Good Gardener/Bad Gardener
I have just been doing a little reading (and I mean, very little) on "hugelkultur." But, I was immediately reminded of a gardening friend.
I guess I should say simply, friend. For the last several years, I don't believe he has gardened. He may still have his raised beds outside the backdoor but the last time I ventured into his backyard, he seemed very embarrassed by what was growing there - not a heck of a lot more than volunteer larkspur, as best I could tell. He had transplanted it literally EVERYWHERE but I don't think that he had really intended a mono-culture of larkspur and it didn't seem to be working out all that well for him, either.
I don't mean to start off by suggesting that this fellow is a lazy gardener. No, I have compelling evidence beyond his enthusiasm for larkspur, that he is not a lazy person. In his life, he seems capable of building something from nothing - actually, he does this in his gardening and then moves on. Perhaps, the challenge goes out of it for him.
You see, a good number of years ago now, we were neighbors at a community garden and I was able to see first hand what this gardener was capable of.
He may have known something about this hugelkultur back then. And, I don't mean to put this down because it may very well be an appropriate technique for gardening. But, he set out - in the middle of what had to be the largest community garden plot just about anywhere, to dig 2 enormous trenches. When I saw his undertaking, I immediately became concerned that he wouldn't be able to finish in the time we had to get our soil cultivated and ready for planting - certainly, he wouldn't be able to work thru his entire plot that way.
I am sorry to say that this concern proved out - he did have some wonderful squash plants and lots of green beans on those 2 super-sized beds.
He was back the next year but didn't put in any more beds and seemed to have real trouble finding time for irrigation. The 3rd year, he gave up his plot and I learned, had moved on to have a garden using the same approach at his son's home.
I talked a little with his daughter-in-law about what he was up to on her small farm. Once again, he had begun by moving an enormous amount of soil! This time, he planted blackberries - in quantity!
I wasn't really skeptical about him being successful because things did turn out in his one good year as my neighbor. Sure enuf, after a couple of years - he was overwhelmed by an enormous amount of berries of enormous size! They were beautiful!
That was it . . . His DIL told me that the vines became an incredible jungle and he had never found use for all the fruit that 1st productive year. I'd be afraid to ask now what has become of his berry patch. He still seems to have a good relationship with his son & DIL but his gardening enterprise there ended quickly.
Do you know people like this? He is a real nice person, interesting and enthusiastic but . . .
I'd really like to stay firmly on one side of the Good Gardener/Bad Gardener spectrum so I don't intend to be practicing hugelkultur anytime soon. There's a nagging fear that it wouldn't work well for me either.