Friday, February 9, 2018

How to Compost Logs in Your Backyard

Large logs and branches generally do not work well with most backyard composting. They take years, sometimes decades, to break down and they fill up a lot of space. But if you find yourself with a bunch of branches or large logs and want to try something new, I have an idea for you: Hugelkultur.

Hugel-what-tur? Hugelkultur is a method of building a garden bed using decaying wood. As it decays, the wood supplies nutrients to the soil and acts as a sponge, soaking up water when available and slowly releasing that water to your plants. Neato.

This is what you need: wood and other bulky material like brush and vines, a shovel, and space.

Just dig a one foot deep trench. Place hardwoods, then softwoods, and then brush into the trench. You can  mound even higher with straw, manure, and more traditional compostables. Cover the whole thing with the soil you removed to dig the trench.

Now you have a sweet Hugelkultur mound. How cool are you?

Graphic credit: Rich Soil permaculture blog.
Hugelkultur originated in Germany and Eastern Europe and means "hill culture" in German. The idea replicates what naturally happens on the forest floor- trees falling, decaying, and building the soil. 

Avoid planting on the mound for at least a few months as the material decomposing on top will steal nitrogen from the surrounding soil at first and the mound will settle some. Your Hugelkultur mound may take 10 to 20 years for the wood to slowly decompose but that is the idea. This would be a great addition to a garden with really poor soil or for someone wanting a raised bed.


For more details on Hugelkultur, check out: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur


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