Guy’s Mound is for the bees

It’s something he dreamed up while drifting off to sleep – an inexpensive and easy method for growing a bee garden. He calls it a “mulch growing row.” I call it “Guy’s Mound.” You can call it whatever you like, but it sure works nicely!

Guy Duran is well known in the Fremont area as a Master Gardener, president of the Fremont Flower Club and creator of our joint August tomato tasting & seed saving event, and he can often be found volunteering in LEAF gardens. Most days he’s in East Palo Alto tending to two micro-farms and experimenting with new gardening techniques. 

After LEAF’s bee operations expanded from the C.R. Stone Garden into what is now called the Bee Sanctuary, Guy – flower fancier that he is – saw a need for a similar expansion of the garden’s bee feeding grounds. The soil in the new area was hard, unimproved clay, so Guy decided to build it up. He happened to have a large supply of 5-gallon plant pots and came up with a clever idea for what amounts to a raised planter, with the path piled up the sides instead of boards. It’s quite ingenious, really.

Five-gallon buckets full of compost are at the heart of the mound. (Photo by Guy Duran)

You could easily do this in a much smaller space, but Guy started out with a 50’ row, a lot of compost and shredded tree trimmings. He filled the pots with soil and turned them upside down. The pots were placed about 18” apart, center to center. Then he piled mulch around the sides, nearly covering the tops. Once all the mulch was in place, he pulled out the pots, leaving 5 gallon “plugs” of compost. He covered the whole thing with gorilla hair mulch (finely shredded redwood bark) to hold it all together and make it look nice. Then he ran two ⅝” drip lines on top. 

Two drip irrigation lines were run along the top of the mound. (Photo by Guy Duran)

Each plug of compost was planted with flower seedlings – no fertilizer needed. You could just as easily plant it out with veggies or herbs. The flowers are a mix of annuals and perennials. Guy’s thought was to have some permanent plants with a variety of summer annuals that would re-seed. The hope is that next year little effort will be needed. 

Then each compost “plug” was planted with flower seedlings. (Photo by Guy Duran)

The mound is attracting a variety of pollinators as well as beautifying the garden. Gee, thanks, Guy! Great idea. Now we can try it out at home.

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