New - Hugelkultur
A simple way to save on soil, improve water retention
Hugelkultur is an ancient bed-building method. Usually pronounced “hoo-gull culture,” this technique’s name comes from the German word meaning “mound culture.” It is also a good way to save money on the soil in a raised bed. Just fill the bottom part of your raised beds with large wood chunks like logs. Over time the wood will rot and release nutrients. As it rots, it also becomes very spongy and will act as a moisture reservoir for the soil around it. Eventually it turns into soil.
Here is a good reference on the subject: http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2015/04/hugelkultur/
When we installed our garden beds, we simultaneously cleaned up our brush pile. Below you can see a Crop Circle raised bed garden set up with a bunch of wood scrap in the bottom half. All that wood will break down over time releasing nutrients and acting like a sponge to help hold moisture. The plants still get to enjoy a good foot of soil to grow into, too.
The garden beds above and the two photos below show the various stages of preparation and production. At the peak of the season, this garden bed was lush with broccoli and cabbage. So far so good. Can't wait to see how next season goes.
Update: The next season we grew a TON of zucchinis in that bed! It's January and we still have a few whole zucchinis and a bunch more chopped up in the freezer!