The couple of months that change fall into winter are busy times at the homestead. First – cleaning up from last summer’s harvest then preparing next season’s garden for winter.
Finally, taking a moment to step back and observe; looking for opportunities to expand on next seasons gardening opportunities.
Each year my gardens get bigger; finding a couple of small sunny spaces that support plant growth. For the past few years I have used a hybrid of an old gardening technique known as – Hugelkultur.
Hugelkultur (Heeg-al kul-tur) is a gardening method that has been used in Germany and parts of Europe for many centuries. The method is making raised garden beds by piling dead, dry and rotten wood then covering it with mulch, compost and dirt. The wood absorbs and retains moisture (from snow, rain and watering) then slowly releases it over time. The wood deteriorates and breaks down into organic matter while releasing nutrients and amending the soil.
Fall is the best time to build additional Hugelkultur beds and containers. Not only because it’s one less thing needed to be completed in the busy spring season, but it allows time for moisture from winter’s snows to slowly permeate into the dead wood. Moisture soaked Hugelkultur garden beds and containers offer a head start for next summer’s soil moisture retention.
To garden using the Hugelkultur method simply place a layer of dry or decayed wood tightly along the bottom of a raised bed or container with drainage holes. Add a thick layer of dry twigs, pine needles, leaves, or grass clippings to cover the wood. Fill beds or containers with a soil and compost mixture. Finally, soak the bed or container with water every few days until winter snows arrive.
Take a baby step by planning ahead for larger harvests.