Hugel Culture probably the best soil amendment

Hugel Culture: probably the best soil amendment

Do it once and forget your soil for 30 years.

Hugelkultur is a way to improve your soil and obtain the best substratum. The process is hard but the benefits are enormous. You will work hard one or two days but your soil will become the best compost to grow your plants without any other amendment during decades.

Traditionally we compost soft green plant matter, leaves and very small branches. But using hugel culture we can compost thick branches or even huge heavy tree trunks. This way of composting was invented in North Europe (Germany and Scandinavian countries) centuries ago.

Traditional compost is an excellent way to improve the soil. In fact is so good that any kind of plant or tree will show its gratitude with excellent growth and harvests. But the main problem is that a lot of material in needed for each plant. Therefore, the whole process will maintain you quite busy. It is a non – stop process. You must add to your compost pile new material every day. And once the new material breaks down it becomes so reduced that it seems you have done almost nothing. But I insist: composting is a wonder. Try something. Dig a hole in a poor soil and you will check that no worms live there. In fact the best way to check the quality of the soil is seeing the amount of worms that you find. If you see many, be sure your soil is excellent.

I had a poor soil and decided to improve it with compost. But one day my chickens spoilt it all with their legs and claws. They began to dig and all the sudden I saw hundreds of enormous worms. What did that mean? It meant that my poor soil had become excellent. The color changed from brown to earthy black and the texture was loose and spongy. Remember: worms are the best quality marker.

But, as I said, composting is takes daily time. Hugel Kulture is something that you must do once every 30 years. It is well worth it! Centuries ago farmers found an excellent way to recycle fallen trees to return the nutrients contained in huge logs back into the soil. We are talking about whole big trees! Mother Earth has been doing this process during millions of years. Old trees fall to the ground, where they get covered in organic matter and little by little they get rotten and decompose into the soil.

Hugel Kulture in German means mound culture or hill culture in English. How to do it? It is quite simple. You must dig a hole in your soil. It must be as large as needed. But it doesn’t make any sense to dig a small hole because you are going to bury trees and big logs. And the bigger your Hugel Kultur is, the more space to cultivate you will have. To grow about 30 plants, you will need about 100 square meters. The hole must be about six feet deep and about 10 feet meters high. Fill the hole with logs, trees, branches and compostable materials. Finally cover everything with a thin layer of system of soil to create a mound which can be planted up as a form of mounded raised garden bed.

When the buried wood rots down, it slowly releases the nutrients contained within it to the plants growing on or near the hügelkultur bed. On top of it, the warmth produced by the composting process helps plant growth.

Any composting process produces humus that improves the soil. It increases soil fertility and  water retention.

Add a thin layer of compost over the pile to inoculate it with composting microorganisms to get the whole composting process started quicker. Anyway, although you can use it from the beginning, it is advisable to wait a year before growing your cannabis plants. One year is enough for the wood to decompose and release all its potential.

What kind of wood should we use?

Curiously, not all type of trees are valid for Hugel Kulture. For instance, conifers should not be used. The best trees are those with soft wood like poplars or willow trees. Hard wood trees are not good either. Avoid trees like elms. Their wood is excellent to make fire but it takes forever to decompose.

Once it has been done and after one year, you can grow your plants every season without the need of any further amendment. I personally add microorganisms every season and eventually a little bit of any nutrient left from any indoor culture. Hugel Kulture can be used for 30 years. But the more you improve it the more it will last. But in any case it is a wonder see how your plants thrive full of health and produce sticky enormous flowers without any help. You work once and collect the benefits during 30 years. It is well worth it!

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