There is a lot of dead wood and brush on the land that needs to be cleared out. Some of it we burn and some of it is being put to rest in the ground, in the garden. I am using a technique called hugelkultur. I just completed a hugelkultur bed that is a bit over 20′ by 8′. Here is a link which gives very good information about hugelkultur. Here’s another link which describes many innovative ways to build a hugel bed.
My garden beds are built such that the paths are dug out on contour and the beds are raised. The paths are filled with wood chips. I will add beds over time. The hugel beds are a little different: larger, deeper, higher, and of different composition. The hugel beds are being placed so that there is enough room for a tractor to move east to west as well as north to south at the near midway point of the garden. Eventually, the garden will consist of four main quadrants.
So far, one hugel bed has been built. I dug down with the tractor’s front end loader and added wood and brush, compost, leaves and woodchips. I put the dug out soil on top of those materials to complete the bed. There is a lot of apple and mulberry wood in there as well as a lot of softwood chips. I may find the resulting bed to be on the acidic side. We’ll see.
I think I will plant a cover crop on the hugel this year which will not require much in the way of fertility and may be able to suppress the weeds a bit…maybe sweet clover for the bees. Here is a link to a discussion about what may or may not be good choices for planting into a first year hugel bed. One hugel down, one to go!