We are practicing Hugelkultur — we are hugerkulturists. Our garden is hugelkultural. Actually I don’t know much about it, it’s Sarah’s doing. Hugelkultur is a kind of ‘permaculture’ (‘agro-ecological design theory’) that is basically all about using wood as compost. So, as I quipped, someday our descendents will enjoy rich, fertile soil. No, apparently it can work relatively quickly.

Sarah’s explanation: “you make a pile of sticks and dump dirt on top of it, and plant on that. The twigs rot and release nutrients. Also, the area with the twigs acts as a big sponge.” Our whole back yard can become somewhat sponge-like (see previous post about the flood) so moisture-management is important.

You can also see that we made a stone barrier for our vegetable garden — these were stones we found buried in the ground, presumably left over from some older garden. This is where I came in, doing some garden-golem labor. The beans have started to come up.

One effect of our hugelkultural mindset: Sarah now is always looking for promising sticks to steal from peoples’ front yards. She’s previously done this with bags of leaves — in our old neighborhood she used to drive around filling the van with peoples’ bags of yard waste to use as compost. But now sticks too have emerged as valuable garden fodder. Hugelkultur is, according to Wikipedia, also called ‘Magic’ Mound Composting.

That’s Iris with a wiffle-ball bat in the hugelkultur area. Celie took the middle photo.

Cleaning gutters

We cleaned our gutters for the first time ever. We never did it in the house we lived in from 2001-2007, and I’m a bit unclear on whether there was some reason we didn’t have to. We’ve been here for almost a year, since June, and had never done it here either. The gutters were packed full with thick, sludgy, stinky composty leaves. You had to dig in and pull the gunk out by the handful. How many of our family does it take to clean the gutters? Four: one to climb the ladder and pull out the leaves, one to hold the ladder and lift up the bucket, and two four-year-olds on Bucket Brigade to run the bucket to one of our several garden-waste enclosures around the yard. The Bucket Brigade was initially enthusiastic, then Iris’s interest flagged (she started delegating to Celie more than working), and Celie’s soon after.

Sarah climbed on the roof but it was too scary to get onto the top level. She wants to ask Jack to install a little handle thing to facilitate safe climbing onto the top.

It rained all the next day and it was satisfying to hear the exotic sound of water flowing down the gutters.