Hugelkulturizing the bean patch at Garland Community Garden


Yes, hugelkulturizing is a verb I possibly made up.  It may not have ever been used before but the grammatical potential, at least in English, has always been there.  Hugelkultur  (noun) is a German word that literally translates “mound culture.”  It refers to a type of bed preparation that makes the bed especially water efficient.  It emulates the natural transition in a forest: leaves fall, trees fall. Over time the logs and leaves rot and release nutrients to feed the growth of new trees.  The logs become like sponges and hold water that roots may seek when the weather gets dry.

To build a hugelkultur, a pit is dug and rotten logs are placed in it.   Some also simply place the logs on top of the soil and then pile the organic matter on top of that.  The benefit of digging a trench is that the mound will not be so high. 

Yesterday,  I joined Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green and Burgi Bartlett, board member, to hugelkulturize existing beds down at the garden.Jane and Burgi put about eight rotten logs in the bottom of our keyhole garden and then assisted me in finishing up the bed that will be our bean patch this year.

Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green , and Burgi Bartlett, Board Member, hugelkulturize the keyhole garden.

To hugelkulturize an existing garden:

1. Soak already decaying logs in water.

2. Dig a trench at least six inches deep.

3. Put the logs in the trench.

4.  Cover with organic matter such as leaves.  You can also add decaying veggies from your refrigerator.

5.  Cover with soil.  You will have created a little mound  six inches to a foot high.

You don’t need to plant on the mound if you don’t want to. The roots from nearby plants will seek out the nutrients that seep down.


Green Etiquette for Kids and Educable Adults

I’ve been busy the last week designing a compost course that I’ll be presenting to third graders at Watson next Wednesday.  Composting is about much more than a technique for crazy gardeners like me.  Composting is in part about raising consciousness regarding the food that we waste and then taking action to correct our part in the larger picture of things.

In 2012 an alarming report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed that as much as 40% of the food that we are growing, raising, and cooking gets thrown away. 

Starting from the bottom (worst) up, we have choices about what we can do about food waste:

Dealing with Food Waste

1.  We can throw it in the trash and it will get shipped to our landfill.

2.  We can put it down the garbage disposal and it will go to our water works.  What happens to it there depends upon the system our municipality has set up for dealing with this kind of waste.  Sometimes it is recycled for good use.

3.  We can compost much of our food waste.

4.  We can become wiser shoppers and only buy what can be used and/or frozen for  use at a later date.




Photo credit: Baker Seed’s Whole Seed Catalog

January is the month that gardeners pour over their seed catalogs and dream of spring.  At our meeting on Monday, January 16, we will be selecting 100 packets of heirloom seeds to order.  These seeds will be used in the garden and we will be selling or perhaps giving them away at our annual plant sale in April.  Members will also be able to take as much as they can use in the gardens in their yards.  Charlie and I have already ordered ours separately.  The black tomato featured above is one that he has chosen for his garden.



Garden Rock by Liz

We will also be painting garden rocks.  Each person will be able to take one rock home and the other rock will be donated to our sale.  In preparation for this RSVP event where members will be painting rocks at my house, I’ve been practicing myself and experimenting with various techniques as I’ve never painted a rock.  Armed with this limited knowledge, I won’t be painting rocks at the event.  Instead I’ll be helping people who want tips on how to do it—no unsolicited advice from me, I promise.



Speaking of learning by doing:  yesterday I mulched three large bags of leaves to be used as part of the demonstration for my compost class.  Intellectually I know that often when something is chopped up, it reduces the volume (the amount of space it takes up).  However, I was really impressed at the extent to which the leaves were reduced.  Three large, completely full bags of leaves after mulching filled up a little less than half of one bag.  Even if you think you have too many leaves to deal with, you may not if you mulch them.  Think this way:  Six bags = one bag the same size.  Then ask your servant to mulch  your leaves and spread on your lawn and garden beds.

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