It’s a funny word – I like to say it. Hoo-Gull-culture. And I love the concept even more. Hugelculture is the concept of using wood, particularly decaying wood, in the garden to boost productivity and reduce the need for irrigation. Well, here on Stonycroft the one thing we have lots of is rotting wood (and rocks, of course). I have a couple of stacks of rotting firewood at my easy disposal, and much more down in the woods if I had mechanical help getting it up here. I decided to try it on a small scale first, though, with two container gardens. I’d bought two “muck buckets” intended for children to keep toys in. They are about 3 feet tall and the same diameter. I picked out bright colors, to add a playful accent to the farmstand parking lot where I placed them. I had originally planned to drill holes in the bottom and fill them about half way with styrofoam peanuts, then with ProMix and compost, but couldn’t find peanuts, so I had the brilliant idea of the wood. I also opted not to drill holes in the bottom of them. I thought if the wood is to act as a sponge, they won’t need drainage. The roots of the plants will probably not go all the way to the bottoms of these tall planters. The wood I used is, I believe, apple wood that was stacked years ago next to the garage and never used. At this point it is spongy, some of it was coming apart in my hands as I moved it. And yes, it was wet. So an auspicious beginning for my low-irrgation planters. I planted one with annual flowers, and the other with herbs and edible flowers. I did water once so far, as the surface layer looked dry, and they will not have developed deep root systems yet. You can find out even more about it at Paul Wheaton’s site ( He has as much fun with the word as I do. The concept seems to have originated with Sepp Holzer, a very interesting fellow who deserves a post all his own, some other day.


One of the planters half full of rotted wood.


Tagetes marigolds, lavender, basil and nasturtiums.


Fully planted and ready to grow.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathleen
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 18:05:05

    I just built a hugulculture bed, too, a little bigger than your containers! Used some wood scraps we had laying around to fill the new flower bed up about half way, then added dirt/potting soil/peat on top of that. Actually has as many berry plants in it as flowers, but we’ll see how long those survive our munchy deer.


  2. Dad
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 07:15:11

    mushrooms ?


  3. Trackback: Excited about Rotten Wood | Soaring Eagle Homestead

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