The garden beds are being laid out on the contours this year to try and capture the rain runoff. We also trench each bed so we can bury logs and sticks at the bottom. As the wood decomposes, it releases nutrients but it also absorbs water which is then available for the plant roots. Well that is the theory. Of course we use lots of compost in there too.
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One of the driving principles of permaculture is the capture and storage of runoff. Slow, Spread and Sink. By building beds level on contours, water is not allowed to just run down the path of least resistance ending up pooling where there is already too much or just running down the street. Holding the water behind swales allows it to spread across the garden and sink into the ground. These garden beds use the principles of Hugelkultur developed by Sepp Holzer in Austria. We trench the beds and take waste sticks and logs and bury them at the bottom with lots of compost from the cattle, pigs and chicken. As the woody material slowly decomposes it not only provides nutrients to the plants above but also stores water. The beds will be planted not only with food plants but also with herbs that extract and hold mineral nutrients like comfrey and herbs that attract beneficial insects. By balancing the pest and predatory insects damage can be kept to a minimum.