I think it’s fair to say that I have been very excited about what I’ve learned about Hugel Mounds and Permaculture over the last few weeks. It’s also fair to say that since I moved here in 2006 there have been several areas of the backyard that I’ve not really known how to improve or beautify.

Wearing my favorite Flannel shirt on a cold day out in the garden

Remember that Hugel Mounds are simply raised beds made using materials lying around the garden. It’s sustainable gardening – it’s Permaculture. Good for your garden, good for Nature!

2 Problems/1 Solution: Hugel Mounds

Problem Area #1:- Down towards the back of the property is quite a large area with virtually no soil – it’s straight down into rock. Even native grasses struggle in this area. It’s here I have put my first Hugel Mound which I will plant with saplings, shrubs and herbs. With time the roots of these plants will find cracks in the limestone as they reach down. As more plants are able to grow, the soil will be improved allowing native grasses to do better….. Everything gets better and better with time. I’m patient, I can wait!

Problem Area #2:- Just below my deck is are area with some Live Oaks, a Red Oak, Agarita, Persimmon and a few Yuccas. Behind this area is our propane tank, well house and water tank – none of which is attractive. In December we actually took down one of the Live Oaks which cleared some space so that Stuart can build a garden shed for me. I really wanted to plant shrubs along the east facing side of this area but was still looking at quite a rocky area. Hugel Mounds to the rescue! Will be able to easily plant along this line and partially hide the utilities from the rest of the garden. Problem solved!

Recycle Woody “Waste”

I don’t know about you, but I seem to generate huge amounts of woody cuttings each year; from Salvias, Lantanas, Herbs, Tree trimmings etc etc. The smaller stuff I’d compost – takes a while but it will break down eventually. The larger stuff not suitable for firewood, we would burn. Wood ash I’d put in the compost or use for dust baths for the chickens – but there was a lot of good material literally going up in flames. Have to admit that we do both love a good bonfire…

By putting this woody “waste” in the bottom of my Hugel Mounds I can recycle everything as I’m solving my ‘problem areas’. I’m almost dancing with excitement – it’s like finding the solution to a problem that I wasn’t truly aware that I had.

I know that I’m lucky to have the land to be able to experiment with large scale projects like this but believe that this sort of sustainable gardening can be done in small yards too. Take the theory and adapt it to your space.

Photos from My Garden

You can see from the photos that I use woody waste at the bottom of my Hugels. Over the top I’m using semi decomposed straw/chicken poop from the chicken run – a lot of hard work! Weeds that I’m pulling by hand are being thrown onto the pile too!

Once I finish cleaning out the chicken run I’ll use unfinished compost from my pens if needed to cover all the wood. And then onto of this I’ll put a good layer of finished compost. And then, Voila! I’ll be ready to plant my Hugel Mounds.

It’s a lot of hard work and moving compost around at the moment – got a Wedding here in September so everything needs to look good. In the future I think I’ll be able to make Hugels where I generate the wood/weeds and do it a little slower.

Caroline xo


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