On Tuesday we received a nice treat of a giant free pile of wood mulch.  Admittedly this might not be the first thing that comes to mind when people think of “treats” but for us, the free mulch is a wonderful thing as we have intentions of laying it throughout our garden in a hugëlkultur like manner.

Wood mulch pile

A massive pile of wood mulch. Specifically, this is maple wood mulch.

I have mentioned hugëlkultur before (specifically in this post) but as a brief review, hugëlkultur is a permaculture practice of using decaying wood as a means of retaining water, providing additional heat, and enriching soil in gardens.  Traditionally, the practice lays logs on the ground and then covers them in dirt creating a raised bed with the wood inside it (see this site for in depth details about the practice).  Plants are grown in the beds and benefit from the decaying processes retention of water (decaying wood acts like a sponge) and heat (decomposition can produce a lot of heat, which can be helpful especially in the autumn and winter months).  Eventually, after several years, the wood will be entirely broken down, having enriched the soil, which can then be used to make a new hugëlkultur bed.

logs and sticks

These logs and sticks are just random yard debris. Some are already pretty well along in their decaying process.

In our case our garden beds have already been lain and planted in this year, and so it wouldn’t be worth it for us to dig them up and put wood in them (we may do this with future beds however).  As such we’ve decided to do what I am tentatively calling “Pseudo-Hugëlkultur” (though maybe “Quasi-Hugëlkultur” sounds better).  Essentially we are using the footpaths between our garden beds as holding areas for decaying wood.

logs and sticks in the path

I tried to lay the sticks and logs pretty evenly throughout the path.

laying mulch

On Tuesday afternoon a laid the first such path.  To do so, I gathered a bunch of logs and large sticks we’d collected in our yard and compost and laid these down the path in a roughly even level.  Then, on top of this wood, I placed a lot of the wood mulch we had just gotten.  When this was done the path was now a level surface to the two beds on either side of it (one bed is currently growing tomatoes, the other one is growing peppers).  We feel that the this new path will work much like traditional hugëlkultur by promoting water retention and adding heat as the wood decays.  Additionally, the fact that the path is sunken (albeit now filled with wood) creates a kind of gully for catching run-off water from rain.  Our intention is to do this throughout the garden and thus make it so that we do not have to water nearly as frequently (Eliza had done similarly in her garden several years back, and says that at the time she hardly ever had to water at all.  This will be awesome for our water bills).

laying mulch

So far I have only done one path. This log/mulch laying takes quite bit longer than just putting down leaf litter mulch. My goal is to get the paths around the tomatoes and peppers done first (becuase they use a lot of water) and then move on from there.

An additional thing that I am intending to do, is to purchase some King Stropharia spawn from Mushroom Mountain and inoculate the mulch throughout the garden.  Not only is King Stropharia supposed to be a good edible mushroom, but the fungi will aid in the decomposition process as well as the movement of water throughout the beds.

I am very excited about this garden project.  Ever since I learned about hugëlkultur a few months back, I have been fascinated by it (I also jut like saying the word . . .hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur!) and wanting to do it in our garden.  Now it is underway and I cannot wait to see how it works out for us.  Till then . . . toodles!

Hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur hugëlkultur!

~ by Nathaniel on June 21, 2012.

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