Updated: Sep 9, 2020
A Hugel Mound (pronounced Hoo-gul), is a no-dig raised bed that uses decayed wood and other compostable plant materials to create a wonderful environment to grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Hugelkultur comes from the German word for "hill culture" or "hill mound". We are currently using Hugel Mounds for all of our vegetables and herbs as we are preparing the other pasture land to set up for our greenhouses.
Hugel mounds are a great, cheap and easy technique to improve soil fertility, water rentention, and soil warming. This hundreds of years old practice was first started in German societies. They are constructed by first marking out an area, then piling on wood (alders, apple, cottonwood, poplar, willow, birch are great ones), branches, plant waste, compost, and soil on the ground. The pile needs to form a pyramid shape, with a slope. This technique does take years to fully develop (so best to start in a place you know will be there for awhile).
Over time, these mounds will release nutrients from the branches, compost, and plant waste that will benefit your plants. The wood also brings and lets out water, therefore not requiring intensive watering.
These mounds can be free - standing, underground, or enclosed. If you are interested in starting your own, it can be done with most materials found in your backyard.
For more information how to build Hugel Mounds, check out this blog, he has five easy steps!