Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hugel kultur bed and first harvest

Our front yard faces west and the northern half is dominated by a large mountain ash. This is a lovely old tree (about 50 years, we think) but it has been succumbing to fireblight. I've pruned the blight a number of times but it keeps coming back and I think we'll have it removed this autumn before the wind takes it out.

This portion of the lawn is mostly an iris bed with a small vegetable plot and about 45 square feet of lawn abutting the city sidewalk. In preparation for taking the tree out, I decided to convert the lawn to a garden bed. The soil is fairly nasty so we decided to try a small hugel kultur bed.

Basically the sod and dirt is lifted out, old branches are dropped in (which create spaces for air and water and release nutrients slowly over time), the sod is reversed and replaced and then the whole thing is topped with soil and compost. True hugel kultur beds are large mounds but apparently every small beds will work. Above you can see the sod stripped out and the wood dropped in place. Below, a very exhausted looking Jessica has helped me replace the sod and swept up.

That took most of Saturday. This morning I put some manure and dirt in top, dug the rest of the bed and we're good to plant in a week to two. Relatively new wood apparently grabs a lot of the nitrogen from the soil as it starts to rot so we're going to plant bush beans (yellow, green and purple) to fix some back in. Along the brick walk we'll do some tomatoes (plum on stakes and cherry in cages). When the trees comes out in the autumn (and assuming my body recovers from this weekend's work...), we'll look at putting in three fruit trees along the hedge line.

We also puttered and cleaned and planted some more onions. The first of the onions we planted in the old garden bed have poked up. In the cold frames, the garlic is up about seven inches (the wood in behind is a 2x6"). 

I will likely remove the glass on this frame in about a week when temperatures stabilize--the garlic is bumping up against it. The kale has also germinated and will need to be thinned in a week or so. Lovely to see things growing!

The chives in the new garden bed are up and a bunch of them went into the potatoes we're roasting tonight.  If you look closely, you  can also see a tiny spider on the tallest chive on the right--he has spun a web between the two tallest chives. I also some bees of some kind buzzing about today.

We managed to get some lettuce and chard seeded into the left-most new cold frame (below). Not sure what will go in the frame to the right. I wonder about seeding in some rutabagas?

Hopefully we will see some bulbs flower out this week--lots are up and the daffodils have buds. Now I'm off to have a nap.

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