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Garden grows by leaps and bounds

A gardener since 1978, Gibson EMC consumer-member Charles Berryhill uses a type of gardening called hügelkultur—a German word—in which a garden bed is mounded and contains old logs, limbs, compost or manure arranged in layers that can become as tall as 6 feet. 

As the materials within the mound deteriorate over time, it becomes ideal for holding moisture and providing nourishment for plants. 

Conducting seminars and workshops on organic gardening practices in Tennessee and Kentucky, Berryhill, a Clinton resident and retiree, is a cheerleader for the pile method of composting. He loves it when grass, leaves, worms, kitchen scraps and more age into a natural, nutrient-rich mix for his gardens. 

“Compost everything you can,” he says. “Do not throw kitchen scraps in the trash and send them to the landfill; find a way to compost them.” 

His hügelkultur beds are on a hillside. On the lower side of the beds, he’s cut saplings 3 to 6 inches in diameter so the soil won’t wash downhill. He does very little supplemental watering because all of the compost he uses keeps the soil moist and fed, and when the soil is happy, the plants are happy. 

“I look at everything as soil,” he says. “Whether you’re religious or not, or a scientist, everything that’s ever been alive has been in soil in some way.” 

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