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Building a Hugelkultur Raised Bed

By dave
July 18, 2011

Sheet mulching is a technique of laying organic material in layers on the ground to build up a raised bed of rich soil for your plants. Hugelkultur is an extension of this technique, where a gardener builds quite tall raised beds using logs and dead branches as the first layer in this bed.

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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Bubbles
Jul 18, 2011 7:38 AM CST
I've just come in from watering starting at 6 AM. I've always wanted a veggie garden, but didn't think I could have it on such alkaline soil. I have a raised bed that I planned to use, but I filled it with hibiscus pots this spring. I'm rethinking all the tropicals and wanting to try a few food crops. After reading the article and watching the video, I think this is doable. Where do we start posting questions?!
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jul 18, 2011 2:51 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Sandi, I'm glad I've got you thinking about raising some vegetables! Every vegetable you grow for yourself is one that you don't have to buy (usually from a distant farm and shipped in).

You can post questions right here. Smiling
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jul 19, 2011 6:18 AM CST
Thanks I will! We just got back from the dump (taking photos for Boopaint), and I saw these huge piles of free mulch. I could see lots of cedar and oak bark. The look like they've been sitting a very long time. My raised bed has really good soil already, but I wondered if I could layer some of this mulch and then pile the grass clippings on top of that while it's too hot to do much else.

And...as long as there are "paths" to keep me off the soil, there isn't a need for the circle is there? I don't have room for that in my small window of sunshine out back.
[Last edited by Bubbles - Jul 19, 2011 10:14 AM (+)]
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Feb 16, 2012 5:37 PM CST
I finally took the screen covering off of my first "bay" of the raised bed. Nearly all the tree bark and sticks I buried are rotted. I placed a small fence across the back today to temporarily thwart the armadillos that run along the fence line. The bed is raised about 4 ft as the yard slopes dramatically on that side. There are 8" limestone walkways every three or four feet between the bays, so I won't have to walk on the soil. I wondered about all that limestone, but the entire hill our neighborhood is built on is limestone. Doesn't look like much, but I'm kind of excited about getting started. The length of the bed is about 20 feet. It's not as big as yours, Dave, but I would have never thought about planting a vegetable garden there if I hadn't seen your article.
Thumb of 2012-02-16/Bubbles/66e2c2
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Feb 16, 2012 8:09 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

That looks great, Sandi! All that rotted wood looks just delicious to me. Smiling Your plants are going to be so happy this year!
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Feb 16, 2012 8:24 PM CST
Thanks. The pic looks like it's a tiny space. It's really much larger, just too wild looking to post the rest until I groom it a bit!
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Feb 16, 2012 8:34 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Keep us posted on the progress!
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Feb 16, 2012 8:44 PM CST
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Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Garden Sages I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Horseshoe
Feb 16, 2012 8:59 PM CST
Ditto...would love to see your progress, Sandi/Bubbles. Congrats!

Shoe
Name: Thom Foote
Colbert, WA (Zone 6a)
Organic herb farmers
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thomfoote
Feb 29, 2012 9:53 PM CST
Bubbles, you might be careful about using even rotting cedar. It contains compounds that helps it resist rot but those compounds can have a detrimental effect on some of the critters that you want in your mound, i.e.- mycorhyssuullssss (dont' how to spell this), mycelia, among some. Just a thought.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Feb 29, 2012 10:34 PM CST
Thanks for the warning, thomfoote. I ddin't know that about cedar effect. i know nothing much grows under them here. We've had quite a bit of rain that's stalled anything in the garden. The bark I used in the bed was Mulberry and Elm. We haven't made a run to get mulch yet. So much to learn, but I'm open to all suggestions. It's just been too wet or foggy to get out and work in the garden this week.
Our garden club has just handed out the club cultivars for us to grow for the flower show competition. It's a large cherry tomato this year. I'm going to do my best to not embarrass myself! Have a grow box ready for the tomatoes!
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Dec 14, 2014 7:25 PM CST
Update: I tended to my first bed, looking forward to spring. When I dug into the soil (which was really, really rich), I uncovered wiggly termites. In the time it took me to run to the house screeching, the termites had disappeared. He didn't say so, but I'm fairly sure DH thought I was crazy. I was determined to find them again

Our house is up on a limestone outcropping that is "honeycombed" with pockets. I dug and dug around, but couldn't prove they had been there. Two days later, I noticed a few holes in the siding on the front of the little greenhouse that abuts our limestone house. I pulled at the siding and found the same creeping crawlers directly across from my garden bed. We had to spray the GH and the garden bed, and take off the siding. I decided I couldn't grow vegetables in that spot. I further decided I couldn't grow vegetables! Whistling I'm sticking to flowers!
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Dec 14, 2014 8:10 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Termites, bad. Thumbs down They're good out in the woods but so destructive to structures.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Dec 14, 2014 9:08 PM CST
Yes, a little too close for comfort.

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