If you are feeling like a wild and crazy
idea like hugelkultur fits your lifestyle, I
have included some tips and resources
we used to create our 23 x 4-foot hugel-hill—on a budget.
1. Overall planning. Look at the
resources you have around you that
may make this project inexpensive.
Using resources in season may take
longer, but would be far more cost
efficient and ecologically beneficial to
your hill culture. Examples:
• Start as large a composting pile or
vermiculture project as you can in
the spring and it will be ready to
top your hill by summer’s end.
• Use straw bales and corn stalks
from your neighbor’s fall decorations.
• Plan on using wood when your
neighbors begin seasonally trimming trees or Douglas Fir Christmas Trees post-holiday.
• Inoculate with mushroom plugs
and let the rain soak your wood.
• Be creative, and this could become
a fairly inexpensive endeavor with
2. Plan your space. We chose an area
that served a purpose as a fence
between family space and garden and
would offer full sun to the crops we
planned to grow. We mapped out this
area and dug down 8-10 inches so we
could save the topsoil for later. And
we added another 3 feet in height
with a combination of our fence and
straw bales, back-filling with mush-room-inoculated logs, tree limbs, and
3. Think water. We added vermiculite
to the top soil to help retain water
and an irrigation system to help water
seedlings until roots were established,
and to offset blistering summer
conditions. When we plant, we create
mini-berms to prevent runoff.
• Other ideas for drought or hot
regions can be burying homemade
olla2 pots between plants.
4. Build up and maintain soil biodiversity. I use a simple spray-on
combination to encourage mycorrhi-zal fungi, add microbial organisms,
gently fertilize, and suppress pests.
Liquid seaweed, molasses, SCD
Probiotics BioAg3, nematodes, and
diatomaceous earth are added. I only
use neem oil to repel pests as needed.
• It is important to note that none of
these should be sprayed on flowers in
bloom as this will significantly interrupt pollination.
5. Plant selection. Because we created
such nutrient-dense soil and straw
bales with readily available water and
sun, we were able to use square-foot
garden and companion planting techniques to optimize our space. Look
into these concepts to see how much
food can be grown in small areas.
• It is important that flowers are part
of your plant selection. You will
want to encourage pollinating insects by offering bright continuous
flowers, especially during the time
your crop is ready to bloom.
• These flowers can also be a way to
draw pests away from your desired
Sarah Carson has been an active community organizer for more than ten years, and
she has always encouraged healthy living
in all its dimensions. She enjoys motivating through inspiration and encourages
resourcefulness in young people and families
on a budget. Sarah is the owner of a local,
online organic marketplace called New Mettle Farms, which is focused on offering fam-ily-centered education, events, and resources
that introduce alternative healthful living
opportunities and recaptures the benefits of
Permaculture Magazine’s “Many
Benefits of Hugelkultur”:
Smiling Gardening’s “Organic New
Methods for Growing Tastier,
More Nutritious Food,” by Phil
Square Foot Gardening
1. Fungi Perfecti’s Plug Spawn: Mushroom and Plug Spawn for Log and
2. Permaculture Research Institute’s
Olla: Unglazed Clay Pots for Garden
3. SCD Probiotics BioAg’s Five Advantages of SCD Probiotics Technology: