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Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur article thread

 
Caleb Larson
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Ludi wrote:
Looking good Calemb!  Don't you love it when you find a use for something that used to be kind of a problem?   


I love great solutions.

I used to bury some of the smaller wood chunks and sawdust when I first started running the sawmill.  I thought it was a bad idea at the time but I didnt know what else to do with them, so I just "hid" them out of sight.  Now that I know, I am looking around for island treasures of lush growth starting on their own.  Its funny to think back on those times now.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Lettuce in my hugel garden:

 
danelle grower
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This is GREAT! love the pics! worth 10 thousand words! now my husband knows what I have been talking about. He is more on board now thank you!
 
Travis Halverson
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Just finished up half a hugelkultur bed.

This area was a Strawberry patch two years ago when we moved in.  I moved the berries at the end of that season and planted mostly beans there last season.



Under the cracked cold frame.


Here's some wood we've had for over a year.  I don't what type it is so I hope it'll work.


Dug down about a foot and a half.  The soil not under the cold frame was rock hard so I'll have to do that one later.  Maybe make that side taller too since it's the north side.


Fit one layer of logs in.


Added some smaller brush and a burlap sack for the heck of it.


Moved much of the soil back over it.


Please let me know if there is anyway I could improve on this for the other section.  It's about 4'x3'.

Thanks.
 
Jordan Lowery
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i would not add the burlap sack over the wood on the next one. your preventing the soil from getting in full contact with the wood. this helps a lot with decomposition.

you could fill up the wood section and then cover with burlap and the rest of the stuff though.
 
Travis Halverson
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Good.  Thanks.
 
danelle grower
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Ludi is that a current photo? Looks so good. I am wondering did you plant seeds or starts in that bed? What kind of watering did you do? how much soil is on top of that bed.  It is hard for me to comprehend not needing to water veggies.  With an established berry bush I can see that more. I don't know I am just not getting it when it comes to small crops veggies and things.  Please set me straight I want to know what you did your results are YUMMY looking thanks
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, that's from a few days ago.    Direct seeded in the bed.  Watering every evening (because there are seeds starting all over the garden, I just lightly water the whole thing with a handheld sprinkler hose).  Not much soil, maybe 4 - 6 inches at most.  Wood is starting to show through where the soil has collapsed into the beds.  I will put more soil over the wood after seeing how much it collapses, being more careful to fill in around the logs and sticks.  There are holes and depressions all over.    I think a snake might be living in them... Definitely going to add more mulch and soil as I replant the beds. 
 
danelle grower
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Ludi what part of the country are you in? If you don't mind my asking. I'm in the PNW.  With all the rain everything just gets washed away. I am so impressed with your lettuce I had a salad for dinner and just pretended it was from the garden.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Ludi is that a current photo? Looks so good. I am wondering did you plant seeds or starts in that bed? What kind of watering did you do? how much soil is on top of that bed.  It is hard for me to comprehend not needing to water veggies.  With an established berry bush I can see that more. I don't know I am just not getting it when it comes to small crops veggies and things.  Please set me straight I want to know what you did your results are YUMMY looking thanks


not every hugelkultur bed will give you water free veggies, but pretty much all when established will recude watering needs. its all about the amount of wood debris you store below. and how long its had to decompose. as paul has mentioned before the first year its pretty much like a regular garden bed and you water it when it needs water, but after that is when the hugelkultur benefits kick in. the wood acts as a sponge to not only water but microbes and nutrients. given that you have enough rotting organic matter below/in the bed and that it has had enough moisture over say the winter or rainy season to soak up as much as possible(or your hose). then add some good mulch and you will reap the rewards of water free veggies.
 
Bryan Baker
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I've read most of this thread, and I don't remember if anyone has posed this question.  So here it goes.  I was thinking of digging down 4ft, and then building up a 6ft hugel bed.  After that I'm thinking of putting some kind of boarder around it.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this idea?  I know it's going to be a lot of work, but I can do the work. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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danelle wrote:
Ludi what part of the country are you in? If you don't mind my asking. I'm in the PNW.  With all the rain everything just gets washed away. I am so impressed with your lettuce I had a salad for dinner and just pretended it was from the garden.


I'm glad you were inspired.    I'm in Central Texas.
 
danelle grower
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ludi guess we could make a little trade rain for some sun? I wanted to go out today and scout for some blow down trees. Looked like we would get a break 10 min was just to wet and cold maybe fri.  So am stuck drawing on paper reading. Might try small sticks inside a pot to grow on the deck. Mini hugelkultur ever heard of that? Or tried it yourself
 
Jordan Lowery
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I've read most of this thread, and I don't remember if anyone has posed this question.  So here it goes.  I was thinking of digging down 4ft, and then building up a 6ft hugel bed.  After that I'm thinking of putting some kind of boarder around it.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this idea?  I know it's going to be a lot of work, but I can do the work.


if you have the materials and the time to let it mature, it should work out great. try and make it on a contour line if you can to catch water like a swale does.
 
Bryan Baker
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Does anyone know if a Palo Verde would do well in a hugel bed?
 
Cal Burns
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Working on another hugelkultur, this one a bit larger.

Looks like a great start. Ive been putting in hugel beds as well and live around Austin Have you found a source around here for getting sheep manure in quantity? Rabbit or goat would be great as well. I have looked high and low for getting some truck loads of it for my garden spots.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I have sheep, so that solves the manure situation for me.  I don't know of any sources close to Austin.
 
Caleb Larson
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Just a quick photo update.

I added wood to the second bed tonight, several 10" rotting logs. and lots of rotting firewood chunks, and a few random mill scraps.

I have started scrounging rocks for the borders and I added 12 more wheelbarrow loads of dirt too.



 
Kay Bee
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Finally got the hugelkultur bed posts up on the blog.  In addition to about 20 individual hugel beds for solo fruit/nut trees, we now have 7 long hugel beds that are each 100-120 feet long. 

Here is a shot of some of the just-covered long row beds before planting:

More pics and building details at the blog

http://wellheeledhills.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/hugelkultur-beds-part-i/

http://wellheeledhills.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/hugelkultur-part-2/
 
Jordan Lowery
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im noticing that some people are cutting fresh wood and using that. I would just like to point out that some woods will root and grow back from buried logs. acacias being one of them, that's how i propagate them. As always adapt to your environment and KNOW YOUR MATERIALS.
 
                    
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hubert cumberdale wrote:
im noticing that some people are cutting fresh wood and using that. I would just like to point out that some woods will root and grow back from buried logs. acacias being one of them, that's how i propagate them. As always adapt to your environment and KNOW YOUR MATERIALS.


will aspen sprout?

i'm currently dogging a large hole and am gonna throw some aspen and maple in it. i know aspen is a vigorous tree but i dont think it will take that much abuse.

my site is in a meadow like area with a very high water table, mostly seasonally. I'm figuring it will be a very good spot for it. I intend to plant 4 honeylocusts, one at each corner. Not sure if ill turn em into poles or not yet. the honeylocust idea is new. basically think they could be used to fence it off. but i like the benefits of the locust too. maybe just propagate them then kill them. who knows,

i'm also trying a fukouka plan, a holzer plan, a sort of 'one circle plan' and overall permaculture design. i'm doing it all with shovel basically and chain saw so its slow going.

 
Burra Maluca
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hubert cumberdale wrote:
im noticing that some people are cutting fresh wood and using that. I would just like to point out that some woods will root and grow back from buried logs. acacias being one of them, that's how i propagate them. As always adapt to your environment and KNOW YOUR MATERIALS.


Thanks for the tip!  I'd given up attempting to transplant acacia suckers to act as nurse trees as they always die on me, but I think I have a new trick up my sleeve now. 
 
Salkeela Bee
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After following K.B.'s link and looking at the contoured hugel beds he/she's done, I'm thinking about this for some apple saplings I have.

Our soil is thin and there is a load of rock about 20cm beneath the surface.  Luckily the rock is shaley and trees seem to get their roots into the cracks and do okay.

However I was thinking about how the hugel/swale approach might be good.  The area I hope to use for the 80+ small apple trees (1 year old) is SE facing (N hemisphere) and is fairly compacted due to decades of grazing. 

The hugel/swale approach would surely help add organic matter to the area and prevent the good stuff being swept down hill in the rain.  Hmmmmm lots to contemplate.

Dare I let the son loose with the digger?  Or should I attempt to learn to drive the brute of a machine myself?   
 
Jordan Lowery
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will aspen sprout?


not sure, we dont have aspen here. im 100% dry or even rotting aspen wont root.

Thanks for the tip!  I'd given up attempting to transplant acacia suckers to act as nurse trees as they always die on me, but I think I have a new trick up my sleeve now.


its simple, take a long branch about 3 inches diameter. cut it into lengths about 6-8 inches long. get a bucket/pot/tub and put a little unfinished compost in. lay the branch cuttings down, and cover with a ft of more unfinished compost. let sit for at least a month, more in colder weather. take them out and they should have roots and some shoots trying to grow to the surface. transplant them into pots at the appropriate level and there ya go. there also really easy to grow from seed just so you know.
 
Suzy Bean
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There is a good summary of Hugelkultur, as well as what woods to avoid using at http://www.appropedia.org/Hugelkultur
 
                    
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i've almost completed my hugelkultur and am planning on doing more, but since i only can only do so much i am thinking about what goes in this one. I would like to utilize the time i have as well as i can and that means getting my seeds into the ground. i was thinking of making this first bed a perennial lupine bed, but now that i'm not too sure of their edibility i'm thinking of going with something a little more traditional. maybe soybean so i dont have to worry about a nitrogen deficiency in the first year. 

i also am considering putting a couple fruit trees in it instead.

oh the choices!!

 
Cal Burns
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Been digging deep into my raised beds about 18". Slow going with our Texas clay, and came across a huge boulder about 2x2'. Took awhile to get that sucker out of the ground! Hopefully after doing this I won't have to dig as deep again...
This raised bed is just beyond the drip line of a pecan tree. Hopefully the tree roots won't be getting into the bed to scoop up some of that extra moisture.
Getting some sheep poop to mix in with leaves to add to the soil after putting down some tree limbs. 
P1120751.JPG
[Thumbnail for P1120751.JPG]
 
Jordan Lowery
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in the last bed i built, i ran into a huge boulder. what i dug out was about 3' diameter and 2 ft tall. must have only been the top half of the boulder. so i dug as deep as i could around it and filled the space with logs, and continued to build the bed. im guessing when the heat from decomposition happens some of that heat will go to the rock and be held there for a little while. only time will tell.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I kept wondering who was digging odd holes in my hugel beds, then I noticed this tail:



Later I was able to get a snapshot of her head:



She's probably laying eggs in there.   
 
Charlie Michaels
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I know this is probably been answered, but this thread is too long.

Is it a general consensus that conifers are ok to use? Is any kind worse than others?

Surely Sepp must use firs, right? Because if conifers are good enough for Sepp, they're good enough for me.
 
                      
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Started a Hugelkultur bed today its 10x4 and 1 1/2 foot deep.
I havent dug this much since I pissed off my old drill sergeant back on sand hill.
Nobody said it was easy I sure hope it goes well. Dug up a grip of stones im thinking about putting them around the plants once they start growing is this a sound idea?
 
David Castillo
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I'm going to build what I'm calling a hugelspiral. Basically it's an herb spiral using the hugelkultur principles.

My plan is to dig down 18-24". Make a pyramid type shape out of the wood and then build upon it as you would normally do.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Only thought is it might not stay the spiral shape you want because of uneven settling as the wood rots.

 
David Castillo
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Only thought is it might not stay the spiral shape you want because of uneven settling as the wood rots.


Thanks. I Didn't really think about that, but I don't think it should be much of a problem.

I'm planning to use field stones (free and local source  ) and actually kind of set them in the dirt building the spiral that way vs building with the stones and then placing the dirt. I'll also be using alot of annual herbs, as I eat way more of them, meaning I'll be out there yearly messing with it anyway so it shouldn't be too much to have fix as long as I keep up with it. Or at least I hope. 
 
Jack Shawburn
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K.B. Great to see your Hugelswales!
and would love to see them 2-3 years later.
I'm concerned some people do not put enough soil on top.
Our climate is quite dry so I put more than a foot of soil on top.
 
Kevin Sturgill
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Just built our first hugelkultur bed a few weeks ago and planted it with jerusalem artichokes.



http://pathtosustainableliving.com/2011/jerusalem-artichoke-hugelkultur-bed-construction/
 
Kay Bee
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Jen0454 wrote:
K.B. Great to see your Hugelswales!
and would love to see them 2-3 years later.
I'm concerned some people do not put enough soil on top.
Our climate is quite dry so I put more than a foot of soil on top.

Thanks Jen!  I will do my best to keep posting pictures as they mature.

I'm concerned over our dry summer, as well.  Hopefully we will be in good shape to have thick layers of chop and drop mulch over much of the beds by summer.
 
Katy Whitby-last
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Hi everyone. I could really do with some advice as I am new to the concept. I live in the NE of Scotland so it's cold and wet. Our soil (where we have any) is very heavy clay and it's very wet and rather acidic. The site where I want to create some beds is beside our house which is on the site of an old steading so there really isn't any soil. Is it possible to create a hugelkultur bed without any soil?

I have a wide range of things I could put into the beds and was wondering which would be the optimum mix. I have : a number of fallen trees (ash, rowan, larch and wild cherry) plus loads of gorse; a big pile of well rotted wood chip mixed with horse manure from a neighbour's riding arena, a large quantity of well rotten chicken manure, a large quantity of fresh horse manure (without any bedding in it), a couple of big bales of mouldy haylage and a similar quantity of old hay and of course no soil. Which combination would be best?
 
Emerson White
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If you haven't got any soil mix dirt and well finished compost and use that.
 
                                          
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Hi,

I'm new to this forum so I may have missed this question.

I recently built raised beds out of cedar that are very large 4'x12'x2'. I remembered reading about hugelkultur in Gaia's Garden. My neighbor recently fell an ash tree and is looking to give away the wood so I was thinking about putting the rounds in the bottom of the beds to save on the cost of dirt and improve my soil.

Does anyone know if ash is an acceptable wood for this technique? It seems like it would be good as it is fairly soft and would rot well.

Mark
 
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