We keep hitting this weird cycle of warm, windy days followed by ice storms. A friend from Colorado asked about our snow totals (she and I both lived on the mountain where we regularly had five feet or more of snow on our roof at any given time, not to mention the ice rink which comprised our driveway) and I sent her a video of my kids sledding down the wheelchair ramp attached to the house.
It is slick, but disappointing as far as fluffy snow goes. Joe prepped the kids before our first snow of the season here by saying, “guys, listen. It isn’t like Colorado snow where you get to build a snowman. It’s like the frozen stuff you scrape out of your deep freeze.”
But in the meanwhile I’ve been trying to make a garden plan. When we moved here, we stuck plants right in the ground, digging through the red landscaping mulch and fabric the former owners had used to cover the patio. In old pictures I found in the barn I can tell there used to be a cistern and a strawberry patch. Before I’d seen the pictures, it was all guesswork. I’d shovel, slice open the landscaping fabric, hit rock, and try again.
It was convenient to not have to till and the extra mulch helped keep weeds out.
This year, however, we are moving the garden behind the house and saving the strawberry patch area for strawberries and ranunculus. I’m in the process of carting the red mulch to the garden area to line the rows and have a nice walking space. We’re collecting cardboard boxes so we can lay them on the grassy area and create no-till rows for flowers and vegetables.
I’m mainly lazy and don’t want to build garden bed boxes because sturdy, well-made DIY projects aren’t up my alley. This presents a risk since Minnie and the armadillo gang seem intent on digging up every little scent I put in the ground…but Joe promises me a fence–maybe even an electric one, which he assures me will take care of that problem. He is also lazy about garden beds.
So while searching for a lazy-man’s approach to garden beds, I was flipping through a garden book and came upon a German method of gardening with mounded beds. Since we are in German Lutheran territory, it seemed like the only right thing to do.
The base of the mound is supposed to be five feet or so wide with the top about 12-18 inches across. I think you plant all over the mound, not just at the top, to reduce erosion. The benefits of the hugelkultur seem to be multi-fold, since I won’t have to think about composting, just layering in the nutrients that will break down quickly.
It is a rotating bed, so each year the crop changes and maximizes produce based on the state of the soil decay.
I didn’t put it in the picture, but by years five and six the mound will likely be flat (knowing us it will be flat by the end of this summer) and ready for perennials. Who in the world can plan five or six years out? I don’t even know what I’m eating for lunch today, but that’s another story.
And if I can keep Minnie out of the coffee grounds and eggshell layer, that will be a miracle in itself.