In the spring I built a hugelkultur bed because I had plenty of time on my hands, the tip was closed and I had a lot of wood and prunings. I thought now would be a good time to review how it has worked and whether it was worth all of that digging. The short answer is ‘Yes!’ but below is the longer answer.
I built it in March and then didn’t take many photos of it during the summer so I am afraid I can’t show what happened. The long side of the bed faces west as I read that it should be placed facing the prevailing wind to shelter what lies behind it. I planted strawberry offshoots from the allotment on the west side – Guarigette – half way down the slope and then lettuce seedlings below them on both the west and east facing sides. The west facing lettuce bolted before those on the east-facing side and so for a longer harvest of lettuce the east side is the place. On the east side I also planted spare coriander seedlings but they just bolted and seeded. However, the seedlings are doing well now and showing no signs of bolting and so for the first time ever, I have a fairly decent crop of coriander. I didn’t know October/November were the best times here for this plant. It is definitely not what it says on the seed packet.
On the short end which faces north, I planted 6 beetroot towards the bottom of the slope because I wanted some plants for seed. I have left them because they won’t flower until next year but they are massive. I wrote about them in this post. The mulch that you can see behind the beetroot is Strulch which I had left over from using on my big flower bed so that I don’t have to go ferreting around to weed quite so often. It has worked a treat. I have only had to pull out 22 weeds from the mound and have had far more in the vegetable beds.
The biggest success has been the fact that it was a very warm and dry spring and early summer here and from March to now, I have only had to water it twice whereas during the dry spells I had to water the vegetable beds once a week. It is just as well it hasn’t needed much watering because it is not easy to water – it just runs straight off it if you are not careful. The second time I watered, I created little bowls behind the strawberry plants and watered into those so that it didn’t run straight off. It is for this watering reduction alone that I will build more of these beds both at home and on the allotment. What I do need to get better at is which plants to put on which side of the mound to maximise its different elements.
Have you built one of these and if so, what do you plant in it?