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Hügelkultur (Mound Planting) – Our second year garden


It is early January, the year 2023, and we have started our planting for the year. Before landing here at Longshadows, I (Eli) have always known there were things to be done after winter peaks and the days begin to lengthen. But it was an intuitive knowing, without details. Now I have learned some of the details and my DNA is happy.

There are foods like onion, kale, broccoli, garlic, spinach, mixed greens and others that really like cooler weather. We are planting these throughout the next 2 weeks. We will still get snow and maybe some ice, but that’s ok. Plants that like it warmer will go in late spring, and there are a few that like it either way so we will plant those throughout the spring.

For the first-year garden, we used a combination of straw bales, in-ground and container planting. There were pros and cons for us and this year we are using that experience to change things up a bit.

Lettuce did super well in the hay bales as did chard and arugula. It was very convenient to have waist-high plants, easy on the back. And weeding was a snap. But feeding requirements were high. We used blood meal, organic kitchen compost, manure, etc, and although they did well, I am not sure they thrived, especially the tomatoes. Things that did not do well in the bales were carrots, potatoes, eggplant, broccoli, beans and melons. Peppers, potatoes, cucumbers, and melons thrived in the soil while herbs and radishes did great in both containers and the soil.

We are always trying to improve the quality of the land. And while what we are doing is currently leaving it better, we wondered what else we could do to rebuild the ecology of our space. We eventually learned about Hügelkultur (mound planting) from several friends and were hooked. This is exactly what we were looking for and are glad we found our way to the table.

So this year’s garden will also use these mounds. We have put in two already and will do as many as we can, as we gather the natural resources. They are supposed to cook for a couple of months before you use them but we are going to plant nitrogen fixers (peas, beans, etc) first so it should be fine. We will build the rest this fall and let them sit the first part of winter for planting early next year. Why Hügelkultur? Nutrient cycling, drought resistant, recycles decaying materials, and so many other reasons.

Basically, remove a layer of sod, set this to the side because you turn it upside down and cover the mount at the end. Then you layer wood (decaying is best, and some you should avoid like cedar), wood chips (again, no cedar), leaves, hay, compost, and kitchen scraps lasagna style. Then cover with upside-down sod, finish with a layer of good growing medium and ring with wood or rocks. Lots of water is needed as you are building it and if it is going to rain right after it is done, cover to prevent washout. Gentle rain is good and you don’t need to cover it.

We will leave these a few days before planting, but in one is going peas and beans, the other spinach and greens. The rest of the crops we will do in the ground, bales, and containers. We are also building some shade tunnels for the plants that dislike the high heat of the day like the lettuces.

There is a reel below of us building the mounds. And, I have provided a list of articles to read, in order from a very basic overview to more detailed descriptions.

Curated Reading List for Hügelkultur

Other posts we wrote related to this topic that you might like.

  • Our First Year Garden
  • Straw Bale Gardening – Pros and Cons (for us)


Check out our other blogs

Ranch News by all of us,
our homesteading journey and transitioning from a city to country state of mind.

Nature Cure on the Homestead by Eli
natural medicine at home and the homestead.

Stall Talk by Sophia
covers everything about horses.

The Birds & The Bees by Brian M
adventures with chickens, bees and more.

Pick, Shovel, Hammer and Saw by Brian Kuhn
our building, remodeling, constructing and problem-solving endeavors.
Note: these are often problems of our (his) own making :-)

2 Responses

    1. Hi Sabrina!

      You are welcome any time…we are usually here from about 8 am until 5 pm M-Sat but can make special arrangements for evenings and Sun.

      Welcome to the area!!!!

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