Recycle: Trees

Have you recently had a tree trimmed or taken down at your home? Instead of having them picked up by your landscaper or the monthly bulk/brush, consider repurposing them by creating a Hugel raised bed.

“Hugelkultur” composts whole trees while cultivating a garden. As the rotting tree limbs decompose, they release moisture and nutrients and create a valuable organic soil base in which to grow…well, anything! It is a centuries old technique for composting utilized around the world.

(If you are stuck on this fancy name, just think of saying, “Google Culture”…Then, insert an “H” for that “G”.  That’s it!)

How to build it?

1.     Pick a sunny space, and plan for a North-South orientation of your bed.

2.     Start with the larger wood pieces on the bottom (fyi, if you want to speed up decomposition, bury the wood one foot deep at the outset).

3.     Add to that base layers of the other tree parts, largest to smallest (e.g. start with limbs, next branches, next twigs…)

4.     Add some green stuff (nitrogen) to it (grass clippings, hay, manure, etc.)

5.     Add some brown stuff (carbon) to it (leaves, mulch, compost, soil).

6.     Water all of that down, and (ideally) let it rest for a bit before planting in it.

We created several Hugel beds over the winter in our urban space, and we’re going to grow vegetables in them.  Check out pictures here.

Stacking branches for the base layers of the bed. next, would come grass clippings, manure, hay, mulch (smaller organic items)…This bed was intentionally placed on a slope for erosion control and also to capture rainwater that will naturally nourish the garden bed.

Stacking branches for the base layers of the bed. next, would come grass clippings, manure, hay, mulch (smaller organic items)…This bed was intentionally placed on a slope for erosion control and also to capture rainwater that will naturally nourish the garden bed.

Planting onions and potatoes in a finished Hugel bed…

Planting onions and potatoes in a finished Hugel bed…