Westley Wu wrote:Paul, first of all thank you for all your Hugelkultur content on richsoil.com and here on permies! I’ve been doing weeks of reading to build our garden here in Northern California. In short I’ve spent the weekends this summer building a 25ft. long terraced / raised bed veggie garden (to defend against the multitude of rodents everywhere around us) along the contour of a pretty steep slope. Now it’s time to fill it Hugelkultur style and I’m running into issues - can you help?
We live right in the redwood forest, which is beautiful but all the recommended wood for Hugelkultur are in scarce supply naturally for acres in each direction. And the local firewood companies only sell Oak, Almond, Walnut, and Eucalyptus. The same goes for the litter/branches/twigs layer - most tree company cuttings are California Pepperwood, Oak, Bay Laurel, or some sort of coniferous tree. All of the above are highly allelopathic, which is the challenge I’m facing.
So far I’ve managed to find a few dead Maple limbs but that’s all, and logs on the forest floor that are well decomposed so I collected them thinking they’d be OK, I think most of them are Oak. I’ve resorted to putting freshly felled Oak logs on the bottom, then the decomposing maple and oak logs. Am wondering if that will produce fertile soil for vegetables? or will the Oak stunt all our plant growth? And what should I use for litter? I have a truckload of woodchips from a local tree company that’s been decomposing for 1-2 years, it was “green” (with leaves) which they said was a mix of oak and other trees. Nothing grows out of the pile though...but I do see strands of white fungus mycelium growing to a depth of ~6” and the twigs deep down have moisture and easily break in my hands vs. “snapping” or being sharp like fresh woodchips. Would this be a good next layer for the Hugel bed?
Or can I use the overly abundant redwood litter? We have a 2 year old compost pile (about a cubic yard) but the brown matter has largely been redwood litter (we were not aware of allelopathy until this summer, and besides we don’t have any other brown matter around). Is it a good idea to add this compost on top of the wood and litter layers? I would remediate 50/50 w the clay soil I dug up from the postholes and then use purchased topsoil.
Would greatly appreciate your expert thoughts and ideas! Anyone else who’s on the forum, we’d also welcome your feedback!
Lauren Ritz wrote:
Did I do something wrong, or am I right in determining that this isn't a good option for an arid climate?
Jonathan Ward wrote:So for things that grow on the top of the Hugel is it ok to just climb to the top and pick them? Or in the case of something like sunchokes just climb up, turn the soil to get the tubers then pat it back into place? Obviously, if i have one central path up to minimize trampling might be better or some form of scaffolding?
paul wheaton wrote:Over the last five years this seems to be the thing that I am having the hardest time describing to people.
Please build your hugelkultur beds in layers. Some wood, then some soil, then some wood, then some soil, etc.
Please do no make a pile of wood and then heap dirt on top of that.
Westley Wu wrote:As promised, sharing photos of the completed Hugel, just in time for the rainy season. Hoping to plant fruit trees on the slope above, but worries the gophers will kill them. Next up is the deer fence.
Westley Wu wrote:Thank you Mike
What did you mean by backing up after planting garlic too deep?
Tyler Ludens wrote: I have had much better success with buried wood beds, which, while they did not eliminate the need for irrigation, significantly reduced it.
Dc Brown wrote:Cut your privet tree so that 1 foot of it is protruding from the ground. Wait a couple of months and new shoots form. Remove them. Repeat. Two years later the tree is dead. If you leave nothing protruding the tree will grow off the root system and create a far worse problem. Landscaping practise is to level the stumps, this is problematic.
paul wheaton wrote:Plus - is that air between the wood? There should not be air between the wood - it should all be soil. I've seen people doing that too - where they make a pile of wood and then put soil on that. There should be heaps of soil on wood contact.
paul wheaton wrote:Lots of growies right away helps to hold the soil upright.
Also, longer logs and branches on the inside helps.
Also, making those longer logs and branches on the inside go side-to-side sometimes (not always just lengthwise) helps.
This video does a great job of explaining "angle of repose" and how to counter it
The reinforcement material in our case is the wood.