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Experimenting with Sepp Holzen’s Hugelkultur Raised Bed and Swale

April 26, 2013

In March 2013, I took the 72 hour Permaculture Design Certification class offered through the Sustainability Institute at George Mason University, in Fairfax Virginia.  The course was taught by Wayne Weiseman and it was an exceptional experience, an outstanding experienced instructor, and a fabulous group of people.

Immediately after the course was over, I wanted to experiment with some of the practices I had learned and decided to create a vegetable raised bed in my garden following the hugelkultur method, which has been created and practised for over 4o years by Seff Holzen, in Austria.

Adopting this method, one creates a swale (ditch) en contour, following the natural slope of the land and a berm next to the swale which has logs at the bottom and is covered with manure and soil. This becomes the raised bed into which one plants the vegetables.

I went about this on my own, and was very curious to see whether my hugelkultur raised bed would work as I had wished.

One month has gone by and I can now share the photos of the hugelkultur bed and the vegetables I planted in it one month ago and which have grown in an exceptional manner.

Following are some pictures I took while I was constructing the raised bed :

Placing the logs along the swale edge


Covering  logs with manure and soil  and compacting well with my hands as to avoid a landslide





I covered the raised bed with mulch


One month later……………….. fantastic vegetables

Rosanna's Hugelkultur  April 2013

One spinach plant in my hugelkultur raised bed on April 25, 2013

spinach after four weeks in hugelkultur raised bed

April 25, 2013, below is a spinach plant I planted in the same original size as the one above, but into regular flat soil.

spinach 4 weeks after planting in regular soil

Of course, as the swale along the raised bed  collects the rain water, it can be rather muddy after a nice rain.

Our friend’s wonderful golden retriever,   Cameron,  was playing in the garden one day and  I got distracted and forgot the swale was muddy!!!!!!!!!!

Cameron has just found another use for the swale…………………………….

cameron loved the swale!


From → Posts on the USA

  1. riccardo permalink

    I miei complimenti cara Rosanna io incomincio la prossima settimana a fare il corso qui a Palermo da Simona e Danilo…spero sia stata una bella esperienza e che lo sarà pure per me.Un forte abbraccio fatti sentire se vieni in Sicilia…ciaooo


    • Ciao Riccardo,

      Grazie e son certa che sara’ um’esperienza eccezionale. Vi e’ tanto da imparare ma la parte piu’ divertente e’ cimentarsi e sperimentare………….

      Saluti a te, Simona e Danilo,



  2. I was fortunate to see this myself and the spinach was beautiful! I wish I could have stayed long enough to have enjoyed it after it was prepared so perfectly by you!


  3. pamela permalink

    I live vicariously and while I didn’t get to see th spinach in person, I loved and appreciated the picture! Rosanna, are you on your way back home to Italy?
    Always, pamela


    • Pamela,

      Thank You! I must say that is the crunchiest spinach I have ever eaten and others will enjoy it while I am away. Yes, I am heading back to Sicily.


  4. pamela permalink

    I, like many others, are looking forward to new posts from Sicily! Hope your arrival home is a safe and happy one. Home Sweet Home!
    Keep writing…


  5. Thank you, Pamela. I have arrived safely in Sicily and plan to write soon…….


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