I made another hugel bed yesterday, down-hill from the first, both across the slope. This one is a bit deeper at 20″ and it has some 4″ diameter limbs so I put in an extra 5-gallon bucket of manure. I also mixed soil into the cotton burr layer so, perhaps, I won’t have a nitrogen starved layer up high, right under my plants.
Then I made some swales or terraces or depressions on the uphill side of the beds. This should collect any rainwater and feed it directly into the bed instead of it running off down-hill. I’ll get the moisture and keep my fertility in place!
Last weekend I decided to build a hugelkultur planting bed. The idea is that tree limbs, buried in the ground, will act like a sponge and soak up water thus limiting the amount of supplemental irrigation that a normal raised bed might require.
An added benefit is the tree limbs will rot and release nutrients that will feed your plants. I started with a trench measuring 16″ wide, 16″ deep and 12′ long. I added tree limbs up to 3″ in diameter, stomped them down, and added more. Next came about 100 pounds of aged, pulverized, cow manure, two large tubs (24″x24″) of 2 year old corn leaves, 2 tubs of 8-9 year old cotton burrs, and some tree bark.
I wet down each layer as I built. The final layer is the soil that came from the trench. I wet that and mulched over the top!
This bed is perpendicular to the slope which runs from the high side on the left to the lower area of the garden, about 70′ away, to the right. I’ll use the bed as a swale to collect rain at its base to feed the trench!
If the weather cooperates this weekend, I’ll build another!