Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hugel hole preperation

Last year I prepared and planted cucumbers and tomatoes in 3 hugel holes with mediocre results.
Just improved/redid the holes this year using what I learned from last year's experience.

In one hole I had put in horizontally buried branches and also mixed in some leaves. It did poorly. Just adding logs into clay soil isn't enough to make a good growing bed.  So I redug this hole out. 2' deep, 2' diameter.

These were the branches I dug out.

Put in vertical stump and branches about 10" to 1' in length. Made sure I left one shovelful depth between the soil surface and the stump. This is so I can easily do a "single dig" in future years, i.e. dig in more organic matter one shovelful deep.

 Then I added wood chips and soil to fill in the hole.  Alternated 3 shovelfuls of chips, then 3 shovelfuls of dirt. This seems like a lot of wood chips, but after just one summer this clay soil absorbs all but the largest chips.

In this hugel hole last year, I just threw in a stump vertically and mixed in a little bit of leaves. The cucumber plant did very well in this hole. The vertical stump seems to wick away excess moisture will keeping the dirt just the right amount of moistness for the plants.  The stump in the ground was from last year.

Added some branches on top of the stump, just enough to keep the wood a shovel depth below the surface.

Then 3 shovelfuls wood chips, 3 shovelfuls dirt, ... After done the pile is 1 foot high. This will be ready to plant in 2 months, mid-April.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the soil looks like at the end of the summer. This is the first time I've added so many wood chips at once.


  1. Hi Gardenseek -

    I am currently writing an article about hugelkultur for and I would like to cite your posts. I would need a little more info to do this properly however. If you're interested in this, please contact me so we can hash out the details.


  2. Sure, I'll email you (found your email at

  3. Nice to see you back again - I almost gave up.

  4. One thing to remember is that hugelkultur's do best in their 3-4th year after wood has broken down, become sponge like and built a network of microbes, fungi and air pockets. Hope you will let those old ones keep rotting.

  5. David,
    Spring is in the air! Time to garden again.

    It will be interesting to see if it improves with age.
    One advantage for the dry, not rotted logs in my clay soil is that they wick away excess moisture. Once the logs rot they might not do this any more.

  6. I just read today that you never want to add wood to your soil, because wood will deplete all of the nitrogen in the soil as it decomposes.