Core Gardening

My sister,who lives near Myrtle Beach,SC,just had some raised beds made to grow vegetables and herbs.She brought up the term core gardening,which was new to me.
After checking online,it looks like a form of hugelkultur,but using softer materials,like straw and leaves,in place of wood.
I suggested using something like a 5-1-1 mix.Has anyone tried the core method?It looks very successful.Here’s a video.

My sister’s raised beds.


The very best garden I ever grew was over 20 years ago…took a spot of grassy/hayfied near house and sprayed it with ROUNDUP.

Planted seeds and had a simply wonderful no-till garden. (Only the tomato plants didn’t like this and many I planted the day after using Roundup died…but corn, beans, limas, okra, you name it all loved this. And I replanted the tomatoes a couple weeks later and they also did very well with no-till gardening.) I side-dressed with 10-10-10 fertilizer after plants came up. The dead grass of the field was sufficient for mulch.

Have tried many things…even gardening in Florida sand. The raised beds are great where the conditions that already exist at a location are not acceptable—but totally unnecessary in many instances.

I’m sure ‘core gardening’ works, but I tend to think most of these newer ideas are invented by city folks, whereas country folks knew how to garden by the time they entered elementary school!


i did mine similar but used smallish wood/ sticks and cow manure in between for the 1st 12in. then filled the top with good bag soil. they’ve been growing great now for 5 yrs. only had to add a small amount of soil/ compost to make up for settling.

I did something similar when I lived on a steep east facing slope. I piled retaining bricks and backfilled with smaller branches and soil. My blueberries loved it and grew quickly. I will do some thing similar here with the future raised beds.

most of my trees and bushes are planted on spray killed lawn . would just put the rootball on the dead grass and mound soil tamped well around it with a good 4in. of mulch to hold it all in place. i pound a stake in the middle to tie the tree to until the roots get established enough to hold up the tree.

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i think sticks and small wood would work better as they don’t beak down as quickly as straw or leaves. maybe a mix of them all is the way to go.

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I did this with one of my raised beds but with logs and sticks. Was a nice way to use up wood that was not good for burning. It has been a bed that’s done really well for root crops. Carrots struggle in my yard but for some reason in that bed they grow long, straight, and have excellent flavor. Could be coincidence, but you never know.

Hugelkulture and core gardening really just are about composting in place aren’t they?


Take a look at double digging and research bastard trenching as well. As you open the trenches, break up the lower level with a potato fork, then back fill the trenches with leaves or straw. Then cover the leaves etc. with the soil from the next trench. The problem with raised beds that use high edging like 2x12’s is that the roots end up being exposed to high soil temperatures. Raised beds can easily be done without the use of lumber. Much easier to maintain and prepare the soil as well. Double Digging | The Method and the History How to Dig - Simple Digging & Bastard Trenching | Dig for Victory

Color me skeptical.

I can see that berming up the middle of the row provides runoff to the rows along the sides ( at the expense of not having a row down the middle).

Other than that, I greatly doubt a few flakes of buried straw are going to provide, in effect, a significant reservoir of water compared to a soil which (by appearances) is already heavily amended with absorbent organic material.

My entire container garden is a “core” garden in that it consists of wood chips broken down with urea with some minor nutrients added. A few sticks and other amendments are mixed in to provide aeration.

In my very dry environment the absorbency is welcome, but it’s not like magic. I still have to water every day. By the way, the water drains straight down. It doesn’t helpfully move sideways to provide irrigation for nearby plants. I know because I use cloth bags which don’t get wet along the sides unless I put the hose right on the edge .

Until I see otherwise I’d put it as one of those gardening tips that takes on a life of it’s own merely because it sounds plausible.

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thats why i prefer the hugel method as the rotting wood holds water so your plants can use it. also the green manure i put in with the wood helps hold water also. my raised beds are on the ground and 18in. tall so are less prove to temp. fluctuations or drying out. i also add coarse D.E which holds water and adds air and silica to grow strong plants. before i plant my beds , i put 3in. of fine wood chips over the whole surface of the bed then move the chips away to make my rows. i then plant in those rows. the wood chips in between the rows help hold water and keep out the weeds . at the end of the growing season i sprinkle some blood/ bonemeal all over the bed and turn all the wood chips into the soil. by spring the wood chips are all broken down and its ready to plant again. unfortunately the double digging method won’t work here because our heavy rocky soil is near impossible to dig in in the 1st. place. i even plant my trees and shrubs on top of it in mounds with bagged soil so i don’t have to dig into it…