Recently we got to chat with Heather Merritt, a friend of Snohomish Conservation District, about her installation of hugelkultur at her property near Lake Cassidy in Lake Stevens. Hügelkultur is a German word that means hill or mound. In agriculture and gardening, it means no-dig raised beds constructed from decaying wood debris and other compostable biomass plant materials. They hold moisture, build fertility, maximize surface volume and are great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. The process helps to improve soil fertility, water retention, and soil warming, thus benefiting plants grown on or near such mounds. (Sources: Wikipedia and Permaculture UK).
Digging back in our files, we already covered hugelkultur in a great Nexus article back in June 2009 by Lois Ruskell. All things can be reused and recycled!
Our interview with Heather:
How did you learn about hugelkultur?
I attended a talk about permaculture in Woodinville at 21 Acres, where I heard Paul Wheaton speak. I met Cameron from Snohomish Conservation District there, as well.
(Hugelkultur is described in detail on Paul Wheaton’s website called “richsoil.” There are so many photos and ways to build them! Grab an idea and get going.)
When did you start your hugelkultur?
Which trees did you use for the base of your hugelkultur?
We used logs that were already broken down on the property, so mostly alder.
How much physical labor was required?
We moved the trees into place and then I spent a lot of time shoveling yards of manure. All doable. I want to make sure that all people know that they are capable of doing this themselves!
What did you plant for your first year?
We tried some food plants - beans, and tomato starts, which were really happy. They were way more productive that the raised beds. We also planted borage, calendula and swiss chard.
How much did you water?
To get the mounds established we watered them as much as we did our raised beds. The hugelkultur is supposed to be be more self sustaining or holding its water better in the second year, and even better in the third year.
How much land do you have?
We live on about 5 acres of land in Lake Stevens near Lake Cassidy.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Heather! Want to share your success or creative story about lawns to lettuce? Please get in touch with us.