Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hugelkultur and Huhns

I am so excited about two new developments at our little "homestead." 

The first is the Huhns - I mean, hens (I just wanted to say it in German to sound cool with "hugelkulture" in the title).  Ours have taken to nesting in the daffodils (cute!), pooping on the patio (nasty!), and producing amazingly delicious eggs (amazing!).  Every time I go to the grocery store, I rejoice a little bit because I don't have to buy eggs!

In other news (since I know you've all been waiting eagerly to hear), the "dead sticks in a bucket" that my husband has been patiently enduring are starting to turn into baby grapevines in a bucket (only 2 of the 5...the rest may have been planted upside down!).  These will soon be planted at the base of our huge trellis.  I don't know how many years it will take for them to become a huge, shady vine over the porch and walkway, but we have to start sometime!

Here is where my other German word comes into play: hugelkultur.  In this case, I had a really good reason to use the German word, since the English translation is roughly "A bunch of rotting wood buried in the ground, with lots of organic matter mixed in and a garden growing on top."  I've tried to also incorporate a swale-and-berm combination, so this hugelbeet (the name for one such buried-wood-mound-garden) will hopefully take advantage of rain water coming down the hill in the garden, too.

Here are some stolen pictures of hugelkultur and swales-and-berms so you can see what the heck I'm talking about:

First, a hugelkultur hugelbeet:
picture credit: FuoriBorgo

And second, a series of swales and berms built on a slope: 

picture credit: GardeningInHell

In the photo below, you are looking roughly downhill (the berm is built as close to on-contour or level as I could eyeball it), so see how the water will go right in the little depression?  It will work perfectly...I hope.

I've been saving my pennies by doing crappy-looking things like growing my grapevines in ugly buckets, and have saved up for my first ever blueberry bush (on the right) and comfrey (the weedy-looking thing in front of the bush).  Apparently, comfrey is like the holy grail of nutrient-collecting plants, and lots of permaculture-type gardeners love it.  There are also two rhubarbs in that mess of potatoes and radishes, which I hope will be a good start toward more perennial edibles to round out all the annual veggies.

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