Here’s the second update from our Compost Collective facilitator Jennifer, who is sharing how she’s creating a hugelkultur bed at her property.
Step 2 – Collecting logs
I collected all the big old logs from around our property to check we have enough to fill the hugelkultur bed. The pile is pretty big now!
The logs will go into the hole (I’ll dig that in the next step) so I need a layer of logs to fill the hole and more to stack on top above ground level. I want a high hugelkultur raised bed so I collected enough logs to stack in a pyramid. We also have smaller logs that I can use to fill in gaps as needed.
Ideally use wood that was cut at least a year ago. My logs are a few years old and some are quite rotten. Hugelkultur is an ideal way to use rotten wood in a planet-friendly way.
One of my logs is so old and rotten that weeds are growing out of it. This is a preview of how the wood in the hugelkultur will feed the plants growing in it and those plants will feed us!
I feel sad whenever I see people burning piles of wood. I think of all that carbon turning into carbon dioxide and going into our air. Much better to bury it and keep the carbon in the soil where it belongs!
If you don’t have enough logs ask your friends and neighbours if they have any old logs lying around. They’ll probably be more than happy for you to take them away! If you still don’t have enough logs try asking on ShareWaste NZ if anyone has logs or other compostable material they could give you to add to your hugelkultur bed.
Types of Wood
Some woods are better than others for hugelkultur.
According to this article from permaculture.co.uk the best woods include alder, apple, birch, maple, oak and poplar.
Avoid black walnut as it stunts plant growth and avoid woods that don’t decompose like black locust and redwoods.
Other woods are ok but may be best well rotted or at the bottom of the bed if they are antimicrobial or antifungal as we want the bed to be alive with microbes and fungi.
Health and Safety
I used a trolley and wove gloves to move my logs. I’m only 162 cm tall but reasonably strong. I managed to move all these logs on my own.
For your own health and safety, I recommend you wear gloves (to avoid splinters and cuts) and use a wheelbarrow or trolley loaded no higher than you can manage to push safely.
If you don’t have a wheelbarrow or trolley you can carry logs one at a time.
Look after your back: if any of your logs are too heavy for you to lift, ask for help from someone stronger!
In the next instalment, I’ll be sharing how to prepare the ground, digging out the top soil to put in and on to the bed later. If you missed my first blog, you can read about choosing the site here.