Permaculture and hugel-kultur


Jedi Master

One part of living an independent life is to produce your own food.

For the last decade or more, that I lived in the American suburbia, I really didn't have an opportunity to do the above. I was able to raise a bed of tomato plants or a few strawberry plants and that was it. Last summer, the house that we were renting had a garden plot surrounded by the tall chain-link fence (to stop the deer from eating all the vegetables) and I dipped my toes into gardening deeper. I grew peas, squashes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers, kale, radishes, beets and mini watermelons. And I saved a lot of seeds.

This year, I am turning the tables. Our new house will be build on 1 acre of land, all surrounded by woods, far away from HOAs and hard-top roads by this summer (it is in Piedmont region of Northern Virginia, on an Eastern side of one of Appalachian ridges). I have been studying the efficient ways to create gardens and to maximize the production on small plots of land. The way to do it is called permaculture. I will point you to a popular online forum that covers all topics related to permaculture:

I found that the heating is possible very efficiently with rocket mass stoves; the green houses could be made to produce all year long if they are partially underground and use the earth as the accumulator of heat; chicken coops could be made from recycled wood using storage pallets; Hugel-kultur technique uses buried wood as a fertilizer for your plants.

This is what I have embraced in the earnest. I have had a huge surplus of poplar trees after the lot had been cleared last summer. I could use them for firewood, but I didn't need that much! So, I piled all these huge logs on the bottom of the hill, where they will be soaking water run offs and feed the plants for years to come. I will cover them with soil when the excavation of the basement starts.

And I almost forgot to mention the mushroom farm. I used the stumps from those poplar trees and infected them with mushroom spores.
It is done by drilling holes and hammering wooden dowels that have the mushroom mycelium growing in them. Such wood-loving mushrooms as reishi, shiitake and a variety of oyster will be thriving in poplar logs. It is estimated that mushrooms would bring 10% of the weight of the wood that they consume in its fruiting bodies over the next 6-10 years.

If a hive of wild honey bees, that lived in one of the poplar trees, survives this winter, I am going to have some honey.

Hopefully, all the above will make me somewhat food-independent. I will be glad to share my experience as I go. Wish me luck!



FOTCM Member
Good luck with your projects, SlavaOn. From my understanding, hard woods, such as Oak, work best for mushrooms. I suppose the poplar would work, it's just the colonies will have a shorter life span (maybe 3-4 years vs 8-10 years). Let us know how it works out. :)


The Living Force
Congratulations on your progress toward your goal! I've been reading about many gardening- and homesteading-related topics, and hugelculture is an interesting one. It's made me nervous since it is such a long term thing. Here's a nice video about it: I may try a small version of it, if only to help remediate the "soil" (sand) in our back yard from the previous owners' above-ground pool.


Jedi Master
This is the progression of my hugel-kultur garden: from placing logs, covering them with hay, piling soil on top and building raised garden beds:


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Dagobah Resident
Whoua! SlavaOn a lot of work making!
And it's only the beginning of a great adventure, so i wish you good luck and great time with your hugelkulture.

Maybe you know too, there's a technique calling in french "le bois raméal fragmenté" (the fragmented raméal wood)
It consists to bring on the surface of the soil 3 or 5 cm of fresh crushed branches, mostly of leafy trees (~80%),
it helps naturally to have a rich soil in humus, without dig, weed, even (depend of the plantation) to irrigate,also
without the necessity of fertilisants...
I give you some links, the most in french!

Again good luck, and i wish the elves will be with you !


Dagobah Resident
Hi. SlavaOn!!!I do not if you know somethig about Sepp Holzer.He has a very interesting book:Sepp Holzer`s Permaculture and Sepp Holzer The Revel Farmer.This material are going to help you a lott and increase your knowlege in Mother Earth.You will find information about him in youtube also,as the documentary The revel Farmer.

I really happy for you!!!


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Wow, you have done a lot of work!
Permies is an awesome site and forum. Keep us posted.


The Force is Strong With This One
I put together a heugle mound in a horse shoe shape and a leaf mold/wood chip grow bed at the base (inside the "u" created by the mound) last fall. I planted in there this spring and so far, the results are incredible! No watering, no weeding, no fertilizer and the crop plants are growing better than anything I have ever planted. We'll see how they finish up the season, but so far, I would highly recommend using these methods. Now it appears that some various beetles are trying to have their way with the plants, but in my understanding, if the plants have developed the complex chemistry that we kow as medicinal properties, then the beetle won't be able to digest the plant matter. We shall see what we shall see.


Jedi Master
The unsupervised hugel-kultur garden turned into a jungle. The tulip trees grew from seeds to around 2 meters tall in one season. I have only 1/6th of the area dedicated to tomato plants this year and they grew like gangbusters. Somehow, Passiflora Incarnate (passion flower) plants' seeds find their way there and they entangled the tomatoes in a sign of sisterly love!


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