Most people imagine gardens and allotments as rather flat affairs, but imagine your garden/allotment with a few mounds 6/7 feet tall and 5 feet wide which are super rich in nutrients for years, retaining so much water that you do not have to irrigate them … ever! Enter hugelkultur, an odd sounding German word which means hill culture or mound culture.
Hugelkultur is basically a composting process which aims to replicate natural conditions found within nature (such as within a forest). Layers of woody material is mixed with leaf litter, green waste and soil to make mounds topped with soil/compost all forming a mound which is perfect for planting. While there is no hard and fast rule about how big to make your mounds, generally bigger is better! Starting off with mound around 2 feet in height is a good idea and will retain enough moisture for around 3 weeks, so you can safely go on holiday with out worrying about watering your mound!
As your mounds age the woody material at the core will decay,causing your mound to shrink in height and width. To combat this you can add new material to your mound every year or so, gradually increasing your mound from a 2 foot baby to a 7 foot monster mound.
Start your mound with large woody material, ideally from your winter pruning jobs! Topped with smaller branches/woody material, wood chippings, green waste, leaf litter and top with compost. Now your mound is ready for spring time planting! Its so simple and wonderful why not give it a try this year.