“Late August 2015 we cleared a small area in the front yard of forsythia and lawn and set it in motion as permanent raised beds. Two growing seasons later and it’s pretty wonderful to see how well it all broke down. Wood chips and chopped up branches and some clay soil and we have the ingredients to make some luscious beds that grow a significant amount of annual crops, perennial crops and nursery work.”
How true. It takes time for materials to break down and turn into good soil. I made a mini hugelkultur mound or what I call a mini-mound about two years ago and I’m still waiting for it to be productive. Progress has been slow largely because we put too much clayey soil on top. In the summer, water and nutrients evaporate and drain off quickly and the heat just bakes the plants. Factoring in all the time and labor involved, plus at least two years of lost production I’m not a big fan of this method for our garden. Glad I started with a small test bed. In comparison, a nearby banana circle is dozens of times more productive in the same time frame. Water and nutrients are trapped in the center of the circle and the plants love it. We throw all our branches, trimmings, weeds and other garden wastes into the center where it becomes a perpetual compost pile that doesn’t require any maintenance. This nutrient rich environment has fueled explosive banana growth faster than anywhere else in the garden. We get large bunches of bananas and have had to thin out and transplant dozens of baby plants to avoid overcrowding.