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found giant, natural hugelkultur on my property

 
Dale Hodgins
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  Two months ago I had never heard the word hugelkulture. Well I figure go big or go home . A combination of luck and brilliance has led me to this.

     I got started on hugel beds today and got an amazing amount done since I was working with an excavator. My new tenant who owns the excavator is moving his fifth wheel trailer onto the furthest corner of my half mile long and very skinny property. When he mentioned that he could totally rebuild the road in order to place his trailer I naturally chose to put him at the very end so that I would get half a mile of road completely widened and graded. . About 10 hours of machine time.  I've swung the chainsaw for three days clearing 4 inch diameter trees from an area 3 feet from both sides of the road so no shortage of raw materials for hugelkulture.

     My property has an old railway line running up the center which interferes with natural drainage. A portion to the north side of my road is quite damp and there are areas where I can toss wood waste into boggy areas 10 feet deep but only 6 feet from the safety of my gravel road. There is an area approximately 400 feet long by 40 deep which is extremely well suited for this. I've filled many 30 yard demolition bins and I estimate that this area could hold 80 of these! The road which used to be the railway divides the property into wet and dry zones. Being on the North side of the road the soggy areas get quite a bit of light since the road is a continuous clearing to the south.

    All of this sounds great but there's more . When the place was logged 11 years ago they dumped all the crappy stuff over the bank into this wet area. Around here what loggers consider crappy are maple, alder, Cottonwood and other quick to rot species. They dumped  very little cedar. All of this was  overgrown with salmon berries so I wasn't aware until today that so much of the work was already done. This area had been a big question mark. At one point I considered filling it with clean fill and at other times I considered a pond but I've chosen to turn it into a giant compost heap instead. I dropped about 10 dead maples and alders on top of this mess and then climbed down and sawed up the punky wood so that chunks could fall in to fill big voids. I then spent several hours throwing small trees from the roadway into the holes.

     Today's decision to create such a huge hugelkulture gives a positive use to what was the most problematic portion of the property. With the salmon berries gone this spot will no longer be attractive to bears and the raised beds won't breed mosquitoes as the damp gullies now do. The proximity of the damp area to a high and dry road means that I'll be able to bring organic waste from town and dump without ever becoming stuck. So this most difficult area to deal with will soon start saving me money on dumpage while it creates compost. I'll hire my tenant from time to time to stir the mix and to push it further from the road with his extend a hoe.

    Although the ground is quite damp in this area it's underlain with gravelly soil so if the excavator is ever needed down below it will have good footing.

    I have an old truckmounted crane which was formerly used to hoist Hydro poles. Although it's not roadworthy it could be used with a big scoop made from an oil tank to hoist compostable wood waste out 30 feet from the road. So when gathering compostable's I may put everything in containers that can easily be lifted off the pickup truck and trailer and slung out by the crane. With a regular dump box on the pickup truck material would tend to accumulate on the sloped bank of the road and become more difficult to dump as time goes on. But by using the crane I should be able to get stuff to the deepest parts of my gullies.

    This has been by far the most productive day I've ever spent on the property
   
 
John Polk
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Over time, that could become one of the most productive strips in the region.  Swampy areas usually have an abundance of "critter" life.  By adding sufficient organic material, you will soon be building new soil into an area that collects water.  Win/win.
 
rose macaskie
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that gets rid of the trees you could have used to do hugglkulture. rose.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The first phase of the hugelkulture project is now complete. It was 4 1/2 days of hard slogging. I felled a couple thousand Cottonwood, Alder and Maple trees which averaged about 4 inches in diameter. Then I chopped them into 6 to 10 foot lengths as my helper stacked them into  properly sized bites for the excavator to grab. Some of the cottonwoods were 10 inches and 50 feet tall. The oldest of these trees were only 11 years since that's when 80% of the property was clear-cut. That's an amazing growth rate. All of this was from an area 3 feet wide along each side of the overgrown road and from a 1/8 acre clearing where my tenant will keep his truck, trailer and storage containers. Two more acres are heavily treed with the same stuff and I'll thin them out as required. There's quite a bit of natural die off happening since the trees are quite tight together so I'm doing an improvement cut where I choose to leave the best specimens to become dominant. After five years of natural regeneration the trees averaged 2 inches in diameter. The last five years have seen them put on wood very quickly. 2 inch cottonwoods weighing about 10  pounds have grown to 50 footers weighing 200+ pounds. So I am going to have to come up with lots of uses for small dimension poles as the remaining forest is thinned.

    The hugelkulture beds now contain approximately 150 yd.³ of wood waste. They occupy approximately 5% of the available space. So that means I have room for another 3000 yd.³ of material and with shrinkage as they compost there is probably room for 10,000 yd.³ over a five-year period. To obtain this much material I'll need to develop a part-time business disposing of tree waste and other organic materials. After all of the material I cut was incorporated my tenant plucked out the stumps and topped the piles with a muddy mix of stumps and soil. I'm hoping that the piles heat as they decompose since this will expedite the process. I may add chicken manure next year to move things along.

    I've seen several different spellings of hugelkulture . Does anyone have a definitive answer on how this should be spelled .
 
John Polk
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Talk to tree trimmers and landscapers in your region.  Many will be happy to oblige you, as they are probably paying 'tipping fees' to dispose of their 'wastes' at the landfill.

Also, a 'wanted' ad on Craig's List could produce many loads of material.
"Wanted.  Old/rotted stumps and logs.  Will haul."
Put it in the Farm/Garden section. 

You might be surprised how many people might want a yard or pasture cleaned up, especially if they don't have to pay for it.  Many might even help load it, just to get rid of it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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John Polk wrote:


You might be surprised how many people might want a yard or pasture cleaned up, especially if they don't have to pay for it.  Many might even help load it, just to get rid of it.

 
Dale Hodgins
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   No John,I won't be offering any free dumpage or any free labor or trucking. The going rate for organic waste disposal around here is $75 per ton plus trucking. The going rate for chainsaw work is $40 plus per hour. There is no logical reason to charge less than this.

   Finding a giant hole that will never fill up on a property close to the city is better than finding a gold nugget. The hole will never fill up because compost constantly shrinks and because I have a never ending need for the material on other parts of the farm.

    I've made my living from waste disposal but this is the first time that I've been able to operate any sort of dump. I'm viewing this huge composting area as the farm's number one asset. Since I'm in the beginning stages and haven't even built a house or planted any crops my gullies will be the first area of the property to earn income.

   I'll haul products to the property myself and work with a few professional landscapers. I don't want to attract the public since I would be opening myself up to illegal dumpage when I'm not around. I will use craigslist and other means of contacting those who need to dispose of organic waste.

   Another reason to not allow the public in is that I want to avoid bringing certain invasive plants such as English ivy. Professionals are likely to know the difference between various species.
 
John Polk
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True enough.  I would not invite the public either, just for the liability issue alone!
 
Dale Hodgins
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  I returned to the property yesterday eight days after starting the hugel beds. I was hoping to find that they were over 200° and pissing steam. Instead they were completely cold. It's been a little cold out and we've had some dull overcast days. All of the munched up trees have retained their leaves and I don't think they know they're dead yet . It's not uncommon for fallen alder to sprout roots from its branches if it falls into a muddy spot and that's effectively the situation I've created with these trees.

    Spent the whole day using loppers and a extension pole lopper to clean up all of the low hanging branches on about a quarter mile of road. Knocking down all of those young alder and Cottonwood revealed that much of the branches hanging over the road at 8 to 14 feet high were not from trees immediately adjacent to the road but were instead from maples that were as much as 20 feet away. There were also lots of  1 inch to 2 inch trees which were left behind in the initial scramble to keep ahead of the excavator. I produced enough stuff to fill a pickup truck four times. All of this material was tossed into future hugel beds. This would seem like a lot material if I hadn't had last week's experience of moving a pickup truck load with each bite of the excavator.

     It's raining now but I'll soon head out anyway. If you wait for dry weather on Vancouver Island this time of year nothing gets accomplished. I've always found that I'm more productive and hired help is more productive on overcast days when it's not too hot. The other day I took to working with my shirt off during a light, warm rain and my helper noted that there was steam coming off of me. I told him if he moved his ass a little faster there would be steam coming off him as well and he might shed some of his belly. I then treated him to a few lines of the Bob Seeger song  " like a rock" , as I showed off what all of this hard work has done to my 47-year-old body  ." Stood there boldly,swettin in the sun, felt like a million, I felt like number one, the height of summer, I'd never felt that strong like a rock".  He wasn't nearly as appreciative of this as were the ladies at a jam night where I performed this to rapturous applause.  
 
rose macaskie
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dale hodgkins, you are a rip roaring sort of person. Maybe you have a a more efficient heart than others, the Spanish world winning cyclist Indurain was said to have a more efficient heart than men usually do so it may not be fair to compare yourself with your companion. You dont only rush out into the rain you  write masses too. Hercules.
 If you level out the ground, you were talking of filling in all your dips, you will be doing what humans have always done, level everything. When we aren't being amazingly creative we are leveling everything and making everything all the same, our abilities blind us to our blind spots.  Leveling out the land is one of the things that Bill Mollison mentions with some disapproval as having been done in Arizona in order to grow cotton, still with your hugglekulture beds, you ground wont be too flat.
There is also an Australian, I have been searching for him and not found him, to mention his name here, who talks of the importance of water and wet lands as the liver and kidneys of the land, and after reading about how cattails and the microrganisms at their feet digest things like detergent, break down the detergent molecules into their component atoms, mostly carbon and hydrogen and about how some mushrooms, maybe plants can  break down things that have phosphorus in them down and so are more complicated to break down and digest, soby  rendering bad substances good, i can understand why areas with a lot of water in them, rivers and swamps can be compared with livers and kidneys, so careful with what you are doing when you fill in the swamps: i supppose with your energy you will be able to undo what ever you do as fast as you do it if more time with all the ins and outs of permaculture type things makes you change your mind about some part of what you do now.
    Sweating can be a sign of diabetis, i think it is often more normal in older people too, and there are yoguis who can make sheets wet with sweat in the snow, so maybe you have just got the trick of controling your heat that is possible to adquire but that many people dont control at all. agri rose macaskie.
 
Dale Hodgins
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  Hi Rose, I have a speech engine for my computer which allows me to talk into a microphone and have it record what I say with relative accuracy. Although I have very little computer knowledge this device has made it possible for me to go from being a two fingered typist to being faster than the court stenographer. It's called Dragon speech. It cost me $100 which hurt a little but I'm glad I have it since there's no way I would have been so prolific otherwise. Until the last few months I hadn't written much in years even though all of my friends say that's what I should be doing professionally.

    That was quite a run-on sentence in the middle of your post .  I am not trying to level the land. Vancouver Island is a very bumpy place and there is no way I could ever accomplish this on all of my property. The seasonally swampy areas are not there naturally but were created when a railway was built on my land about 95 years ago. And these aren't nice bright swamps with Venus fly traps and pitcher plants. They are dark nearly lifeless gullies with logging slash rotting in them. I intend to bring them to light and life.  I expect that there will be a constant turnover of material as I will occasionally fill up trucks with finished compost to use throughout the property. In this way the holes will never fill up. I would like to get to a point where I can handle 3000 yd.³ per year. That's $15,000 worth of dumpage at five bucks a yard. Of course I need this stuff so it's a win-win, both for me.

    I have several high and dry spots that are well above my road. It would take an amazing effort to build hugel beds since all of the material would need to be lifted as much as 15 feet up and 30 feet out. When I want to build beds on these little plateaus I'll get the excavator to fill up big buckets made from 300 gallon oil tanks that arrive on the back of my 18 foot flat deck crane truck. I figure it can hold eight of them at once so each trip to the compost pile would require 2400 gallons of partially finished compost. There's probably room for more than 100 truckloads of this material. It is possible to create hugel beds from scratch on these slopes but since they are naturally very dry during the summer it's likely that decomposition would take several years.

    I've done quite a bit of labor management having had hundreds of employees over the years. I always lead by example and use humor to push them to greater heights since griping at them doesn't work. My younger brother used to work for me and if he saw one of the guys slacking off or doing things bass ackwords he would pretend to open a book and say        "Chapter 3, verse five of Dales book of condescension,  well I suppose if I were a complete idiot I might try to do it that way as well. I once watched a five-year-old girl who could.... just like you do". I've always prided myself on being the Simon Cowell/Mike Holmes of mocking the building errors of others. On this forum you have to hold your tongue or get deleted and it's killing me . I'm a big fan of stupidity in all of its glorious manifestations so it's hard for me to not talk about it.
 
                          
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Often this can be due simply to a change of diet or a system unused to spicy food.
 
rose macaskie
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 You should talk about alll the information you have what ever it is, after all people can answer back, they are grown up they can take it and answer you back and everyone always know more than others on something or wil do one day so if you beat them today they will beat you tomorrow talking is sometimes frightening you dont want to squash others i think instead of being afraid of squashing them you have to teach them to be strong and they will also know more than you and others one day. If you dont work on the premise that everyone can take being contradicted you never dare pass on any usefull bit of information, i know, i have been there.
Is your thread a con? Everyone is too polite to you to say why are you throwing trees in a swamp? When was that ever permacullture?n amnd then you feel as if you have caught them out be3cause you have suggested somthign tha tis not a good idea and no one has corrected you and you take it that they are stupid. Filling swamps with trees is not even something i have ever considered so it more makes me think how would that work than have any sort of answer to your suggestion. If you think others are stupid is it maybe that you have not looked far enough into permaculture? It is a subject with a lot of ins and outs, do you maybe think that Austrians have a strange tradition of burying logs that does not work? Does not it make sense that they would not have such a tradition unless it did work.
There is not an idea of bill mollisons that you dont find comes from agricuiltural engineering or is now being studied by the specialists he  popularise the ideas of experts, so strange as they sound to you they are likely to be right if you knew more they would not get your goat so.
   I have spent a lot of time with men they give it by which i mean dollopings of criticism and say you can take it, i have learnt to give all the blows i could and may the best man win or may i stop the dirtiest player winning all, i say that because i have just been attacked and am still thinking of how a mental slight of hand got the better of me. There are so many people that beat you with a lie, by distorting things or by refusing to go through them properly so they can distort the outcome and then pretend they beat you in a fair fight. I hope to stop the dirtiest player winning all, though i cant say that with any confidence in my power to do as much, they still seem to beat me, at least now i get a few mental punches back at them.
     If you dont talk about what you know you are not helping anyone else and it is when you get it out there that others can put you straight if your wrong. Mind you they can also put you wrong and the bossy will look for holes in what you say without checking to find out if you knew what you were talking about or not.
    The essential favour you can do people is to give them information because you believe they can learn, it is not so much that people are geniuses now, it is that you know that if you give them the information, if they have the time to process it and collect more information from others and have the time to work on it, they can all be geniuses. All humans are very clever, have a lot of potential but without information they cant be right. If you dont give out everything you know you keep everyone back.
   When i said that humans level things and get stupid i was not thinking of you, I said what i think is a major problem for humanity in this thread  because it was here i saw the opportunity to say it and it is something i think should be said, it is what i believe we are so clever we don't see that our attention can be side tracked and that we can be stupid about sometihing because we go off on one track and dont control all the other ones because our very intelligence blinds us. If it was not so complicated we would be stupid.
      No one is all knowing at first everyone makes mistakes, you yourself cannnot possibly know it all. I have been writing on these forums for years and am always learning more, there are so many ins and outs, at first I criticised someone for talking about potatoe towers, i can't remember what they are called and later found out  they were totally right and i was wrong.
Being a leader is a very important topic, I suppose it is what bill mollison talks of as being a teacher, It is so important to a country, family or to any group. The methods used to bring on a project that include lots of workers can cripple workers except as usefull manual workers, that is make them do their bit but cripple them in every other way or they can get everyone working and get people to fullfill their potential in every way. Some people are so limiting to others. It is one of those topics that are long and totally necessary and totally complicated.  
 Swamps are always smelly and mosquito ridden and though they seem horrible are usually essential. agri rose macaskie.
 
Brenda Groth
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Dale, sounds like you will be really building a rich plot of soil..congrats
 
Dale Hodgins
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Six months have passed since the wood waste was piled. It has been cold most of that time, with lots of rain and snow. It's been the weirdest winter of the 18 years I've spent in B.C. . Janruary had some nice warm weather and March has been windy with sleet. Somtimes, spring is upon us by this time of year. A few trees blew down in high winds.

It looks like the piles didn't heat at all. In fact, the branches seem like they're ready to grow leaves. The few evergreens that were cut, haven't lost a needle yet and look like they were cut yesterday. Next month I'll fertilize the piles with coffee waste which is abundant and free. I may also add the rich soil from ditches that need cleaning. I have a waterway that is getting clogged with mostly alder and cottonwood waste, so after some dredging, this dirt will be added to the beds.

The Photos

1. This bed covers about 700 sq. ft. It is just north of the road in a spot that will one day be behind the house. There is room to make it 5 times that size.

2. This bed just north of the parking area is about 400 sq. ft. There is a gully running 200 ft long which will eventually be filled with wood waste to make this bed 20 times as large. When the railway was built, they created an embankment to the north of this 200 ft. by 20 ft gully. I will heap stuff partially up this bank which catches full southern sun. From there the land slopes down to a damp area at least three times as large. All of this area is easy to access from the road so it is an area that will be fed from tree waste brought in from paid clean up projects.

3. This 12 ft. deep area(below the adjacent road) is quite wet for 6 months of the year. It gets good sun and will get more once I whack a few dozen trees, mostly red alder that are in decline. There is an area of about 20,000 sq. ft. in this area suitable for hugelkultur.

All of these areas are to the north of the road and parking area. The road which runs east - west thus creates a continuous clearing to the south of each bed.

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Dale Hodgins
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More Photos.

1. I will soon cut these trees to facilitate enlargement of the beds. The evergreens will be used for building and the alder will be dropped into the gully. Most of the alder are old and dying, with broken tops and many woodpecker holes. This is the south facing bank created years ago when earth was moved for a long gone railway.

The other side of this bank has a series of dump truck sized mounds. The sort of terrain that dirt bikers like to do jumps on. All of these mounds are covered in salal, bracken fern and berry bushes so that at first glance the land appears more level. Every step brings a new surprize, since it is impossible to judge depth amongst this dense growth. There are some very steep little hills in this sea of leaves. Goats will be set upon this area before further development. They eat most of what this area produces. It's funny having a big area of land where I have never actually seen the soil. It feels spongy. In some areas the thicket is 7 feet tall. The goats will love it.

2. There is about an acre covered in these young alder and cottonwood. I'm leaving them to grow for now, but they occupy the area that will be needed for the house and orchard. If I were to clear them prematurely, the area could be quickly overrun with broom or thorny berry bushes. It would be nice to find a use for 6 inch alder and cottonwood logs. Most will likely go into hugelkultur.

3. Maintainance of the road and thinning of the young forest has produced a hundred piles like this. After one season on the ground they break up easily when walked on.

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gani et se
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Dale, looking at the photos of the beds, am I missing something? Shouldn't there be some dirt or compost on top of the beds? They look a lot like the slash piles on this land, though admittedly neater.
 
Dale Hodgins
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They are pretty much slash piles, although some soil was added in the first pass with the excavator. There are many stumps. I need to gather the other additions, such as manure, coffee waste and rich muck from my ditches.

Much of the added soil has washed to the bottom in heavy winter rains.

Plants will be set out in areas likely to retain moisture.

The excavator is not on the property right now. When it arrives I'll get him to scrunch the piles and incorporate some soil.

I'll soon run ads for organic waste disposal and at some point I need to get to a beach to gather seaweed.
 
Vladimir Horowitz
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2. There is about an acre covered in these young alder and cottonwood. I'm leaving them to grow for now, but they occupy the area that will be needed for the house and orchard. If I were to clear them prematurely, the area could be quickly overrun with broom or thorny berry bushes. It would be nice to find a use for 6 inch alder and cottonwood logs. Most will likely go into hugelkultur.


Both alder and cottonwood can be used to cultivate gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. And the 6 inch range is a great diameter for log culture from what I understand. This of course would be quite labor intensive, but a way to produce another product on your farm from waste. And once done with producing fungi, the logs will go great in the hugel beds.....

 
Dale Hodgins
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Vladimir Horowitz wrote:2. There is about an acre covered in these young alder and cottonwood. I'm leaving them to grow for now, but they occupy the area that will be needed for the house and orchard. If I were to clear them prematurely, the area could be quickly overrun with broom or thorny berry bushes. It would be nice to find a use for 6 inch alder and cottonwood logs. Most will likely go into hugelkultur.


Both alder and cottonwood can be used to cultivate gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. And the 6 inch range is a great diameter for log culture from what I understand. This of course would be quite labor intensive, but a way to produce another product on your farm from waste. And once done with producing fungi, the logs will go great in the hugel beds.....



Yes this is something I will do one day. For now I will leave that to Brian and Marie, a couple who are moving to the property. I met them here. I am bordered by forestry land, some of it damp.The mushroom farm will spread far and wide. This will fertilize the tree farm so I doubt that anyone will notice,care or object. Whenever I get paid to cut alder, I'll bring the best sizes home for that purpose. Some beds may be inoculated and only used for mushrooms until they burn out. I expect to reserve several thousand sq ft of bed for this.

I don't get the labour intensive part. I thought it was just a matter of place the wood, inoculate and wait.

All of the public land beyond mine and my few neighbours could be farmed for mushrooms.

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Vladimir Horowitz
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I like your grand fungii plans, go big!

As far as log culture being "labor intensive", I mean that the process of inoculating a single log can take a bit of time and if one was to process hundreds or thousands it would be alot of work. ~50 holes needed per 3-4 ft log, drill 50 holes, plug them, have hot wax ready to go, seal all 50 plugs and the ends.......of course a few dedicated people could really crank em out i'm sure. I guess the bulk of the work is the inoculation, stacking is pretty easy, then leaning, laying or partly burying the logs. An occasional watering might be necessary, some techniques soak the logs at certain intervals to maximize production too. So you could do quite a bit of work if you really want to, but you seem like the kind of guy who will find an efficient and productive system...
 
Dale Hodgins
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Ah, I didn't know about the drilling or the burying part. I've only skimmed by the actual how-to sections on fungi.

Basically, several years ago, I saw a show where a guy made a living growing mushrooms on logs and I thought, "I have logs, I can get my hands on many more and get paid to do it, I'm going to do that." And that's where I left it. I haven't ever read up on the process. But remember my go big or go home mantra ? That's how I will attack the learning curve and the log pile once I have the time.

Now with the Hugelkultur plan, it would seem to be the perfect marriage. Spent mushroom logs will make a perfect growing medium for plants. I would think that a bed that is built slowly with only a couple feet of logs added each year, could be maintained in a constant state or mushroom readiness. There is a low area near the drainage ditch which is damp all year. About 10,000 sq ft is covered in salmon berries and dying alder underlain with permanently wet soil. Wicking should handle moisture needs. A sump pump set in the ditch could irrigate the whole thing if water were pumped to the furthest corner. The water would flow under the bed as it flows back to the ditch so that no broadcasting would be needed.



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Dale Hodgins
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Other obligations have kept me from returning to the property since spring. My brother was there a week ago and tells me that the tennants who I met through the forum have an amazing garden. They get a free year which might run into more. They have produced a child as well. He's 2 months old. Photos to follow. I sure hope that they took some pictures. They haven't called since May.

Along with the gardening they have made the cottage liveable with heat and water.
 
Chris Watson
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Dale, I truly envy you. Here in the U.S. we have a law called the Wetlands Protection Act, which is a federal law, but left to each individual state to enforce. Here in the semi-great State of Michigan, there is absolutely no way we would be allowed to do what you're doing.
 
John Gros
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Mushroom farming sounds good. I was wondering if laying the inoculated logs on your damp ground might accelerate the mushroom cycle for that log. It might even come to pass that the soil holds the spores after several logs have been used and then you only need to lay the logs there. Lots of options to try.

[bah posted too soon] Seems you already are thinking along those lines.
 
Dale Hodgins
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John Gros wrote:Mushroom farming sounds good. I was wondering if laying the inoculated logs on your damp ground might accelerate the mushroom cycle for that log. It might even come to pass that the soil holds the spores after several logs have been used and then you only need to lay the logs there. Lots of options to try.

[bah posted too soon] Seems you already are thinking along those lines.


I've done quite a bit of investigating mushroom production since starting this thread and have started another thread concerning the production of beds with exposed log ends which would be inoculated.

One YouTube video shows Shitake logs sunk into damp soil where wicking action eliminates the need to water. I have some permanently damp areas where this would work. These areas are surrounded with hardwoods of desired species and girth.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Chris Watson wrote:Dale, I truly envy you. Here in the U.S. we have a law called the Wetlands Protection Act, which is a federal law, but left to each individual state to enforce. Here in the semi-great State of Michigan, there is absolutely no way we would be allowed to do what you're doing.


All of my wet areas are man made and are narrow bands that were created when the road blocked natural drainage. There are no ducks, salamanders or other aquatic species since it dries up quite a bit in summer. Mostly red alder with a few maples and lots of salmon berries. many overgrown mounds of dirt left behind by earth moving equipment.
 
Billy Nelson
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Great stuff, Dale. There is a real sense of satisfaction from sculpting a landscape, to render it both productive and scenic. Having the right equipment to accomplish the task sure makes the attainment of the final result proceed at a more satisfying pace. That is some beautiful countryside where your property is located, looking at the pictures you've posted, so please put up more photographs as your plan unfolds there.

Funny you should mention that Dragon speech-to-text software package you just acquired. I bought a copy of Dragon a few years ago, when I dreamed of relaxing in front of my computer and dictating a best-selling novel of skulduggery and intrigue, but then I quickly discovered that on-the-fly construction of perfectly formulated sentences was considerably more challenging of a skill to develop than I had initially anticipated. After a few sessions of getting tongue-tied in front of my computer microphone, I finaly concluded that the slow pace of my hunt-and-peck typing was in fact better suited to the plodding pace at which I mentally transcribed plot elements into coherent narrative.

With the crisp and fluid prose you are reeling off with your copy of the Dragon software, I am again inspired to try my hand at that lazy man's approach to novel writing. Sorry for the slight diversion away from the topic of permaculture.
 
laura sharpe
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after reading this, i was wondering if i could cover new land with a few feet of material to compost ....anyways while googling I found this and I thought you might want this information:

http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/18_2002

it is
Environmental Management Act and Public Health Act
ORGANIC MATTER RECYCLING REGULATION
[includes amendments up to B.C. Reg. 198/2007, June 30, 2007]

I thought you said Vancouver island
 
Dale Hodgins
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Billy Nelson wrote:Great stuff, Dale. There is a real sense of satisfaction from sculpting a landscape, to render it both productive and scenic. Having the right equipment to accomplish the task sure makes the attainment of the final result proceed at a more satisfying pace. That is some beautiful countryside where your property is located, looking at the pictures you've posted, so please put up more photographs as your plan unfolds there.

Funny you should mention that Dragon speech-to-text software package you just acquired. I bought a copy of Dragon a few years ago, when I dreamed of relaxing in front of my computer and dictating a best-selling novel of skulduggery and intrigue, but then I quickly discovered that on-the-fly construction of perfectly formulated sentences was considerably more challenging of a skill to develop than I had initially anticipated. After a few sessions of getting tongue-tied in front of my computer microphone, I finaly concluded that the slow pace of my hunt-and-peck typing was in fact better suited to the plodding pace at which I mentally transcribed plot elements into coherent narrative.

With the crisp and fluid prose you are reeling off with your copy of the Dragon software, I am again inspired to try my hand at that lazy man's approach to novel writing. Sorry for the slight diversion away from the topic of permaculture.


My copy of Dragon Speech was stolen along with the a camera and valuables almost a year ago. If I still had it, I'd be an even more prolific pontificator.

Laura - I'm aware of many regulations. I will bring material to my land to mill it, to make stuff from it and to put around plants. Vine crops such as squash and melons will conceal to some degree what I'm up to. If they make me stop, I'll stop for a while and then resume in a slightly different way. Usually when I have trouble with officialdom, I prevail one way or another. It helps when we meet in person and they realize that I can become a huge drain on their time. When I began in the demolition business, I had some trouble and I ended it in a manner that suited me and ended the career of an enemy who stood in my way.
 
laura sharpe
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I am glad you knew about it, it started to make sense why they were charging so much for organic waste disposal.

I too have had the fights like you with bureaucratic types, I just sometimes dont feel like dealing with another hassle.
 
Billy Nelson
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Dale Hodgins wrote:My copy of Dragon Speech was stolen along with a camera and valuables almost a year ago. If I still had it, I'd be an even more prolific pontificator.



Ha ha the only thing worse than a talkative is being interrupted when I'm talking, as Groucho Marx would probably have said.
 
Billy Nelson
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How's that again ? You lost me on this one Mark.
 
S Bengi
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Hugelkultur are not suppose to get hot (200F),why, because that would kill most of the beneficial bacteria,microbes, worms, fungi, etc.
And you would be left with just two or so type of microbes/soil life vs thousands.

Hugelkultur are not suppose to decompose in a few months they are suppose to last 10-20 years.

If you do want it to decompose faster you are going to have to add manure to provide Nitrogen aka protein, so the soil beasties to grow fast.
Inoculating the trees with beasties is also a good idea. Just add some forest soil rich in fungus and some compost soil rich in bacteria.
Add some root crops, then let some pigs loose to mixup the soil. Regular plant roots will also penetrate the tree logs and break them up.

If you dont cover up the logs you will be left with a nice hiding place for rodents/snakes and other wildlife.

Most railroad tracks both old and new are laced with chemical to prevent weed growth and prevent track tie from rotting.
Said chemical have most likely leached to surround ares so that might affect your decomposition rate.
 
Dale Hodgins
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S Bengi wrote:Hugelkultur are not suppose to get hot (200F)

Hugelkultur are not suppose to decompose in a few months they are suppose to last 10-20 years.

If you dont cover up the logs you will be left with a nice hiding place for rodents/snakes and other wildlife.

Most railroad tracks both old and new are laced with chemical to prevent weed growth and prevent track tie from rotting.
Said chemical have most likely leached to surround ares so that might affect your decomposition rate.



I want some of mine to heat to killing temperature. I once received a steam burn from a perfectly built compost where I did a water heating experiment. Although it hurt, it was a proud moment and I was pleased with the results. I'd like do some beds that get hot enough to kill weed seeds and fungi that might compete with desirable fungi. I don't envision running a pile for 20 years since it needs to consume regular inputs of fresh wood and materials reduced in the piles will be used elsewhere. Some will contain perenials and will be topped up indefinately. Others may be tossed into a dump truck after 5 years and used as compost elsewhere on the property. So long as the desired result is achieved, I don't mind if others say it's not hugelkultur.

So maybe I've got slash piles, or big compost heaps. Once they're growing plants, I'm calling them hugelkultur but don't mind if others call them Nancy or Engelbert.

Wildlife are bound to use the beds regardless of design. I'll control rodents if they ever become a problem. There are no poisonous snakes here and our alligator lizards are harmless as well. I've already built a reptile motel from rock piles nearby. Before I made the piles on the south facing slope my reptiles were seldom seen. Now they bask in the heat of the rock piles. Both snakes and lizards are insectivores and are welcome in the garden.

The railway was built in the 1870s during resource extraction. I haven't been able to determine when it was taken out but one neighbour thinks it was around 1900. Often ties and tracks were moved to new locations after coal and logs ran out. This was a short spur line that was only a few miles from one that served for over a century. Both myself and a neighbour have over a kilometre of former railway and neither of us have found ties or other evidence of creosote or coal. Some of my big firs have a bit of charcoal bark from a long ago ground fire. None of the trees under 100 years old have burn marks. Railway engines of that time often sparked fires along their paths as they spewed sparks.
 
Dale Hodgins
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For the second year in a row, my tennants have done nothing with the beds. They are convinced that they aren't rotted enough. The upper portions are rather dry, but when I dug into the lower outer edge it was moist. All of the bark has rotted off of the alder and cotton wood in this zone. Wild plants have colonized. Fungi are visible.

It's been a cool spring but the south side of one bed has a thistle which is already 6 feet tall. It dwarfs other wild annuals found in the native soil adjacent. The tennants have a nice garden built on flat ground and a drip system to cope with 3+ months of drought which is usual for the summer. So I guess nature owns the beds for another year
 
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