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What Are Hügels and Why Are They All Over Instagram?

Published on April 19, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Gardener with hands full of of tree bark mulch.

There’s no shortage of cannabis porn on Instagram—epic dab videos, grow room glamour shots, heavily edited close-ups of frosty buds, more glass than you can shake a Bic at. But a humbler trend began this month when outdoor cannabis growers began posting photos of what look like, well, carefully constructed piles of dirt.

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The photos, mostly from southern Oregon and California’s Emerald Triangle—prime cannabis-growing territory—include the hashtag #ShowMeYourHugel. Which raises the question:

WTF is a hügel?

Hügels (HOO-guls) are earthen mounds used in agriculture. They’re common within the eco-conscious permaculture community.

Gettin wavy with the Hügels @livingsoilssymposium

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They offer all sorts of benefits to farmers, such as building soil fertility, holding moisture, and even generating enough heat to extend the growing season.

Hügels reduce water use and help build healthy, biodynamic soil.
Hügels reduce water use and help build healthy, biodynamic soil.

To build a hügel, first you dig a trench. Then you fill it with biomass—stuff like small logs, branches, grass clippings, leaves, or other compostable material. Cover the hügel with a layer of rich topsoil.

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A hügel’s woody core acts like a sponge, retaining moisture that would otherwise be lost.

‘Twas a nice day for hüglin #showmeyourhugel #CBDgarden
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And as the stuff inside the hügel decomposes, it releases nutrients into the soil and helps improve drainage and airflow.

Nothing like building Mounds in the rain 💪#showmeyourhugel #racannabis ✌

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The #ShowMeYourHugel trend started earlier this month, after the Living Soils Symposium. It’s a conference focused on soil-grown cannabis, emphasizing biodynamic growing methods and soil regeneration. (Cannabis can be good for the environment!)

The practice of farming with hügels is known as hügelkultur.

Cannabis loves hügels.

So do dogs.

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Want to make a hügel of your own? Here’s how:

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Ben Adlin
Ben Adlin
Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin
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