Huli Huli Chicken.. It’s a Hugel Mound!

You may be asking about the referential treatment of a Hawaiian chicken dish and a newly discovered permaculture technique- hugelkulture. The chicken dish really has nothing to do with anything, but we like to use it for emphasis when announcing some exciting news. The exciting news is our newly-planted hugel mound!

Hügelkultur is a German word meaning mound culture or hill culture. The process involves replicating decomposition such as that found on the forest floor. When large trees  or nurse logs are covered with other decomposing material such as leaves, branches and soil, the logs beneath break down thereby feeding the soil and retain water from rain cycles which again, water and feed the plants above. Oh how I love a closed circuit!

So earlier in the year Wayne and Aaron  were nice enough to house and germinate heirloom seeds from a previous trip to Monticello. They also had their own seed trays going and after a year of allowing our very own hugel mound to “marinate” and become primed for planting, we were soon ready to transplant these sweet little sproutlets into the hugel mound.

Our mound was created over a year ago from large logs topped with branches, grass clippings, leaves and all other forms of debris brought back from our landscape clean-ups. All this dumpster-bound debris was piled on top. Griff took care to spread a nice layer of our black gold soil on top like a layer of dirt icing.

We waited until after the last frost date, then transplanted several varieties of tomatoes, corn, beets, beans, potatoes, onions, strawberries- the list goes on. Wayne whined there wasn’t enough fruit so we snagged a kiwi vine known to deliver a lot of fruit and work well in edible landscaping. We also added two blueberry bushes- one which is a late harvest cultivar and another mid-season.

It’s been a month now and we have not had to water the mound once and all the plants are thriving with no limp, no gimp and even the rabbits that keep peaking around haven’t bothered to nibble nary one beet leaf.

The hugel mound is a communal and experiemental effort for all the CG Fam. We invite all the crews to dig in and help cultivate the mound, learn a little about permaculture practices and of course the best part- share in the spoils. We already have noted a few things we would do differently for next year, such as plant-spacing. There may be other challenges as the days get longer and hotter.

We hope we can continue to plant within the mound into the Fall rotating out different plants. So far this has been a minimal cost- the seed packets, seed trays, growing medium and the full-size blueberry bushes and kiwi vine. We are aspiring to only use recycled and repurposed items that are brought back from jobs as either yard debris or leftovers from hardscape jobs.

We will update the blog as time rolls on and the plants continue to grow and feed off the hugel mound. Cheers!

beginning to place the mater plants
A swale beside the mound helps water shed ​and some is absorbed into the mound
Beginning to place plants and terrace the soil for planting along the sides of the hugel mound