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Completing your raised bed

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Completing and customizing hügelcultur mounds is the final step before planting the upside-down “U” or “V” shaped raised beds. Make sure to water each layer before adding another. Once all the topsoil is in place, stone or log borders can be added to the mound. Pathways can be established between mounds. Mounds can be combined to form a variety of designs on a landscape. The options for customization are numerous.

If a stone or log border is desired, dig a narrow, shallow trench around the mound, and add the stones or logs. If the area where the mound is to be built already has a border, build the mound inside the boundaries of that border.

When the mound is complete and aesthetically pleasing, it’s time to plant flowers, fruits and vegetables according to the mound design plan. Some horticulturalists recommend letting the mound cure for a few months before planting, but others claim that’s not necessary. Experiment with both methods. After the planting is complete, lightly sprinkle the mound with water and add a thin layer of mulch.

The composting taking place inside the mound is adding nutrients to the soil in the mound. Air pockets between the pieces of wood are adding oxygen and self-tilling the mound as composting takes place. The large pieces of wood keep nutrients from escaping into ground water and regularly feed the plants. The soil in the mound becomes rich and full of soil life. Because so much water is held inside tall mounds, irrigation is unnecessary after the second year. Using well-rotted wood will solve the problem of wood, which is high in carbon, consuming all the nitrogen in the mound.

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