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Starting out, hugel garden (with pics)

Ellis Clark

Joined: Mar 03, 2013
Posts: 1
So while I save up to buy land I've been allowed to practice techniques in a backyard. On the weekends I hand pickaxed/dug out a section and collected rotting logs from the area.

Problem is the soil is very limited, and almost instantly becomes rocky clay. I've put down logs and leaves and I have a bit of topsoil but I don't think it's nearly enough.

Not quite sure where to go for manure, etc other than home depot but that doesn't feel quite right.

I could also use some advice for Northern Virginia growing if someone could point me in the direction of something on planting time frames, etc. I really wanted to try some pawpaw/perennials along with some annuals. But I'm working on figuring that out myself.

Hope that didn't sound too stupid, I'm a complete novice, in my early 20s from the city.

I will try to keep posting photos as it progresses




Roxanne Sterling-Falkenstein

Joined: Dec 17, 2011
Posts: 88
Location: Cave Junction, Oregon
Try a tree service in your area, they often have woodchips from tree work they do. Call to ask if they are doing any work in your area, if they are.. offer to take the wood chips; avoid less desirable types of wood..look those up on the hugelkultur page.. Also tree prunings from orchards are available about now.. You can also get produce scraps from a healthfood store produce section all kinds of good stuff..if you bring a bucket they will fill for you, do that every week or more.. valuable for compost pile, mix with dry stuff in layers and let it rot for a year or so, you'll have a huge pile of great dirt/compost. There is a cool thing called rain gardens also. where you dig shallow trenches from your downspout off your house. You get the water to flow to plants in yard planted in shallow basins. You could do that and cover your pile with that all the dirt and dig the trench to your hugelkultur. IF your layout allows it. Just some ideas..hope they help some.

A great article about them much more detailed http://midwestpermaculture.com/2008/12/front-yard-rain-garden-and-berm/

AKA Wilde Hilde
S.Oregon High Mountain Valley 8b
"Ensnar'd in flowers, I fall in the grass."-Marvell
dj niels

Joined: Feb 16, 2013
Posts: 173
Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
Ellis, I don't know where you are located, what kind of place it is, etc, but many areas have riding stables or town composting operations. I have also collected chopped leaves from park departments, coffee grounds from a local convenience store, even shredded paper, as well as downed branches after storms, etc.

Our local riding stable just piles up the manure and bedding in a big heap, free for the taking. Some folks don't like horse manure, but it makes great compost or a nitrogen layer on top of the wood, with wood chips, spoiled hay, straw, leaves, etc on top to help keep weeds from sprouting. With a thick enough top mulch, not much will come through, and what does is fairly easy to pull, or let chickens forage on it if you can have any there.

I have plans to form a rain garden in my front yard once the snow is gone and the ground thaws. I am hoping this will help channel water to plantings so I am not so dependent on the hose.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
you don't have to use manure if you can't get it or don't have it..just use what you have put down, add some topsoil over the top and plant and mulch..you can topdress with manure should you want to put it in later.

your hugel bed looks just fine..don't worry if you can't do more, you have done that much..sometimes we stress cause we can't get something huge..but oftentimes smaller bites of good starts is better than trying to go all out with something more than you have materials for.

I dug wood into some very small beds and then just put the soil and some compost over the top..it helped tremendously..and it was just a couple feet of wood..like yours.


Bloom where you are planted.
subject: Starting out, hugel garden (with pics)