|Raised bed gardening using hugelkultur photo Open Hand Foundation|
Used for centuries in Eastern Europe and Germany, (in German it translates roughly as “mound or hill culture”) hügelkultur (pronounced ‘hoo-gul-culture’) is a gardening and farming technique where woody debris (branches and/or logs) are used as a resource (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCgelkultur).
Often employed in permaculture systems, hügelkultur allows gardeners and farmers to mimic the nutrient cycling found in natural woodlands to realize several benefits. Woody debris (and other matter) that falls to the forest floor can readily become sponge like, soaking up rainfall and releasing it slowly into the surrounding soil, thus making this moisture available to nearby plants.
Hügelkultur is a composting process that uses no-dig raised planting beds constructed on top of decaying wood debris and other compostable biomass plant materials. Hügelkultur farmers believe this process helps to improve soil fertility, water retention and soil warming, benefiting plants grown on or near the mounds. providing great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs.
The hügelkultur process is bleived to work well anywhere. On a sod lawn Sepp Holzer, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepp_Holzer) hugelkultur expert, recommends cutting out the sod, digging a one foot deep trench and filling the trench with logs and branches. Then cover the logs with the upside down turf. On top of the turf add grass clippings, seaweed, compost, aged manure, straw, green leaves, mulch, etc... In most situations, the bed may only have to be watered the first year.