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HugelKultur Idea using Palm Mulch

Permaculture Garden Ways

Hügelkultur, German word translated “Mound Culture”, is another permaculture idea we are excited to implement on our property. It is another way we can “store” water in our ground. With the little rainfall we get each year, every drop counts.

 

When we first began looking for gardening with low water use, we put in a grey water system to maximize our water usage. Another concept, our self water container garden, is one of our favorites because it allows the plants to drink as much as they need, and keep the evaporation down to a minimum. We installed several rain barrels in line to catch rainwater which then in turn, provide water to our self water containers. We have also implemented several berms and basins throughout the property to harvest water. After watching the video, Back to Eden, we added wood chips to all our garden areas. The only problem is that for the few times we do get rain, they are in the forms of “flash floods” so our wood chips sometimes go sailing away with the flowing rain water.

 

We have several things growing in our wood chip basins (that didn't wash away) located under our trees. This is not because of Hugelkultur planning but by accident. We had a heavy producing tomato plant pop up and grow underneath our mesquite tree last season. This year another has come up. We will be planting more veggies under our trees next season :)

 

Hugelkultur Defined

The definition of Hügelkultur, according to Wikipedia is:

Hügelkultur is the practice of burying large volumes of wood to increase soil water retention. The porous structure of wood acts as a sponge when decomposing underground. During the rainy season, masses of buried wood can absorb enough water to sustain crops through the dry season.

Stumbling Upon Palm Stumps

There are many examples of ways people apply this concept on the internet. We tried a small project using old palm tree stumps. We acquired the stumps from our good friends, Sharen & Marvin, a few years back. We have used the stumps for sitting around the fire, a table & chairs, for the goats to jump on, and broken pieces have been used for palm mulch. The video below explains the project idea:

 

 

 

 

Results

We will post pictures of the progress in the future so check back at a later time. But for now, we know just the place to build our first “Mound Culture”.

 

Traditional Hügelkultur

When and if the monsoon rain brings a downpour, the rain water flows directly towards the front of the house. We have tried raising the ground a bit with paths, putting several basins and digging ditches to direct the water. However, none of these methods have worked perfectly. We will be putting in a Hügelkultur raised garden area. The idea is not only to block the running water, but direct it diagonally away and around the house. And, as long as the sun flipping its axis doesn’t bring larger than normal flash floods, we hope to finally solve our water problem.

 


Shelly Curtis
August 18, 2013