Hugelkultur on Rented Land


Hugelkultur is the German term for garden beds created with buried wood and other organic material. The woody ingredients break down over time, providing vegetables with nutrients and moisture, as the wood holds water and slowly releases much needed minerals. Hugelkultur is best implemented using timber that’s already on your site, and if it’s rotted, all the better. Breaking down over the next 5 to 10 years, the wood will eventually transform into rich beautiful soil.

Hugelkultur bed with turnips and leeks

Building My First Hugelkultur Beds

Two autumns ago, utilizing rotted firewood and fallen tree branches, I built four 8’ X 4’ X 2’ tall hugelkultur beds in my established fenced garden. As a renter with .91 acres under my “control”, I had already expanded my garden by 50% without asking the landlord first. I moved my fencing out 10 feet to the south, turning a 50’ X 20’ plot into a 50’ X 30’ one. Using cardboard and leaves as “pizza mulch” (versus the standard multi-layered lasagna mulch), the passerby couldn’t tell the difference. These new hugelkultur beds were also unnoticeable as I purposely constructed them in the back section of the garden.

Hugelkultur beds showing off their snow melting ability in the spring

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