A big part of the fun in the garden is experimenting. Several years ago we created two hugelkulture beds. Hugelkulture means “hill culture.” A bed is created by piling up wood and then putting other organic matter and soil over it.
For one of our beds we dug a trench, put old logs in, and then returned the soil. For the other bed we just piled the logs on top of the ground and covered them with soil. The logs are intended to act as sponges. When it rains, they soak in water and hold it far longer than soil will. Given that half the year we have no rain, it certainly seemed worth a try.
This summer, we are really noticing the benefits. Hugelkulture One (the trench) hosts our bean trellis and pole beans. They are booming, skyrocketing. The beans are reaching high above the six-foot trellis and have to be convinced to come back down and run horizontally. We are harvesting this week the first lovely five-and-six-and-seven-inch-long beans dangling amid all the leaves.
Hugelkulkture Two (the log-raised pile) is home to both summer and winter squashes and a cluster of bush beans at one end. Elsewhere in the garden, the squashes tend to droop during the day in our extreme heat. We have given them all some shade cloth for protection. But the hugelkulture squashes are positively perky no matter the temperature, as are the beans. Apparently there is moisture stored in those old dead logs, and it supports new green life even months after the rain stops.
Over the past three years the wonderful new water tanks have collected thousands of gallons of rainwater during the winter. That water supports a much larger garden even in the hot, dry summer. The tanks turn apparently parched, sere conditions into an experience of abundance. So too, we are discovering, do our hugelkulture beds. What other experiments might we try?
There are so many possibilities. That is so much the experience of Practice: no matter how dry the season, there are life-giving sources waiting to be tapped.