Hugelkultur is a fascinating concept that I have come across recently and would like to implement on our property to some degree. Of course I will share any progress on such a journey right here!

So what is it (this is taken with permission from

raised garden beds: hugelkultur instead of irrigation

hugelkultur raised garden beds in a nutshell:

  • grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization
  • has been demonstrated to work in deserts as well as backyards
  • use up rotting wood, twigs, branches and even whole trees that would otherwise go to the dump or be burned
  • it is pretty much nothing more than buried wood
  • can be flush with the ground, although raised garden beds are typically better
  • can start small, and be added to later
  • can always be small – although bigger is better
  • You can save the world from global warming by doing carbon sequestration in your own back yard!
  • perfect for places that have had trees blown over by storms
  • can help end world hunger
  • give a gift to your future self

Please click here to finish article and see lots of good diagrams and videos….

This entry was posted in Garden Diary and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Hugelkultur

  1. Glory Lennon says:

    Didn’t know there was a name to it, but this is s great way to improve the garden and to incorporate composting into a regular routine.

  2. This is great, Julie, it works exactly the same way my “heaps” do, remember those, Glory? The organic material in my case is garden waste, old hay, straw, whatever, including rotten wood. The decaying organic matter,wood, etc. becomes soil that is very rich. It works GREAT. I didn’t know there was an official name for it either. I intend to build more, lots of rotten logs around!

    • Julie Helms says:

      Ray, do you grow plants on your heaps? This system is neat because the idea is to get perrenials growing on them mainly, so they come back year after year with no effort.
      I believe hugelkultur means “hill culture”

  3. Lia Emet says:

    Glad I found you! (Now maybe 13 followers!) I am at : Garden of Lia or

  4. Lisa says:

    I heard this attracts hobbits…

  5. By the way, Julie, this raised bed system doesn’t eliminate the need for irrigation, or watering, but when the soil develops properly there is very little cultivation needed other than removal of weeds. The growth is so prolific that few weeds will grow, see my previous year’s photo of ONE squash plant that was 40′ across the vines, and had 17 HUGE squash that were 2′ in diameter!
    This is a very productive process. The last one had a variety of vines and other plants including cantaloupe and sunflowers for the birds. Gotta keep THEM happy too. “:)

    • Julie Helms says:

      Ray, that’s the difference between heap-culture and hugelkultur. Because there are logs in the pile, they absorb tons of water when it is available (get water-logged!) then the plants drink from that in dry times. It is similar to the idea of nurse trees in the forest…a tree falls over and things begin to grow out of it, getting their nutrients and water from the log.
      I enjoyed your post and pictures on your heaps. What a bounty!!

  6. Fran Kocher says:

    Julie, I mentioned Dave’s plan for raised beds to my Curves owner who lives nearby. She told me about this very thing….which she apparently is already into. Small world! I’ll see if I can get her email address…in case you’d like to communicate. Interesting way to garden….almost effortless, it appears!

  7. says:

    How big are the ones your going to make in the backyard? And how many years will one kultur last?

    p.s. Hi Mommy. :3

    • Julie Helms says:

      We are going to put ours into the raised beds (cinderblocks) so they aren’t true monunds, but will have the wood in them for lots of nutrition and water. We’ll start with two. As far as I know they last many years, sinking slightly so you can add to the top, but they will remain rich environments for growing things! Wanna help?

  8. Julie,you are absolutely right regarding the addition of logs, if you have nice big rotten logs under the heap it will hold moisture longer. The garden waste (vines, stalks etc) does the same thing but only to a degree. I was soaking the garden waste down (saturated) before piling the soil on top but did find that it tended to be dry anyway. We have, incidentally, had very little rainfall here.
    I am intending on rebuilding all of my heaps based on logs specifically for that reason, punky logs can hold a lot of water! Seeing my bounty there, with no logs (just garden waste, sunflower stalks, sod, grass, etc) can you imagine how good this could get with a log base? Amazing! Thanks for checking out my pics too ! “:)

  9. @ hayzel, Logs will take a variable number of years to rot depending upon not only moisture content, but the consistency of moisture the content, and the soil type it is buried under. A paper birch log will be completely rotten and broken down (only the bark left) within 3 or 4 years. Poplar will last 5 or 6 years–or 10 years for a big log. Interestingly, in an old logging area, I found a neat pile of spruce / Jackpine pulp logs that was (1 full cord) probably 40 -50 years old and it was completely rotten with a layer of old leaves on top of it, but you could still see the pattern of the log “ends” in the beautiful pile of very rich soil. Some poor logger never got paid for THAT day’s work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s