Saturday, 1 February 2014

tyre sand-pit to hugelkultur / mound garden

Deciding what to do with my tractor tyre sandpit today, my friend Ryan came up with the idea of using the tyre as a mound garden for growing squashes, courgettes or asparagus.  

Ryan got the idea from the book "Forest Gardening" by Robert A de J Hart and "The Permaculture Garden" by Graham Bell. Having made that decision we got on with it whilst also clearing the bottom of the garden which is covered in wood for the stove which needs sorting and chopping.

The great thing about this idea was that we could use the trimmings from pruning the massively overgrown hedge as part of this plan as well as some of the sand from the sandpit; some of the rotten logs and kindling from the log-pile and some of the apple tree prunings.  

We could also start emptying our compost bins and use that. So as not to have to totally empty the sandpit we decided to do the conversion in 3 stages. 

The idea of mound gardens originated in China and is used a lot in Germany hence the name 'Hugelkultur' or German Mound   We started by clearing some of the sand to make a trench about one-foot deep.  This spare sand will be mixed with compost in containers and used for growing carrots and other veg.

We then piled up woody material such as small branches, hedge cuttings and apple tree prunings.  This makes a porous core which enables air and water to circulate freely.  
We used rotten logs from the log-pile that were not going to burn well, followed by smaller twigs and then the fresh hedge trimmings.

We covered the hedge trimmings with compost from the compost bins and started the middle section.
Having discovered a big bag of well-rotted chicken poo we decided that could be used as well. So the first two sections got a good dose of chicken manure on top of the hedge trimmings.

This isn't the conventional way that a German Mound is made but in true permaculture-style we used what was easily available at the time.  The worms seemed happy enough!!

We then moved all the sand left in the sandpit on top of the first two sections and started phase three.  Again rotten wood and apple tree prunings made the base.  Followed by hedge trimmings straight from the hedge.

Then compost bin compost and sand to cover the whole lot.  At this point it just looks like the sand-pit we started with earlier in the day until we finished it off with some bagged compost we had lying around in the garden.

Now I just need to get some squashes, courgettes and maybe asparagus seedlings growing so I can transplant them and see what happens.  

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