Friday, November 18, 2011

Hugelkultur - creating fertile soil with composting wood


John Robb of Global Guerrillas has an interesting post on Reclaiming Dead Soil through Hugelkultur which is a process of composting wood into a raised bed. Best to start with already rotting wood, as fresh wood consumes nitrogen early in the rotting process, so if your wood has not really started to rot, you should throw a lot of grass clippings in the process.

Personally, I throw everything (including, occasionally, sawdust and wood scraps) into my compost pile, and then layer the compost with composted horse manure on the raised beds in the spring before planting. Next year I'm going to break down and roto-till, because I need to get better control of the overall weed situation, and after tilling, I can lay out some material to keep the weeds down (I'm disabled and lazy and weeding is just too much work). I'm thinking that this Hugelkultur idea might be good for around the border, creating a barrier and a nice way to grow clover, which provides nitrogen and something for the rabbits to eat before they find their way into the garden.

Hugelkultur beds do take years to mature, so get started soon!

This all reminds me of Mort Mather's old saying that the soil is a bank, and you can't make withdrawals until you've made deposits.