In the late spring of 2011 John and I broke ground on our first raised garden bed. After researching various methods we decided to utilize the hugelkultur method where you bury rotting wood underneath your soil. This serves several purposes. First, it provides nutrients to your garden. Second, it provides water to your garden during times of drought (the soil loses moisture faster than the wood). Third, it provides natural aeration (brings oxygen to your soil). Fourth, it provides beneficial bugs with a reason to dig around in your soil. Fifth, the decomposition of the wood provides warmth to your plants’ roots at during the late fall and early spring, extending your gardening season.
I literally watered our first and best made hugelkultur bed three times this summer. And it wasn’t just any summer. Months of 100+ degree heat and little rain for weeks at a time left many gardens suffering. Not ours. It flourished with very little maintenance! Our tomatoes were planted in flower beds that already existed on our property before we arrived (no hugelkultur beds) and I had to water them two to three times a week. That’s a huge difference in hose-water consumption!
Here our photos from our hugelkulture experiment (more at www.blushfamilyfarm.com):
Below you see the empty bed. Two cinder blocks high, with one layer of cinder blocks buried below ground level.
Next you see our cinder block-high layer of wood inside the raised bed.
We then alternated horse manure and soil that originated from the hole where we made the bed.
Again, for more pics from our home garden please visit www.BlushFamilyFarm.com!
Here is a photo thread on the Survival Podcast that shows pics of other people building massive hugelkultur beds! http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=28431.0