What To Plant In A Hügelkultur Bed

Planting a hügelkultur bed can sound like a complicated thing, but with the correct knowledge, it can be pretty simple.

In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to succeed at this task.

What Is A Hügelkultur Bed

Hügelkultur (hoogle-culture) is simply the process of filling a raised garden bed with decaying wood. This results in raised garden beds that are rich in organic matter, nutrients, and air pockets for the roots of the plants, among other things.

The deep soil of your raised garden bed becomes extraordinarily rich and teeming with soil life as the year’s pass. As the wood shrinks, more microscopic air pockets form, allowing your hügelkultur to self-till.

The composting process will gently warm your soil in the first few years, providing you with a little longer growing season. The woody matter prevents extra nutrients from entering the groundwater and then being re-fed to your garden plants later.

Hugelkultur might also be part of a strategy for cultivating garden crops in the desert without irrigation because it holds so much water.

Benefits Of A Hügelkultur Bed

A hügelkultur bed’s base is made from free and recycled materials that might otherwise end up in landfills or burn piles. Worms, fungus, beneficial bacteria, and microorganisms work for up to 20 years as the wood decomposes to make and release nutrients to plant roots, depending on the type and density of the wood.

Hügelkultur is a type of soil management that naturally sequesters carbon. The decomposition of wood provides heat, which helps to extend the season.

In the spring, Hügel beds warm up faster, allowing for early planting.

Because of their three-dimensional nature, traditional hügel beds provide greater total planting space and need less space in the garden because fewer garden paths are required.

Tall hügel beds are easy to maintain while standing, making them an excellent choice for anyone with restricted mobility.

The rotten wood functions as a sponge and the mulch layer on top prevents evaporation, so there is little need to water it.

How To Build A Hügelkultur Bed

Hügel beds can be constructed in any length, width, or height. It will depend on the space you have available. Although, Hügelkultur beds usually range from three to five feet in height and can be rectangular, square, circular, or horseshoe-shaped (keyhole).

Beds are usually constructed on top of the ground or in 12- to 15-inch-deep holes. They are usually free-standing, with no physical support or enclosure, but they can be built at the base with blocks, untreated lumber, logs, or hay bales.

The perfect woody foundation is a mixture of freshly dead or rotting firewood rounds, stumps, branches, brush, and twigs. Avoid wood from allelopathic trees like black walnut (due to juglone toxicity), as well as high-resin trees like pine, spruce, yew, juniper, and cedar, and hard, rot-resistant woods like black locust, Osage orange, and redwood.

Any wood that can sprout (such as willow) should be entirely dead before being used. Before construction is complete, small branches, twigs, sawdust, and coarse woodchips should be used to fill cavities on the woody basis, as well as periodically when the bed breaks down.

A simple hügel is covered with three to five inches of rotten manure or compost, followed by another three to five inches of garden soil or topsoil. However, a “lasagna-style” garden bed can incorporate many layers of diverse organic materials. Hügel beds are ready to plant right after they’re built.

What To Plant In A Hügelkultur Bed

So, you’ve finished constructing your new hügelkultur bed and are ready to begin planting, but you have no idea what to plant or where to begin deciding which plants to grow. You have a wide variety of plants to pick from.

To begin, determine how long you want your plants to stay in the hügelkultur. Do you simply want plants to last a year so you may replace them with something fresh the following year? Or do you want plants that will grow in your hügelkultur for a long time without needing to be replanted? We’ll go through everything in detail below to assist you in making your decision.

Annual Plant For Hügelkultur Beds

Annual plants are those that will only live for one year. Annual plants will sprout, bloom, and die throughout the course of a calendar year. Although this is not necessarily a calendar year, the plant will not live for more than a year.

Some annual plants you could plant in your newly made hügelkultur bed are angelonia, begonia, vinca, cosmos, peas, corn, and watermelon.

Perennials Plants For Hügelkultur Beds

Perennial plants, on the other hand, will endure the longest in your hügelkultur beds, as they will thrive for more than two years if properly cared for.

Most plants on the planet, including trees, are perennials by definition, but you can’t plant trees in your hügelkultur, but here are some perennial plant examples you can use: Basil, Lavender, Mint, Chives, Sage, Rosemary, Spinach, Asparagus, Artichoke, Fennel, African Daisy, Aster and Day Lily.

Alluim Plants For Hügelkultur Beds

Some plants are easier to maintain in a hügelkultur bed than others; this is where the Allium plant family comes in. These plants are quite easy to grow in hügelkultur beds, and they don’t require much maintenance on your part to stay happy and healthy.

Planting Allium plants in your hügelkultur bed will not only give you delicious components for your recipes, but they will also safeguard the other plants in the hügelkultur bed.

Each Allium plant provides defense against several pests that may attack your hügelkultur plants. Onions, for example, are an excellent plant to produce because they can be used in a variety of meals while also repelling small white butterflies, cabbage looper, and rabbits. So, if any of these are causing you problems, simply plant some onions.

Other Plants That Do Well In Hugelkultur Beds

Here’s a list of more plants that will perform well in a hügelkultur; just be careful about which plants you put together because some won’t grow well if they’re too close. So, before you plant these plants in the same hügelkultur bed, be sure they’re compatible.

  • Peppers
  • Soybeans
  • Sea Buckthorn
  • Sweet Fern
  • Northern Bayberry
  • Lentils
  • Velvet Bean
  • Borage
  • Clover
  • Autumn Olive
  • Alfalfa
  • Coriander
  • Salsify
  • Russian Silverberry
  • Milk Thistles
  • Marrows

Root Vegetables And Hugelkultur Beds

So, hügelkultur beds are fantastic for above-ground plants and veggies, but what about underground plants and vegetables? Planting root vegetables in a hügelkultur bed is not a smart idea, at least not for the first few seasons.

Unless, of course, you don’t mind missing out on a root vegetable harvest because the majority of the root vegetables will get stuck inside the hügelkultur bed’s branches. If you want a good yield of root vegetables, though, you should plant them elsewhere in your garden.

Instead of providing a harvest, some root vegetables may provide a different function to your hügelkultur bed. A potato plant, for example, will provide shade to other plants in your hügelkultur bed while also helping to improve the soil. If you need to factor this in, you can plant root vegetables in your hügelkultur bed.

What Not To Grow In A Hügelkultur Beds

Are there any plants ad vegetables that you should not plant in your hügelkultur bed?  Yes, there are a few plants that do not thrive in hügelkultur gardens. The majority of these species will deplete the nitrogen in the hügelkultur bed, rendering it uninhabitable for other plants.

Here’s a list of plants to avoid planting in your hügelkultur bed:

  • Strawberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Rye
  • Woad
  • Wormwood
  • Rapeseed
  • Currents
  • Tobacco
  • Oats
  • Mustards
  • Sorghum

Final Thoughts

Although making a hülgelkultur bed can be a lot of work, as time goes on, it will become more productive, and the amount of work you have to do each year will decrease.

Hügelkultur beds are fantastic to have in your home since they allow you to grow so many different plants in them. The ones listed above are the easiest to maintain, but there are a plethora of other plants that thrive in a hügelkultur beds.