Now that I have figured out that I do not have good soil, I have to start getting ready for next year. I have picked out a few places where I would really like to put garden beds. If I can get the raised beds layed out, I can start filling them up with all the good things I need to make great garden soil.
Growing a garden in a raised bed or a hugelkultur bed has many advantages. I plan to make all my garden beds out of various combinations of the two. Just in case you don’t know what they are, I will explain very briefly. A raised bed is just what it sounds like. Regular garden beds are at ground level and raised beds are in frames of some sort above ground level. Hugelkultur beds are, very basically, strategically layed out compost piles that you use as garden beds. It is more complicated than that so I included some links below if you would like more information. Also, as I build up the beds, I will share every step of the way to give a better idea what is going on.
The benefits of both kinds of beds are fairly similar. They both provide weed control. I am filling the raised beds with the same materials that I am building the hugel beds, all composted materials and the covering the soil with leaves which function as mulch to keep weeds down. The soil will be rich and healthy. Since the soil is all organic matter, the bad soil below the beds will not be in the beds at all, only what I think is good for the beds. The larger rotting logs I put in the beds will continue to provide health to the soil for years. Of course, as it rots down, the beds will need to be topped off, but they should last years before I need to add anything, another benefit of my beds. Water supply to the plants is optimized. Organic matter works as a sponge to keep the roots of all the plants moist, but the beds being up off of the ground allows for excellent drainage. The clay soil I have now does not allow for drainage hardly at all.
I have quite a few beds that I will be setting up in a few different ways. I have already started most of the beds, but they all still need some work. I have raised beds started for a butterfly garden, for my kitchen garden, for the garden that wraps around the house, and I need to start one in my fenced in area. I also have a large hugel bed started that will be for fruit trees and herbs.
These beds were all put together in a rushed and half hearted way. I need to go back around to all of the beds and get the rock or log borders built up nicely in a way that I can fill in the areas to the brim with all the things I need for healthy garden soil and healthy plants. I use the rocks for the borders where the gardens will be fairly permanent. The fenced area won’t likely be a permanent bed, so I can build up the walls with logs I find. The hugel bed will be lined with rocks, but no walls will be built up. These beds don’t use walls because the sides of the mounds are more surface area for planting.