Hi I live in the South of France, at about 500m above sea level (so a lot of frost and below-freezing temps in winter and very hot dry summers) I've always gardened in a traditional way but am really interested in finding out about new methods. I have major water issues as usually no rain from May to Oct and feel among other things, that I'm using to much water... any help please?


Hello Penelope . Have you tried harvesting water in the rainy season ? Also mulching around plants should help . Good luck . Ionuț

You could try building hugel beds (mounds filled with wood which act like sponges, so hold water - at least in theory!).

Hi Helen . I’ve seen Geoff Lawton in one video saying that hugel beds don’t work well in dry season . He mentioned pit gardens , for more water retention . Haven’t tried yet but hopefully this season . Best wishes , Ionuț

I will look into pit gardens, particularly as I live in a low rainfall region and in summer it is particularly dry.

The wood in the beds does not seem to be decomposing with any great speed but I am hopeful that in the long run they will do what they are supposed to :-)

Just done a quick search on both hugelculture in dry climates and pit gardens.

It would seem that if your climate is dry, it is better to build a trench for the wood, rather than layering it on top of the soil. I’ve gone for the trench style but as mentioned above I haven’t noticed any decimposition in the wood yet.

As for pit gardens, I wonder if Geoff Lawton means the aforementioned trenches or a greenhouse dug into the ground, which is what I found?

Hello Helen . Sorry for not replying , it took my awhile to track back this message :) Initially I was hoping to see the video again with Geoff mentioning the pit gardens . It was on in the Q&A , but couldn’t find it yet . Sounds like the trenches might be the better idea . One things I’ve noticed in my raisedbed/hugel/all organic matter recycling , rats like to move underneath ! I have to find ways to save water too in our allotments . All the best ! Ionuț

Thanks for the link, Ionut!