Hugelkultur In The Forest

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.  ~ John Muir

Dear Readers,

When we were in Oregon in October 2014, I was fascinated by how hugelkultur occurs spontaneously in nature!  The gallery below has a bunch of photos I took from several different hikes, all in the beautiful Cascade Range along the western flank of Mount Hood (11,249 feet high.)

Before we went on our vacation to Oregon, we’d been experimenting with the concept of hugelkultur, which basically relies on a compost-in-place system of logs, sticks, and compost in the lower layer of a garden bed to fuel the new growth on top. You can read more about our hugelkultur beds and the history behind them here.  

Hiking around under the lofty canopy of predominantly Douglas-firs and Hemlocks out in the gorgeous Cascade Range, we were stuck by the fact that nature had come up with the system long, long before we had (and here we thought we were so smart!)  As old trees fall, new plants and even new trees find their way into homes at the top of the decomposing log or the stump/roots it leaves behind.  The astonishing thing about nature is that it never wastes anything—everything has its uses and purposes, even after it dies.  Many, many ecological lessons to be drawn from this!  It just takes some time for that fallen log to turn itself into a handy garden bed for a wide variety of other forest plants.

Time—isn’t that what we all need more of, and fast?  The forest floor seemed in no hurry.  Douglas-firs in particular have been known to live for several hundred years, and continue to live on through their purpose as a garden bed to the next generation.  The quiet was so absolute that you could almost hear the plants growing, the ferns unfurling, the lichen spreading lacy wings on the bark of the firs.  A couple of hikes we took in the steady rain (it was Oregon, after all), and the raindrops filtered down to us through the cathedral ceiling of the forest, arched a hundred feet high. 

I was extremely reluctant to leave the peace, sanctuary and verdant-green of the beautiful old-growth forests of Oregon.   Time seemed to stand still in there, unhurried, unaware of the frantic pace of the modern world.

 Yours Truly,

 Sarah

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