I had the opportunity to work on a Hugelkultur project at the Queens Botanical Garden this past season.
Hugelkultur is a German word for a process of Permaculture where one uses organic matter including: tree branches, tree limbs, soil and grass clippings, to build a huge bed. Instead of putting the debris in the compost bin and/or in lawn and leaf bags to be picked up by Sanitation, it gets incorporated into the land and made into a mound. The bed can then be planted on and plants and/or crops are then encouraged to grow in the mound.
The project included building a mound of tree branches, tree limbs and stumps and other discarded organic matter from the grounds to build up a mound. The mound was then tamped down by hand and by using a vehicle to drive over it, it ultimately the pile sunk down considerably over the course of seven weeks. The before and after pictures show the beginning of the project in October and the end of the project in the end of November.
I was introduced to this project which was created by Denise Negrillo, an Urban Farmer and Gardener who works in the New York Metropolitan area. It really is a great way to use Permaculture to reduce waste and get a garden to grow in an otherwise useless area or an underutilized area of land.