On the idea of hugelkultur
beds... here are the results of one of mine that is in it's 3rd year of growth. This hugelkultur
bed was built to be a privacy hedgerow, wind block, and native plant
habitat area. Ultimately it will also be used to keep deer
out though the double fence
helps with that right now. I also grow strawberries and vegetables (perennial
and annuals along with some native vegetables) along it and I'm planning on adding some evergreen huckleberries to the backside of it (they like shade) and a few other edible plants.
So yes hugelkultur beds can work and can really be abundant and filled with life. The birds and other wildlife love this hedgerow and it's already a great privacy hedgerow and the trees
planted along the inside of it are just starting to get above the shrubs that face the neighbors (and the deer!).
Edit: I wanted to add that one of the big changes I made with this hugelkultur bed is I stopped using small material. I only used large logs and rounds and then smaller but still 2-4 inch across branches or logs. I was then very careful to add soil in to all the spaces between the large pieces of wood
. The result has been a hugelklutur bed that hasn't settled much at all and also doesn't have any major rodent issues. I feel like the small material just makes it harder to get the spaces filled with soil and don't really add much benefit.