in gardening •  2 months ago

This is an experiment that I wanted to do for a while.

Hugelkulture is a way of using wood to build soil. Basically, rather than burning logs, branches, and twigs, they are mounded up with other organic material into a mound and then you plant crops in it. Over time, the mound breaks down and turns into soil.

Since I've got plenty of wood material that I'd rather not just torch to get rid of, I figured a couple hugel mounds would be a great idea. The mounds not only help build soil, but they retain moisture and also produce heat as they break down, so they basically create a small microclimate in the garden. Again, this is just an experiment, and I've taken no permaculture design courses or the likes, I'm just learning and experimenting.

I saved a large raised bed specifically for this project. I used a number of relatively new branches, some rotting logs, fallen leaves, and soiled straw from our poultry house. I've got a few layers to go, but I'm off to a great start! Here are some photos.


What do you think? Have you ever built a hugel mound? Have you heard of them before? Would you want to build one in your garden, or on your property? Stay tuned and I'll show you the finished project, since I've still got more to add.

Until next time…


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Hello my friend! :D
This is the first I've heard of it myself, I'll have to ask my handsome husband if he's ever heard of it and see if he'd like to build one of our own, it looks like a neat experiment. :D
God bless you and your wonderful family. :D Have an awesome day my fabulous friend! :D


It'll put off some heat too, so it should nicely way up north! Thanks for checking it out!

Hugel? Sounds like a made up word but after reading all the comments I guess it is real. Well Sir, I guess I will have to wait for the next installment of this experiment to see how well it works!

@papa-pepper don't limit yourself to "old dead wood and straw. you can also add in leaves that you have pruned, vegetable matter that is just to big for the compost pile and other stuff. It looks like you are at a GREAT start so keep on keepin on!!
Have fun!


Oh yeah, I'm putting lots of stuff in it! Thanks for the encouragement!


Oh yeah, I'm putting
Lots of stuff in it! Thanks for
The encouragement!

                 - papa-pepper

I'm a bot. I detect haiku.

That’s very interesting. Last year I tried something similar but much smaller. The neighbor has a Sweetgum tree which drops what can best be described as what looks like little mines. Little spikey balls that hurt when you step on them. Anyway, I piled a bunch of them up, added some sifted compost and planted some potatoes. Seems to be working.

I love using hugel beds. We have a few here on our homestead. I find them especially useful here in NC because of the amount of rain we get. When I first started my garden in ground, a lot of stuff drowned and rotted. I built more hugels this year in prep for another wet season. Having things up high in hugels helps drainage and keeps them from swimming / drowning. :) It also allows you to start growing sooner because it stays pretty warm down in the center, warming up the roots. I grew my artichokes in a nice hugle last year and got some large and beautiful plants. I just topped it off with a good thick layer of 1/2 way composted woodchips as it has settled a good bit since last year. You won't regret growing in hugels.


Wow, so cool! I hadn't thought about how they'd help get things up out of the soggy soil in some places. Thanks for chiming in!

I intend to build one in my new garden but need to find it first. But this is coming up a long the universe is telling me something hey 💯🐒

That’s also one experiment in my todo list but above it in the list is buy a house with a larger land... I’m interested to see your results.

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Excellent! I hope you'll get everything going soon enough. Thanks!

Woah, I’ve never heard of that, but it sounds interesting! I wonder if hubby and I can find a spot to try it out up here.... 🤔 Do you know if it matters what type of wood you use? I’ve heard some evergreens produce an acid that keeps stuff from growing near them, but I don’t know if that’s just while the tree is alive.


I'm avoiding using cedar and black walnut in mine, so I think it could matter.

That's very exciting! I have seen a little about it, it looks like a great plan for sustainable growing without soil depletion. Can't wait to see how it goes.

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I am interested in how the project does go?

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This is basically a compost heap. Here, the local sanitation company does the same on a large scale, with what we call "bio waste". Thats everything from cut down trees to food leftovers, everything that rotts. To speed up the rotting they shredder the big stuff like wood first. The way you do it, it will take several years to turn into soil. However, during that time, it will be a valuable refuge for animals, from insects and reptiles to small mamals.

Yes!!! Love it, that's a huge hugel! I keep ours small like a raised bed, but traditionally they're like yours, up to 3 or 4 meters tall!

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I started a huge mound years ago, not to grow on top of, but as a basic compost pile. It has decomposed over the years and is now basically dirt for the most part. I started it to hide a house behind me which I really did not want to see. It worked out nicely. If I needed I could dig into it and have some awesome soil. I love what you are doing.


Very, very cool! Thanks for sharing!

So do you cover the sticks with dirt in the end or what keeps the seeds from just washing away. If I'm going to find out in a future update I can wait until then, but looks like a really cool experiment.


I've got a ways to go, and it'll have a layer of compost, topsoil, and then straw to top it off. I've got a few cool plans too for it, so I hope that you see the next one. (We are about to have our sixth child, so I'm not sure when it'll get done, but I'm hoping soon) Thanks!


yeah my youngest is just about to be 1 and if I don't stay up after they go to bed or get up before they wake up, I pretty much don't get anything I want to do so I completely understand. Looking forward to seeing the finish and more progress on future updates.

This is the first I've heard of Hugel mounds. Once again I've learned something new by tuning in to @papa-pepper. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

I’m thinking of trying a hugel bed at the ranch. good luck with yours!

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I hadn't heard about a hugel mound before...but the pictures make it look like you got it stacked a bit too high for plants to start. Though I'm sure you could put some dirt on top. Maybe it's just the angle though.

Sounds like technically those using wood mulch are kinda doing this. At least the ones that leave it to break down and keep putting more on top.


This will actually be built up even higher, with a layer of compost, topsoil, and then straw to top it off. It's a good way to put full logs and branches to use without having to wood-chipper them.


This is the objectives:


Yes, I understand the concept. It just seemed like not enough dirt to plant on at the top from the pics.


Right, I'm just getting started on this one. I've got more work before it'll be ready to plant.

Can’t wait to see the finish product.
Keep on postin

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Thanks @pouchon!

I’ve never heard of that. Very cool! We compost our food waste, but we’ve always burned our yard waste. Jason and I need to check into this!


Yeah, we are huge composters, and I'm glad to be experimenting with this now too.