Bay Branch Farm

a vegetable farm in lakewood and cleveland, oh | we grow food

Hugelkultur and 3 Sisters

6 Comments

A couple years ago we put a hugelkultur bed in our backyard and last year we added another one. Hugelkultur is a raised bed made of wooden branches, logs, rotted wood, grass clippings, leaves and other natural debris. We covered ours with soil and planted right in it. So far so good! We usually plant squash in these beds since they are big and have ample room for running plants. Hugelkultur beds retain water well due to the makeup of the beds and they have a lot of nutrients within the decaying materials.

IMG_20160715_072408

Two hugel beds full of squash and pumpkins. Wood chip mulch is around the base of the beds to keep weeds down.

IMG_20160714_204107

Close up of the pumpkin patch.

IMG_20160714_204124

Squash bed.

Another permaculture technique we tried this year is to plant an area with the three sisters – corn, beans and squash. This is a Native American agricultural practice of interplanting crops that support each other. The beans fix nitrogen, the corn gives the beans something to climb, and the squash provides ground cover for weeds and keeps pests off the corn. We are growing Kentucky Wonder pole beans, a variety of squash, and Oaxacan green corn. It’s the first time we’ve grown corn. Some of it has grown quite well, though the outside bed has been a bit stunted.

Corn on the stalk

Corn on the stalk

 

This photo shows the full planting. The corn on the edge is stunted.

This photo shows the full planting. The corn on the outside is stunted.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Hugelkultur and 3 Sisters

  1. Great to see your pumpkin patch…. Doing much better than mine, though I think it has more to do with the weather than the hugel bed!

    • Thanks, Helen! It’s been hot and dry, so I hope the pumpkins and squash survive. Gotta go water (again!) soon. Good luck with your growing season!

  2. Awesome to see some pictures of these techniques in action! I was wondering if the three sisters patch is next to a path of some sort where there could be soil compaction, that could be what’s causing the outside plants to be stunted.

    • That’s a definite possibility as the edge is up against soil that is compacted. The rest of the bed is thriving, however. Super excited to harvest this fall.

      • Yes the overall plot looks beautiful! Some soil compaction around the farm is of course inevitable. I wonder if it would help at all to plant a buffer zone with something that has deep roots that can penetrate that compacted zone. Doesn’t seem like it’s anything to worry about though in any case. Best of luck with the harvest 🙂

    • Thanks so much and congrats on your farm purchase and soon-to-be country life! Just started following your blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s