Thursday, April 2, 2020

First hugelkultur bed of 2020

I'll be posting more gardening and homesteading pieces in the coming days, since working from home has taken on many layers of meaning. Today I built a hugelkultur bed. 
The top layer here is leaves, grass, and cardboard that I'd already let my chickens play and scratch in before raking up. Underneath is a layer of semi-rotted woody debris. The woody layer lends height and spaces for oxygen, helps with water retention, and provides a mix of soil microorganisms to support the decomposition process.
The shredded leaves, grass, and cardboard mainly provide carbon as they break down. To these I added a thin layer of bedding from the last time we cleaned out the chicken coop. The chicken manure adds nitrogen.

Here the bedding has been spread over the leaf layer. The right mix of carbon and nitrogen will help everything to break down, creating compost right in place where it will be available to the plants. I'll keep adding layers of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials, which is the "lasagna" gardening technique.
The last part I did today was collect finished compost from one of my two bins and spread that over the litter layer. I didn't sift this compost, so it has bits of woody stems left in it. That's OK because I have more layering to do before planting my seedlings and mulching.
The pallets in the background are waiting to be broken down for fencing material for when the ground thaws and we can replace the existing chicken run. They're also what my compost bins are made from.
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