Making a Mound

Always fun to try something new in the garden.

Especially with a friend who is strong and keen and knows more than you do! I don’t usually have company when I garden, but I can highly recommend it. Recently, I have become intrigued with Mounds – Hugelkultur – so decided to give it a bash.

The best thing about this method of creating a bed is that it uses up so many things that are lying around (often annoyingly) in the garden – lawn clippings, old logs, dried leaves, pruned branches, over abundance of comfrey and stops one being tempted to take all this biomass to the dump.

Hugelkultur are raised beds that hold moisture, build fertility and maximise surface area. The word is German and means means hill or mound. It is built with layers of logs, branches, leaves, grass clippings, straw, cardboard, newspaper, manure, compost or whatever other biomass you have available.

r xola feet

The gradual decay of wood is a source of long-term nutrients for the plants and acts as a sponge storing water to be released when it is drier.  The composting wood generates heat which helps plants during the colder months and soil aeration increases as those branches and logs break down.  The most important aspect of all is that the mounds sequester carbon into the soil. I think building soil is the most important thing we can do on the planet – certainly better than planting random and inappropriate trees.

 

We made our heap on existing veggie garden, so there was no need to lift the turf.  First we dug a trench about 30cm deep.

r IMG_5161 trench

Then we filled it with a selection of logs from different invasive trees (soft and hard wood) we had removed a while ago. Because they had been piled up for ages, they were colonised with mycelium, so the decomposition was already starting – perfect!

r IMG_5140 pile of logs

Apparently, if you have removed turf to create the trench, you should add it back on top of the logs, upside down.  We had no turf.

r IMG_5166 logs

We continued our layers – next adding lots of branches and twigs.  Then cutting comfrey leaves and adding them.

r xola cutting comfrey

It was quite exciting finding that we had all these lovely ingredients lurking nearby.  Next we put in a layer of old grass clippings.

rIMG_5187 comfrey and grass

We tipped out one entire worm bin onto the heap. So many worms! So many sprouting pumpkins! Lots and lots of egg shells! All too good!

r IMG_5206 contents of worm bin

Then dried leaves that we raked up nearby. It was certainly getting taller!

r IMG_5209 mound covered with leaves

Next came compost. Wandering Jew piled in the hot driveway, had decomposed into absolutely lovely compost – who would have guessed?

r IMG_5230 adding compost

We topped it with the soil from the trench,

r IMG_5234

planted seedlings (heavy feeders like cabbage), then covered with a layer of mulch.  During the first year of break down the wood (and fungi) uses a lot nitrogen, so we planted plenty of nitrogen fixing peas and beans.

r IMG_5251 planting

Actually, we emptied all those half packets of seeds that sit about losing their vitality. Whatever comes up will be a lovely surprise.

r IMG_5248 seed packets

Over the next couple of weeks, I watered the mound every day. Hadedas love walking on it, eating seeds and pulling up worms.

r IMG_5254 watering

After three weeks, we were harvesting leaves. Yum!

r mound after 1 month

So naturally, I am planning another mound.  While I haven’t observed all the alleged benefits yet, it was so much fun and looks so pretty, that it is definitely worth repeating.

Thank you Xola for the inspiration, energy and let’s do it attitude.

 

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6 thoughts on “Making a Mound

    1. One thing I realised after making mine is that the TURF is an important component. I used an existing bed, so I didn’t have to remove any, but ideally you want to dig your trench in the lawn and save the squares of turf to put on UPSIDE DOWN on top of the logs. This prevents everything else from just falling through the gaps. I used lots of comfrey instead, but it is not the same at all.

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      1. We have a heap of compost that we are planning to relocate. I am thinking of using the spot when we relocate the leaves and bokashi compost next month. I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

        Liked by 1 person

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