The Hawk-Mo Hotwire

Micro Entrepreneurism, Simple Living & Art

New Garden Construction & Hugelkulturitis

This is mostly a picture post. Which should make up for the last post that was, admittedly, a little extra heavy on the words. These things happen when I’m my own editor.

Our plan for the garden this year is to have 14 raised beds that are roughly 30″ x 10 ft + a 50 ft asparagus patch + a hoop house. So far we have 5 beds built, 4 basically filled and a hoop house almost ready for plastic. I won’t bore you just yet with all the great things I think I’m going to grow in that space, I’ll save that tasty tid bit of mouth watering post for another day. Suffice to say, if you manage to make it out for a visit this summer, you will be well fed.

Right now our garden area looks like this:
February Garden
I have an experimental planting of beets, turnips, carrots, tatsoi, and radishes under one of those windows. I just discovered today that the turnips have germinated!

Now each one of these beds is filled with rotting, decomposing organic material goodness. Almost none of it is actual soil. This next series of pictures I’m going to step out on a limb and call hugelkultur porn. It probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to you, or really even be interesting, but after seeing so many other people’s posts about their hugelkultur beds, I’ve been waiting for this day.

Each bed starts with a layer that looks like this:

Sweet delicious rotting wood. The foundation of every hugelkultur bed.

Sweet delicious rotting wood. The foundation of every hugelkultur bed.

When you come down with hugelkulturitis, as I have, all you see, everywhere you go, is materials. And I want them all. Just last week on our errand trip, I said nothing the whole way to town accept to mention a large pile of wood chips sitting in someone’s yard. I was jealous. A large pile of wood chips is a key gardening material that I do not have.

Next layer of the beds looks like this:

Smaller twigs and branches.

Smaller twigs and branches.


Very very rotten hay from old rolls left down in one of our meadows.

Very very rotten hay from old rolls left down in one of our meadows.

I am giddy about all the old rotting hay bales around here. Positively giddy. You should see the gusto with which I dig around in this goodness and pitchfork it into the tractor bucket. You should see the smile on my face every time I get another load of it delivered to the garden. Hank knows this is the way to my heart. I’m pretty sure he’s going to surprise me with another bucket full of some delicious composty stuff for Valentine’s day, maybe even another garden bed frame, and I can’t fucking wait.

So after the rotten hay goes a layer of cardboard as a safety against whatever grass seeds might have survived in the hay:
And then that gets covered with slightly aged chicken manure, which is heavy on the nitrogen, which is excellent for getting the wormies to work there way  up through the cardboard and into the upper layers of the bed.

Glorious glorious poop.

Glorious glorious poop.

On top of these goes what other various materials I can scavenge from the surrounding area. In this case I gathered up what the chickens had been scratching through in the woods, which is basically a combination of pine needles and leaves. After I get about 8 inches or so of that on there, I call it done for now. It needs to rest and settle and age, the longer the better. However some of these babies will have things planted in them starting in the middle of March, if not sooner.


About mudly

Mud is main blog writer extraordinaire, picture guru, and the garden and adventure instigator. She loves to cook, but doesn’t much like following a recipe. She also loves typewriters, the color turquoise, and wearing tie dye with stripes. And she dorks out on while dreaming up and planning her next garden.

4 comments on “New Garden Construction & Hugelkulturitis

  1. grampy
    February 13, 2013

    Really interesting — makes me want to help. Is it warm enough yet??

    I remember that a huge problem in re-planting potted ornamentals was eliminating air pockets. Seems like you could have some – but using seeds (which I suppose you do) in naturally lightly compacted “soil” deals with that. Not being involved in nursery propagation activities, I hadn’t thought about that..

    • mudly
      February 13, 2013

      Definitely not warm enough yet, sometimes its in the 50s in our house when we wake up in the morning, but I’m glad you’re getting excited to help!

      I’m not convinced that air pockets are a good thing initially either, and these beds probably won’t make for super awesome gardens this year, but the idea is that they get better and better every year as they decompose more and more. Its a very long term investment. The wood at the bottom is perfect culture for all those beneficial fungi AND they help a lot with keeping the soil moist when you have a dry summer. Last year I experimented a little with the layering part and found it to make very happy plants, remember the basil?!? Since they were very unaged when it was time to plant things, I just put each seedling or seed in a little bit of potting soil to give it a good growing medium to get started in – which is what I will be doing this year as well.

  2. sallyb2
    February 13, 2013

    An interesting explanation of what will be beneath under all those wonderful veggies that you’re going to grow. How will keep all those things you’ve planted from getting frozen to death if you have a serious cold spell between now and spring?

    • mudly
      February 13, 2013

      It makes me smile SO much that you and gramps are reading this and interested in what we’re doing.

      Not sure how the plants will do if it gets super cold, but everything I have planted is supposedly frost hardy to some extent. Turnips, radishes, and beets can all be overwintered here so I figure they have a good shot in the cold frame.

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This entry was posted on February 13, 2013 by in Garden and tagged .

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