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Mound Gardening in the North

Updated on May 14, 2011

The problem with gardening in the North is the cold soil temperature. Years ago I read about a method used in Scandinavia which I believe is called mound gardening. I did this type of gardening for some years while we live in the Northwest United States and found it to be very simple and effective.

The method requires that you have some tree branches, trimmings work perfectly. I used poplar and wisteria but I am sure any deciduous branches would work. I am not sure about evergreens. You take your branches and lay them out lengthwise in a long mound over untilled soil. Then for the next year you add all of your compost material to the mound. The air flow through the branches keeps the compost from getting too hot so you don't need to turn it. Just keep adding all the garden and kitchen vegetable waste through the year. Don't forget the autumn leaves.

When spring time comes cover your composted mound with a four to six inch layer of good garden soil. The aerated compost underneath will continue to provide warmth throughout the growing season. Plant your crops as usual and enjoy the excellent results.

Each year you start a new mound trading locations as you go. You'll find that the soil underneath your two year old mound is beautifully enriched and friable so that is what you'll use to top your new mound. Use the remaining material from old mounds to improve your new mounds.

This turns out to be an easy and effective way to improve the soil in your garden while you are enjoying good crops. This method is easy to start and it just get easier. I found my soil so improved that after about ten years I stopped mounding my garden at all except for growing melons and tomatoes which require good warmth.

Additionally a plastic tent over a mound garden provides even more warmth for tomatoes and peppers. You could do your mounds in boxes but I never did. A box frame would make it easier to place flexible PVC for a tent frame however.


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    • AnnCee profile image

      AnnCee 5 years ago from United States

      The composting material works the same way and smells about as good! :-)

    • profile image

      Zanney 5 years ago

      horse manure was used in the past to heat seed beds under glass. was used fresh to generate heat.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I love gardening and have read about and tried all sorts of methods - but this is one I haven't heard of! Very interesting. Just wish I had more room so I could try it, haha!

    • AnnCee profile image

      AnnCee 6 years ago from United States

      Thanks for nice comments.

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 6 years ago from home


      i thought this was a really cool hub- ya learn something new each day


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Very interesting and most likely better than plain composting as you get faster results!

    • AnnCee profile image

      AnnCee 6 years ago from United States

      Another type of mound! This one from Papua, New Guinea.

      A bowl shaped hole is dug in the earth and fill it with a mound of dried long grass. This is covered with soil for growing sweet potatoes. The article is scholarly and a little complex but there are also good photos. I opened the quick view rather than downloading the PDF.

    • AnnCee profile image

      AnnCee 6 years ago from United States

      I found this article about a mounding technique called a lasagna garden. I'm sure this would work beautifully to warm a garden area as well.

      Instead of tree branches and compost, this method uses straw and manure.

    • Krysanthe profile image

      Kathy Hull 6 years ago from Bloomington, Illinois

      I had never heard of this type of gardening before either...what a great idea. I'd love to try it on a smaller scale, just as an easy "green" way to make compost and enrich the soil.

    • AnnCee profile image

      AnnCee 6 years ago from United States

      You can keep it in the same place but one of the benefits is the beautiful soil that results underneath your mound. I used three rows for my mounds. You have one mound preparing each year. Oh also easy to weed because soil doesn't get packed hard. This does result in a lot of material so you do need a larger yard to be able to use up all the material. That's why I ultimately just started gardening directly on the soil. You can do this on a very small scale just to try it. My beds were about 18 feet by 6 and grew a ton of produce. Use the last year's area for squash and pumpkin, they go crazy.

    • Terri Meredith profile image

      Terri Meredith 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I've never heard of this before either. Pretty cool idea. I've always had a small garden of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers until I moved to my present home. There's no yard available as I'm in an apartment building. I'll be passing this on to my mother, though. She always has something growing

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 6 years ago

      That's a method I've not heard of before. Not quite as labour saving as conventional deep beds but on balance, taking into account the composting element probably not much difference.

      I suppose in a limited space there is no reason why you should not keep building the beds in the same space.