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A Different Type of Raised Bed

So many times I have fallen down the Pinterest rabbit hole. This winter was no exception. I guess I had been searching on enough eco-friendly gardening ideas that a post about Huglekulters came into my feed.

A hugelkulter is effectively a raised bed or berm that uses the natural decaying process of wood and sticks to help feed the plants and improve drainage. Because our clay soil is so unforgiving, all of our vegetable beds are raised up off the ground. It also makes it easier to harvest for those of us with aching backs.

The traditional hugelkulter is built in layers. You start with a base layer of logs, then small branches, then leaf mulch, or straw, then compost and finally, good soil. The idea is that over time the layers will decompose and provide excellent food for what is growing on top.

Always up for some new creative idea, I suggested to my husband that we turn a section of unused lawn and build some hugelkulters. Of course, we didn't do it quite right.

We didn't have any right-sized logs so we just started with sticks and brush. This obviously affected the height and will probably lead to settling and adjusting but that's how we seem to roll.

Over the winter I collected cardboard from things we had delivered so that we could kill the grass on the bottom. We have nuclear grass/weeds. It will survive the apocalypse so I knew if I didn't do something it would come up through a couple of feet of decaying debris.

I wanted to try growing pumpkins and as they tend to sprawl as they grow so I figured the berms would be the best place for them. In a moment of weakness over the winter, I also ordered some gourd and decorative corn seeds. As I ran out of space in the other raised beds, the cabbage seeds went here too.

The soil started to dry out pretty quickly so I added a bit of mulch to the top. As our first run of spinach finished up I decided to carve a little area on the side for another batch. They do say you can use all sides of the berm to grow whatever suits the space.

Ironically, the twenty or so pumpkin seeds I planted only produced two plants but that's par for the course. I think the critters got them.

Since I keep tripping over the sloped edges I think I will take some old concrete blocks and arrange them at the bottom. This will help reduce erosion and give me something to weed wack against.

I suspect that now we have built something here the area will develop around it. We have a couple of apple trees and I would like to grow some other kind of fruit. Something that can handle wet clay.

In typical fashion, the natural approach to gardening isn't so picture-perfect at first but I still like it.

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