Another humble hugel

I’m probably overdoing it on the hugelkultur here. I mean, I don’t even know for sure if it really works! But since I can’t help but overdo things, I went ahead and made one of my worst, soggiest beds into a long, low heap of branches, covered with brush I cleared out from around the garden fence.

I drug some of the last logs out of the forest. I’m running out of wood, which I guess means I’ll be forced to quit this hugel madness soon. Or maybe it means I need a chainsaw.


those are heavier than they look.

Alea alternated between being droopy and whiny and demanding I hold her hand so she could step carefully over twigs that wouldn’t stop a mouse, and being kind of a kickass helper finding sticks in the woods bigger than she was and dragging them along, stubbornly refusing to give up or take the smaller ones I suggested (hm, wonder who she got that attitude from.)

I’ll look on the bright side and chalk up the whininess to pre-naptime ennui, and the superkid to a preview of what the future might hold if I’m lucky. Garden slave labor, I mean helpers, wooo!


she was so proud of this chunk of wood she found by herself.


So for the times that she wasn’t whining: A plus for yesterday, Lilu. You even held still and smiled for a picture. If the sun had shone at that moment, my head might have exploded.

Today I managed to get most of the bed covered in a 50/50 mixture of woodchips and chicken compost (which is already cooking hot in my pallet bin, by the way, and steamed like crazy when I forked it up!) Looking around on the internets, I’m seeing a lot of other people using a lot more complex stuff in their hugels; grass, kitchen scraps, biochar, bones of their enemies, stuff like that. I’m wondering if mine will end up doing all right without all that diversity.

Here’s the pile weighed down with the mulch layer, with a three year old for scale:


smiling for this picture is about all the help she contributed today.


It needs a few more loads to finish up the end where you can see some sticks poking out – but it was naptime and we needed snacks.

So it’s a very humble hugel (they’re supposed to be 6 feet tall for the most benefit). It might get a bit taller though; this chips/poo combo is just the first layer. As soon as it stops raining, I can mow up all those delinquent Fall leaves still lying around in 6″ deep mats killing our grass, and put those on top too. I hope that will suffice for now, because it was only after I finished today’s work that I realized… I have no soil to put on top for the final layer. (I mean, the whole point of building the thing is that most of my soil is under water!) Uh, pretty big oops.

Well, it’s an experiment, right? The way I figure, a gigantic pile of compost can’t go wrong in the long run. I mixed in a bunch of organic fertilizer too, sprinkled on a bunch of blood meal for extra nitrogen, and hoped that in straw bale gardening style it would speed up compost bacteria reproduction enough that I might be able to plant in it in about a month. With straw bale gardening, you water blood meal into straw bales every day for 12 days, and voila they are ready to plant into. I figure wood chips might take a bit longer. Hm, maybe I should make a straw bale garden in the next bed over and compare the two.

Oh great, another experiment…



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