Decatur High School Garden to Host Hugelkultur Demo Saturday

This Saturday, the Decatur High Community Garden will demonstrate a hugelkultur bed, a European method for improving poor soil by burying plant materials.

Diane Loupe, a frequent Patch contributor, chairs the grounds committee of the Decatur High School PTA, which oversees the DHS Community Garden.

Hugelkultur, an old eastern European method of burying plant materials to improve poor soil, is coming to the Decatur High School Community Garden on Saturday, Dec. 3 and 10.

On Dec. 3, the garden will host the "Big Dig," a hugelkultur raised bed using an old Eastern European form of permaculture. 

Hugelkultur involves digging a deep trench and composting woody materials and debris to enrich soil and provide for long term water conservation. 

The hugelkultur planting method is an effective, low-cost, long-term way to deeply enrich soil and conserve water.  After initial construction and preparation, these beds soak up rainwater, store water and gradually release moisture within the bed and to surrounding soil. 

The slow decomposition of the woody materials releases nutrients over a number of years. Gradual underground decomposition also provides a small heat source allowing for a slightly extended spring planting season.

Potatoes, squash, melons and some species of berries thrive in this kind of bed.  

The DHS demonstration at the corner of West Howard and Commerce streets will include construction of a 10-foot hugelbed from start to finish.

During the first session on Dec. 3, participants will learn about the background and advantages of this gardening method, and will help dig a 2-foot deep trench approximately 10 feet long and 4 feet wide.

On Dec. 10, volunteers will build the hugelkultur bed by layering wood, plant waste, compost and soil materials and creating the organic "torte" that becomes the raised permaculture bed. 

These woody materials can be of various sizes, and gardeners can use rotting, seasoned or recently cut wood. 

Avoid using black walnut, due to allelopathic toxicity; black locust, due to its density; and cedar, because that wood’s oils and resins preserve the wood and prevent needed decay.

All necessary materials will be available at the garden.


Dec. 3:  Big Dig   9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Dec. 3-10.  Gather woody materials from adjacent forest; collect garden waste and compost; manure, etc. (ongoing)

Dec. 10: Hugelkultur bed construction, planting  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Join us for these two free hands-on workshops. If you have them, please bring shovels, pickaxes, pitchforks and gloves. 

For more information, contact Diane Loupe at dloupe@mindspring.com or 404-377-8264. 


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