Hugelkultur…say it with me now!
Dry and hot – that’s the weather prediction for this summer in the Comox Valley (and seemingly everywhere). With stage 1 water restrictions already in place in most areas of the Comox Valley it has prompted me to look at alternative and supplemental methods of ‘garden hydration’ as I prepare to replace a batch of ornamentals in my backyard with garden beds.
Rain barrels and rainwater catchment are obvious methods but during some late night research (admittedly side tracked by some seriously cool Pinterest images of intricate hair braids …) I found an article on hugelkultur.
Hugelkultur, meaning ‘hill culture or hill mound’ is a sheet-composting method that involves burying woody debris (logs, branches, sticks) and other organic matter under a mound of earth. This gardening method mimics nutrient cycling that occurs in nature. When trees and branches fall to the floor of a forest, they act like a sponge as they decay. That sponge-like property allows the wood to soak up rainfall and then release it slowly into the soil use by surrounding plants. Hugelkultur beds are designed to take advantage of this natural water-retention cycle – so much so that some gardeners who use this method claim they never water at all. With water issues being what they are, this seems like a pretty solid concept.
As it turns out, this method has been in practice for centuries, it just took some late night Google work to find it. I’m still in the process of researching hugelkultur for my garden, if anyone has any heroic hugelkultur stories out there, we’d love to hear them.
The link below has some excellent information about hugelkultur, the benefits, the challenges and the intricate details.