Oh, my! Why didn’t I know about this method of gardening about 40 years ago???
When our log cabin was built in New Hampshire, the builder cleared an entire meadow stacking the branches, logs, soil, grass, etc. in a huge pile at the back of a meadow. I pretty much ignored it! Sure, it grew wild flowers and plants. Blackberries loved it, and so did the snakes, bees and other critters, but, since it was in a shady and out of the way place, I essentially ignored it.
Hugelkultur (or hugel) is a pile of logs, branches, wood chips, (etc.) covered with soil and planted!!! It generates it’s own nutrients; stays moist; and because it is breaking down, it stays warmer generating a longer growing period.
Here is a link showing all the details of hugelkultur. I have included here a photograph taken from that page to show you how pretty they can actually be. This one is small compared to what I might have had in New Hampshire!
It is such an obvious, good plan. Where have I been???
I must admit, I did have a pile of chips (awaiting use as mulch) that I called my “nursery”. I used that pile for inserting little trees, plants and shrubs I didn’t have time, or a location decided on yet. It was wonderful. The little plants grew so happily with little or no extra fuss. They were warm and happy. The pile was in the shade too. I think that actually worked to the advantage of the newly planted orphans because they didn’t have to worry about sun scald, or the drying complications of too much sunshine. That pile however, did not have any soil, which kept the plants from growing too rapidly. It was kind of a “holding” technique. I also have to say, that NH gets more inches of rain than our Pacific Northwest climate affords. I think the plants might dry out here, using that technique. From that standpoint, I’m sure the shade also helped.
I wish now that I’d included something about that huge pile, or the nursery, in my book…but I didn’t. There’s lots more to read there however. Aside from the calendar, there are tons of vignettes about my gardening adventures in New Hampshire. 🙂