Jennifer’s up to step 8, adding soil and seedlings, in the process of creating a hugelkultur bed at her property.

Step 8 – Adding soil and seedlings

Putting the soil on top of the hugelkultur bed was hard work. Possibly harder than digging the soil out in the first place. I needed to lift the soil almost as high as me to put it on the bed and had to move some of it around to the other side of the bed. If you have any ideas about how to make this part of the project easier please share! It was good exercise!

Once the soil was on top I was ready to transplant the broad bean seedlings. I chose broad beans as I already had our own seed saved. Broad beans are one of the few plants that can be planted at this time of year (mid to late autumn).  A bonus is that broad beans fix nitrogen in the soil so will add to the fertility of the hugelkultur bed. It took a little longer than I expected to get to this stage of the hugelkultur bed so my seedlings had grown rather large!  Smaller would have been better.

 Broad beans need some space so I transplanted the seedlings 30 centimetres apart. I used a homemade wooden triangle with 30cm sides as a guide. Starting with a row on top, I followed this with rows along the sides and ends of the bed. As the positions of the seedlings in the rows are not directly above or below each other the distance between the rows is less than 30cm. It is in fact only 26cm (see below). This means if you use a triangle you might be able to fit in more rows than you could with 30cm row spacing.

For those who’d like to understand the maths

The distance between the rows is in fact the height of the triangle rather than the 30cm length of the sides of the triangle. If you want to prove this to yourself brush up on Pythagoras’ theorem for right angled triangles from your high school maths. Cut the 30cm equilateral triangle in half. This is now a right angled triangle. Remember A squared + B squared equals C squared where A and B are the lengths of the shorter sides. For the right-angled triangle C = 30cm, B = 15 cm (half) so 30cm x 30cm + 15cm x 15cm = A squared.  Solving this: A = 25.98cm. So the distance between each row is 26cm.

What’s next?

I’ll be mulching the bed in the next blog. If you missed the earlier blogs, here’s where to find them:

1 Getting started

2 Collecting logs

3 Preparing the ground

4 Layering logs

5 Adding turf

6 Adding compostable materials

7 Adding compost

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