This is our journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matthew 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: soil

Hugelkultur Garden Beds – Update I

One thing we have had to learn here is no matter how much we plan, things do not happen in the way or time frame we think they might. Other priorities, resources, etc. are factors that play into this, and so, we have had to learn to be patient, and to keep working toward the things we are trying to do here, as God would allow, and pray that He leads in them all (ie. that we don’t try to go down paths He doesn’t have for us). We pray for His leading in all areas of our lives, and for the patience to wait on Him, trusting in His love, goodness and wisdom, even if things never end up like we had originally hoped for or planned.

Back in 2013, we did a blog post about starting hugelkultur garden beds, where we explained that generally, this involves burying (below and/or above ground) tree materials, like stumps, trunks or even branches, under your garden soil, and apparently, as the tree material rots, it also becomes very absorbent, and is supposed to help with holding moisture in the garden bed. Back then, we only did one that was in a dug-out bed, but my plan always was to put another one next to it.

Well, back in January of 2018, we started revamping the original hugelkultur bed by adding more branches, and then started on the new one, which was planned to be above ground. My understanding has become that the buried ones are not as good because the water collects in the dug-out bed, and then just gets absorbed into the soil. But, we have it and so re-filled it with branches, and started the new bed with old logs and branches above ground, and Lord willing we’ll eventually see how each fares.

Here is the work from last year. After placing all the old wood, I was able to add on top a load of mulch from the local landfill, where they have a huge, huge pile of it that we can go get pretty inexpensively:

New Wood in Hugelkultur Bed
New Hugelkultur Bed
Wood in Hugelkultur Beds
Covering Hugelkultur Bed in Mulch
Hugelkultur Beds Partially Covered in Mulch

Well, fast forward to this year somewhat recently. I have finally made the time and been able to take the time to start making landfill trips more consistently, and covering the hugelkultur beds was first on the list. I think it took nearly two loads in the back of the truck, where I have a 4-foot high, OSB-walled mulch carrier, to cover it all.

This is how it looked before starting to cover this time:

Ready to Continue Covering Hugelkultur Beds in Mulch

And then after one load, I believe:

More Mulch on Hugelkultur Beds

And then covered in total:

Hugelkultur Beds Covered in Mulch

And now, we hope to be able to try them out next year, as God wills!

We thank the Lord for the resources to build these hugelkultur beds, the safety in all of the trips, and the physical strength to do all of the mulch unloading and spreading; and we pray He applies it to the ground so as to allow the growth of food at some point, if He might, again, in accordance with His will!

— David

Hugelkultur Garden Beds

One of the garden bed methodologies we’ve learned about is hugelkultur. Generally, this involves burying (below and/or above ground) tree materials, like stumps, trunks or even branches, under your garden soil. Apparently, as the tree material rots, it also becomes very absorbent, and is supposed to help with holding moisture in the garden bed. There is lots of information and videos about it on the Internet, but here is our first attempt at doing one of these. Since we’re observing a land sabbath and aren’t growing gardens or crops this year, I definitely wanted to start on these while I had extra time.

I decided to just locate the beds as an extension of our main garden area, and here is the first level dug out. I thought using the dug-out dirt as a berm around the bed would help even make it deeper:

First Dug Out Level of Hugelkultur Garden Bed

After the first digging, in looking at it, and I think even trying it out by putting a stump in place, it just wasn’t deep enough, so I dug out another round:

Second Dug Out Level of Hugelkultur Garden Bed

Then, it was time to gather the wood material. For this first bed, I thought I’d go with larger items, and so I went around trying to collect old stumps and similar things:

Hugelkultur Garden Bed First Wood Stumps in Place

And here is the bed full. It was like a puzzle trying to place the pieces to fit as tightly as possible:

Hugelkultur Garden Bed First Rest of the Wood in Place

The plan was to then cover the bed with mulch. I had originally wanted to fill the entire thing with sifted mulch, but realized that was going to take a lot of effort for probably not much gain, since I could fill the bed up leaving 8-10 inches at the top with the wood-chips mulch we get from the landfill, and then sift from there, which is what I did. This is the mulch in place:

Hugelkultur Garden Bed Wood Chips in Place

And then the sifting process. I used that long board across the bed for sliding the mulch sifter back and forth:

Sifting Mulch on Hugelkultur Garden Bed

And here it is complete!

Hugelkultur Garden Bed Complete

Lord willing, I hope to add another bed in front of this one.


We had recently discovered that the area all around our goat sheds, where we put the hay and goat “evacuations” cleaned out from the sheds, with rain water collecting there, and over time, was composting nicely into this fine, fluffy dirt. Some time ago, we were given a composting container; and so I figured, since this goat material seemed to compost well, it was time to get that process going; and here is the container set up, and then a look inside. The container has holes on the sides and the top and bottom pieces:

Compost Container
Composting Material in the Compost Container

We thank the Lord for granting us the opportunity to continue on the process out here of trying to grow our own food, and for hopefully new and beneficial ideas; and we thank Him for the physical strength and materials to do these things.

— David

Garden – Spring 2012 – Update I

After our garlic was harvested this year, I had planned to replant those beds with black-eyed peas we had harvested from Mr. Bunker’s field a couple of years ago, because late spring is about the time to start planting them, and they work well in the heat.

But, the garden beds needed to be prepared with some new soil. We’ve recently started using mulch for actual garden beds, but, even though the mulch we get has composted dirt in it, it also has too many larger wood chips; and so, other folks around here have been sifting their mulch to remove those larger chips; and I decided to follow suit.

Here is the mulch sifter I put together with scrap stuff I had laying around:

Mulch Sifter

And here I am doing the sifting:

Sifting Mulch

Here, you can see the results in the raised bed; and the left-over wood chips can be used for walkway covering:

Mulch Bed and Walkway Mulch After Sifting

And here are the black-eyed peas growing after being planted!

Sifted Mulch Bed Black-Eyed Peas Growing

So, going around the horn, here is how the garden now looks….

This is the okra:

2012 Okra

And the green beans (in the front bed) and the squash and zucchini (in the bed in back):

2012 Green Beans, Squash and Zucchini

And the tomatoes (in the front bed) and the carrots (in the bed in back). Usually, our carrots do really well; but for some reason this year, not too many grew. I did try planting a little scarcely, because usually the carrots are very packed and smaller; and I ended up trying to replant a couple of times too; but it just wasn’t to be this year:

2012 Tomatoes and Carrots

Now, in that previous blog post above about the new mulch gardening, one of the folks here had already tried planting in their mulch-gardening area with some success; so I thought I’d give it a whirl too, to see if anything might grow. I planted some more of the black-eyed peas in half a row as a test case, and lo and behold they started growing!

Mulch Gardening/Eden Black-Eyed Peas Growing

With those results, I went ahead and planted the whole area:

Entire Mulch Gardening/Eden Bed Planted with Black-Eyed Peas

And here, if you look closely (you probably have to click the image), many of them have started to grow too:

Black-Eyed Peas Growing in Mulch Gardening/Eden Bed

Here is some of the produce the Lord has graciously granted:

Squash and Zucchini from the Garden

Instead of pressure canning it, we’ve wanted to try to use the more healthy preservation method of lacto-fermentation. Here is some squash and zucchini in a brine solution, with some mesquite tree leaves that are supposed to help keep the vegetables crunchier:

Lacto-Fermenting Squash and Zucchini

And here is our lacto-fermenting section in the camper. We initially put the jars down in the root cellar, but the lacto-fermenting process actually needs a warmer environment to process correctly. Also, the vegetables would float in the brine. And so, we figure with the combination of the cooler temperatures of the root cellar, and the floating vegetables, they started to mold on top. Well, we picked off the moldy pieces from off the top, brought them into our very warm camper, tried weighing the vegetables down but didn’t find a good way to do that, and instead began to turn the jars upside down and then back right side up every 12 hours, burping them at the same time (to release the gas build-up from the lacto-fermenting process):

Lacto-Fermenting Garden Produce

Once again, we are very thankful to God for the provisions from the garden He has granted, and for the processes He built into His creation to preserve the produce without man-made methods of preservation (like canning, which destroys nutrients, or freezing, which causes dependence on the world for electricity and freezers).

— David

Not Too Mulch of a Good Thing

Recently, someone in the group here came across a video about how a fellow in Washington state had an interesting idea about how to keep moisture in the soil and keep it well-composted for gardens, orchards, etc. He was in the forest and thought about how the trees never need to be watered, but seem to have no problem being maintained by just rain alone. He looked down and noticed the ground covering of leaves, twigs, branches, etc. and reached down below that layer into the soil, only to discover how moist and fertile-looking the soil was. The lights went on and he thought that if he could replicate this for his gardens, his gardens would do very well.

The main theory behind it is that the soil needs to be covered by something that composts, and he thought about it and decided to use wood chips (ie. mulch). Well, his video is a documentary about the success of that experiment, and is called “Back to Eden.” On that website, you can order the DVD or just watch the video for free. It’s quite interesting, although we don’t subscribe much to some of the gentleman’s spiritual beliefs and concepts.

However, this seemed like a great idea; and so, everyone around here is beginning the implementation of this. We’ve looked into trying to get local tree trimming services to drop their chipped wood on the land; but until that is available, the Brownwood land fill allows people to drop their branches and trimmings there, and they chip it into mulch. They have huge, huge mounds of the stuff; and so it’s just a matter of transporting it to the property since they won’t deliver it outside their county.

For Sue & I, we have half a garden that, although planned for, has never been turned into garden
beds; and so, I thought that would be a good starting place for our mulching.

Here is that half of our current garden before the mulching:

Garden 1 Before Mulching

And here’s the first mulch load:

Garden 1 with a Pile of Mulch

I don’t have a flatbed trailer, and have just been using the truck to get the mulch:

Mulch in the Bed of the Truck

As you can see though, there isn’t much back there; and getting the mulch we need would have taken a long time that way. Plus, the cost per load is the same regardless of how many scoops of mulch you can fit in the bed. So, I built a mulch carrier to fit in the bed, which has doubled the amount of mulch we can bring back in a load:

Mulch Truck Bed Carrier

If the mulch ever needs to be covered with a tarp or otherwise, I added some screws to which to be able to attach bungee cords:

Mulch Truck Bed Carrier Tarp Hooks

Here I am throwing the mulch from the bed into the garden. That pitch-fork works great!

Pitching Mulch from the Truck Bed

And here is William, our cat, supervising once again:

William the Cat Supervising the Mulching Process

Here is our current garden complete:

Garden 1 Mulch Covering Complete

And here is the result of the dirt shower you get when you pitch mulch on a breezy day:

Taking a Mulch Dirt Shower

My plan all along has been to have another garden across the way from our current garden, and so I figured it was time to get that going, since we had a quicker way to implement the garden preparation other than digging double dug beds and building raised beds. And so, here is the first pile of mulch for garden #2:

First Pile of Mulch for Garden 2
First Pile of Mulch for Garden 2 Facing Garden 1

After getting a few mulch piles, I began building the garden fencing:

Starting Garden 2 Fence Posts

Here are all of the fence posts in place:

Garden 2 Fence Posts in Place

And here is the fencing up. I just used 2″x4″ welded wire pulled hand tight:

Garden 2 Fencing Up

And since we have had problems with rabbits getting between the 2″x4″ fence squares, I added chicken wire all the way around:

Garden 2 Fencing with Chicken Wire

And this is where it stands today, almost completely mulched:

Garden 2 Almost Mulched

As I mentioned at the beginning, the mulch idea could be applied to orchards; and so, I began the process of mulching our current trees. Here are the piles around some of the trees:

Mulch Piles in the Orchard

And then them spread around the trees:

Mulch Spread Around Orchard Trees

And here is where it stands today, after replacing many of the dead trees from last year’s drought or other years with new ones, and after adding new trees. The idea is to eventually fill-in the entire area with mulch and turn it into another area that can be planted, perhaps with root crops like turnips and/or sweet potatoes:

Mulch in Orchard North View
Mulch in Orchard East View
Mulch in Orchard South East View

We’re thankful to God for this soil-covering idea and for the resources and provisions to hopefully, by His graces and mercies, greatly increase the means of provision available on the land so that we may become less and less dependent on the world and more and more under the direct providence of the Lord.

— David