An old technique from Eastern Europe has been revived by permaculturists: the Hügelkultur (Hill-Culture).
You lay dead branches and / or trunks in long hills and cover them with earth. The decaying mass of wood acts as a sponge and food source. Dead wood, which is no longer suitable as firewood, still has a useful function. You can also speed up the process by adding other nitrogen sources. So you can also add leaves, mowed grass, straw, cardboard, newspapers, manure, compost and other biomass to the old wood. Plant the earth over it and plant it directly to prevent erosion.
While the stumps are slowly digesting, they are a constant source of food for plants. A large bed like ours can feed for 20 or more years. Because the digestion process also generates heat, plants grow faster and more exuberantly and you also extend the season slightly.
The digestion process also ensures aeration of the soil. So you don't have to dig the bed all the time. Rainwater is retained by the wood. In principle, you never have to water the bed again after the start-up period, the experts claim. At most during extremely long droughts.
In our case, the hill was built in a semicircle and facing south. The hill is therefore directly illuminated by the sun and the reflecting light from the pond (in winter at least when the plants in the pond are pruned). In combination with the moisture from the nearby water, we hope to create a warm and moist micro climate where we can grow tropical plants like bananas and maybe even pine apple.
Outline of the future hill. In a second stage we extended it on the left hand side into an almost complete half circle.
And then the labour began, loads of branches and trunks filled up with soil. Eventually we ran out of wood and soil and had to wait a few months to save material.
It took us almost a year to finish the hill. And actually only the top and south side are finished, the north side still has to wait.
The top layer in particular was a lot of work in the end. When it was ready, we sowed seeds, soil cover (Alfalfa and clover) and various vegetables.
A structure of reeds to stabilize and finally a thin mulch layer. This was february 2020.
the ochre room
the sienna room
Garden and Pond
Garden in Winter
The Sienna Room
The Sienna Room
The garden as seen from the terrace of our house. The arrow shows the location of the Hügel and in front of it the edge of the pond.
There are still many people in the world who cannot believe that we wash away our physical waste with purified drinking water. And you can't blame them. Sewers are reprehensible. In addition, they also drain rainwater, really incredible.
The solution is so simple (and so hygienic), a compost toilet or dry toilet.
The one we have separates urine and faeces. The urine goes directly underneath a layer of mulch into the garden and number 2 falls into a (biodegradable) bag and is covered with sawdust or another carbon additive. As a result, the aerobic decomposition can start immediately and a possible bad odor is avoided.
When the bag is full, it goes on a separate compost heap and stays there for about a year and a half to ensure good composting and to ensure that all pathogenic micro-organisms have disappeared.
And believe me, it is completely odorless.
In this way we save many liters of water and we keep all the nutrients that we would otherwise flush away on our site.
The Chinese economy was based on this cycle for 4,000 years, until about 50 years ago Western civilization had to make its appearance ...
The swimming pond is a project from about 10 years ago.
The pond consists of 3 parts: a deep (3 m.) part for swimming, a part of about 1 meter deep for lilies to cool the water and finally the shallow part where the helophytes are, the plants that purify the water. This is only 30 cm deep.
The plants are on a felt-like cloth and underneath are the tubes that suck the water from the pond to get back into the deep part. The circulation is important, in the summer the entire volume of the pond (approx. 60 m3) must pass through the regenerative zone at least once a day.
The result is a clear pond with living water, all kinds of insects live in and around it. A huge asset to the garden's biodiversity.