The plans that had been made for this year’s gardens have changed quite a bit. I trudged around last fall picking up old, heavy logs, broken branches and leaves and made enough hugelkultur beds to feed the whole town. I may have been a little too ambitious (as always) and made more beds than I could ever use this year. The fact that I was doing too much didn’t escape me, but I really wanted to put a dent in the cleaning of the mess that was left when the logger had come through. So I set out to clean up the mess and focused more on that than what I was going to do with all these beds.
In my haste to clean, the logs and sticks were thrown together, rather than nicely stacked to prevent spaces. There is more space in the beds than I could ever fill with leaves, which is what needed to happen. I tried to fill all the gaps, but then the leaves settled in and you would never know that I filled in any of the gaps. This would mean that I would have to fill every single gap in every hugel bed with dirt. That would be near impossible to do in a timely fashion. I will say that the mice loved all the homes I made for them. We saw tiny footprints in the snow leading in and out of the beds all winter.
I schemed and plotted as to how I could get enough beds prepared in time for planting, but every idea seemed quite painful to carry out. The man finally decided to put in his two cents and suggested that I just plant my seeds in the ground. In completely unprepared garden beds, right in the ground.
In reality, the soil that we have on our property is rich, untouched forest soil. It has years of composted leaves and sticks forming a thick layer of organic matter, perfect for gardening. The ground is not soft enough to plant carrots and turnips, but many plants should grow just fine in the soil that we have.
I set out to pick a sunny area and get it cleaned up. All the large branches were moved out of the way and used to form a border around the garden. Smaller branches were thrown together to make a fence, not sturdy enough to keep any the critters out, but to make sure it was obvious to the man and children where the garden was. The back side of the fence was made of fencing so that I could plant peas there and they had room to grow up. Kale and cabbage seeds were thrown around in loose rows, the children helped with this part so it should be interesting to see how scattered the plants come in. Partially decomposed leaves were lightly spread over the seeds to attempt some mulching. I will spread more once everything sprouts.
There are various other areas around the lot that will be used for garden planting. The tomatoes will be planted in the outdoor kitchen, corn and sunflowers will be around the house to provide shade and will also serve as trellises, potatoes will get cages, more sunflowers will be scattered where oil has leaked into the ground to help clean it up, and squash will get there own beds in various sunny areas. There is a slight possibility that there will be a nice bed in the outdoor kitchen for some root crops, but I am not holding my breath.
The finishing touch on the garden will be an onion border and some flowers. The onions smell should help to keep some of the pests away from my vegetables. The flowers serve the same purpose. Marigolds and nasturtiums specifically are deterrents for various bugs that would eat my vegetables. The onions are more for burrowing critters and rabbits. From what I have seen, we have an ample amount of white rabbits hopping around our land. Hopefully I am not just opening up a buffet.
Coming soon: Potatoes!
Good luck with your garden, looks like a great start. Hugel sometimes seems like this great idea until you realize how much soil you actually need to make it work, let those beds be a work in progress. We have 2 hugel beds that seem to be working well for us, one is mostly a tree nursery and the other is very happy growing elephant garlic, onions, gogi berry, comfrey, and strawberries. We are still experimenting since we have only been here less than 2 years but it is fun trying different things and seeing what works. We recently put in several more hugels (easy work when you have a tractor) where we were debating about swales, but I’m glad we went with the hugels, now i just need to decide what to plant in them, how are your squash hugels doing?
The squash hugels are doing well. I stacked those much more carefully. I also covered them in leave and hay over the summer to encourage rotting. I plan to use those this year. I may add some soil on top.
Sounds like you are having great luck with yours. I can’t wait till mine do that well. I agree that you don’t realize how much soil it takes. I am trying to get the tractor working on my beds, but there are apparently other plans for it right now. Oh well.