Ok, so I think I have completed my biggest hugelkulture bed to date. I did it all by hand. It is probably 30 feet long by 4 feet wide. I started by laying some fallen timber down on the grass. It was probably 3 feet wide when done. Then I laid down garden waste on top of that. The wood was pretty much covered. Then I put down a thick layer of fresh horse manure. After that, a layer of this fall's fallen leaves. Then I finished it off with a thinner layer of aged horse manure. All this was free to me so I have only fuel cost associated in the transport of the manure. I hope to plant potatoes and squashes in this bed.
My question is come spring can I plant directly in the manure or I do I need to put a good layer of soil down? The pile hasn't settled at all and is probably a bit over 3 feet high now.
You'd better put some soil over the top of the manure. And maybe plant something else in it this first year. Potatoes don't do well in manure -- they tend to get scab. Squash will produce more leaves than fruit. I would suggest maybe planting just a few of each to see what happens, then finish the bed out with leafy crops like kale or spinach or? Whatever normally grows well in your climate. Green leafy vegetables do well in manure and compost piles.