Sunday, February 22, 2015


What the heck is hugelkultur?!?  First let me tell you how I stumbled across it.  Remember when we "trimmed" our behemoth Laurels?  More like a Saws-All massacre of the Laurels.  They blocked all the light, and took up tons of yard, and made the whole backyard shady and weird.  And then we had a sprint to the finish to make it look nice-ish before our potluck open house.  But!  I didn't want to get rid of all those branches, because free wood!  People pay money for wood to make crafts, but not me!  So we made piles of the trunky pieces, and the branchy pieces and just left them.  We also made a pile of grass clippings all summer, and just left it all.  For months and months.  Now all of a sudden it's spring, and time to get back at it, and our inside projects are under control.  

The denuded Laurels.

Our backyard was filled with Laurel branches.

Like literally covered in Laurel branches.

It was overwhelming for a minute to clean this up for our party.

But we did it!  Small branches in the yard waste cart, big branches in a pile in the corner, trunky pieces in their own pile in front of the fence there, and voila!  This is how we left it last spring, and then took lots of trips, and hung art and other inside projects, and hardly gave it another thought, and lots of little birds have made these piles part of their yard crossing routine.

So I'm googling crafts to make with branches, and found a zillion clever things, and equally as many weird things, and then I found hugelkultur.  One, it's fun to say.  Two, it uses branches and grass clippings to make a raised bed.  I have those and I want that!  And if you have dirt to spare, you can make it right on top of your grass -- no digging!  But we don't have dirt to spare, so we did a little digging.

The chosen initial hugelkultur area.

I used a pitchfork to dig up the area, and threw the sod to the side.

Then we shoveled out some more loose dirt, just enough to fill the wheelbarrow and wagon.

Union break time!

The trunky pile is on the left, branchy pile on the right, and completely camouflaged grass clippings pile to the right in front of the branchy pile.  And you can see the little Laurels in front of the fence, they came back quickly and happily.

We laid branches in the pit, and used loppers to cut any that stuck out crazy.  We wanted it flattish.

Then we put our grass clippings on top of the branches, and kind of mushed it around so it would fill in a little.

More grass clippings.

Leaves!  These all shook off the branches when we dug into the pile, and we just raked them up.

The branchy pile is a third used, and the grass clippings decimated.  Under all the grass clippings now is just beautiful dirt.

We took the sod, and laid it upside down on top of all of it.

The proud hugelkulturist in his natural habitat.

We took our wheelbarrow and wagon of dirt, dumped it on top, and smoothed it out.  This picture is the most focused of the pics I took at this point, because my hands are shaking lol.  Who needs a gym when you have yardwork?!?

After.  The hugelkultur is in the middle of the frame, in front of the fence.  

Happy to be using up that branchy pile.  The trunky pile is destined to making a different craft.

So that was last weekend, and yesterday we made a second hugelkultur bed the same way.  Today we'll plant little seeds in our two beds, and see what happens!  Mark has already remarked that while the bed we made yesterday has frost this morning, the bed we made last weekend does not.  That's because all the decomposition is making heat, and hugelkultur beds can be used to extend your growing season.  You guys.