Rebuild after storm damage using hugelkultur

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The storms the region has seen these past few weeks are leaving many trees uprooted and flower beds destroyed.

Before you trash those trees, there's a type of gardening that uses your trunks to rebuild your garden, called hugelkultur. A garden that will survive a North Dakota winter, and even the longest of droughts

Hugelkultur translates to mound culture in German.

It combines the benefits of an active compost pile with a raised bed, and it requires little to no watering and weeding.

"Layering bulky, carbon-rich material, like wood or straw, with nutrient rich materia,l like compost or manure, and then that kind of sits in a growing bed and you're combining the benefits of an active compost pile with a raised bed," said Derek Lowstuter, forest stewardship manager.

The trees can absorb water through several seasons.

"Even in drought conditions, enough water is stored in the organic matter, especially in the bulky carbon rich material, that you don't need to water the bed," said Lowstuter.

Lowstuter says with how much rainfall we've seen, and with all of the carbon-rich material available, now is the best time to start a hugelkultur growing bed.

"A lot of trees that are prone to storm damage are excellent for hugelkultur beds. So things like cottonwood or boxelder, they break down fairly quickly. It's a softer wood so you can see the results fairly quickly," said Lowstuter.

Woods like oak or ash break down slower and last longer, but don't bring as many benefits.

Lowstuter says plants that like a lot of water, sun and heat, like melons or squash, thrive in hugelkultur beds.