lay their eggs in caterpillars, destroying many garden pests.

For whatever reason, only one out of the three Goji berries that we 
got from Jung survived transplant shock.  It seems to be doing well though.

Oh my god this Sweet Genovese Basil smells amazing!And I get to walk past it every time I leave or come home.  Another good reason to move the gardens close to the house.

A couple of young cucumbers in front of the small decorative trellis we picked up.

Finally we got some parsley to grow.  Last year was a dud, and two years ago we forgot.

Two different kinds of mushrooms are popping up all over. 
Not for eating, but it's a good sign that mycelium are colonizing the wood below.

     So far I am calling this experimental garden a major success.  Thank you permaculture!

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