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.
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.