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Polite Hugelkultur/raised bed combo? Needs to be 'tidy'

 
Julie Helms
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
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Can hugelkultur and raised beds methods be combined? My dh is never going to let me put a (messy) 6' high mound in the backyard. But he is fine with a raised bed. So I was thinking about building some fairly high beds (3 cinder blocks high) and then fill them with logs and brush, topped off with compost. Will that work in a similar way to traditional hugelkultur or is there a down side I'm not seeing here?
 
Lolly Knowles
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Julie, from the various threads I've been reading about hugelkulture, the downside to your idea will be the cost of the concrete blocks you use to make it look good enough to keep dh happy. Of course, if the blocks work like the rocks others used at the base of their hugelkulture mounds, there will be an upside (slightly longer growing season) to go with the down side.
 
Jesus Martinez
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Do the reverse, dig a deep hole and bury logs in it.
 
Matthew Fallon
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Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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raindog Hatfield wrote:Do the reverse, dig a deep hole and bury logs in it.


that's what i'did with all the new raised beds this year. theys eemed to do all right this season.
i put in (4) 4x25' , (3) 4x30, (2) 4x4 and (1) 4x8. dug down a foot or two filled it to ground level(or a little above) with woody debris and mulch,then covered with topsoil.
these below pics might get broken links, not sure if facebook urls are static. theyre under september,october,november albums for sure, and probably a few of the earlier spring months.
theres a link to our garden page in my signature




 
Julie Helms
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
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Wow, great pics! Thanks for posting!
 
                        
Posts: 122
Location: sub-tropics downunder
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yes julie they can,

we have been doing almost same for over a decade now, hugelkultur is nothing more than adding in chunky organic materila that may need shredding/chipping or dispoasl at the dump. we hide anything in the bottom of our beds, broken bricks, chunks of concrete tiles you name it. of course not everything breaks down

http://www.lensgarden.com.au/straw_bale_garden.htm

len
 
Julie Helms
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
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Enjoyed your site, Len, thanks!
 
Jesus Martinez
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gardenlen gardener wrote:yes julie they can,

we have been doing almost same for over a decade now, hugelkultur is nothing more than adding in chunky organic materila that may need shredding/chipping or dispoasl at the dump. we hide anything in the bottom of our beds, broken bricks, chunks of concrete tiles you name it. of course not everything breaks down

http://www.lensgarden.com.au/straw_bale_garden.htm

len


Why did you guys stop at only 1 garden bed?

Also, you should be able to get some pretty decent hosting with no hidden costs for around 15$ a month and it should include enough bandwidth to prevent unforeseen costs.
 
                        
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Location: sub-tropics downunder
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g'day raindog,

we did more than one bed we did 2 in that small yard, we have 5 more featured from earlier efforts:

http://www.lensgarden.com.au/builds.htm

on our new block we will have from 4 up to i dunno if we can afford it 8. this time we have pile of large trees pushed up ready for burning we are going to get a chain saw and cut up as much as we can to put in the new gardens. lot of work and not getting any younger.

len
 
Brian Smith
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I built 2 feet high cinder block raised beds, about 12 foot long by 3 1/2 foot wide. Built 5 of them so can rotate types of plantings to prevent build up of various pests / diseases (or so I read, anyway). I built them well, and yes it was labor intensive and even costly, but I hope to be able to use them for many, many years to come. I am using surface binding cement to hold them together rather than mortar. Almost done building them. I will use them for various seasonal / annual veggies, not really for permaculture / permanent plantings - other parts of the yard are for that.

After I got them up, I dug down deeper within them, put in logs and branches on the bottom, then lots of layers of soil, leaves, twigs, a bunch of stuff that will compost in place. The layers should combine some of the purposes of hugelkulture, sheet mulching, and should also help improve my heavy clay soil. The cinder blocks should help extend the growing season by absorbing the sun's heat in winter and by giving me a place to stick in a cold frame.

Here are a couple photos of it, though not really showing all the layers of organics I put in there:
http://www.npbrian.blogspot.com/2011/08/raised-garden-beds.html
http://www.npbrian.blogspot.com/

Brian in Portland, OR
 
Brian Smith
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.
 
Brian Smith
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.
 
Julie Helms
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
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Thanks Brian, your pictures are exactly what we had planned to do!
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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I posted about starting a project like this last year: http://www.permies.com/t/6298/permaculture/Combining-Hugelkultur-Raised-Beds-Sheet

I planted in about half of that bed in the spring--it did better in our current drought than any of our other plants (I had my doubts hearing about less than stellar experiences in the first season of a hugel bed). Am excited about the possibilities this year, with some rain collected already I think it's going to be good.

The cement blocks, as others have said, will be the costly part. If you make it out of wood my suggestion is that you make sure you have enough support. Our bed is 2 feet high and the wooden walls bowed out a lot in the last 6 months with a few staves driven along the wall as the only support. I've been adding bailing wire across the bed to help hold it together, and will probably set up more stave supports along the outside.

Have fun with it and good luck! I think it's a great idea with lots of potential.
 
Julie Helms
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
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Thanks for the referral to the earlier thread, hozomeen. There was great thoughts there too (except I couldn't see your pics and I would have loved to!)
Did you continue to have a pill bug problem with that bed?
 
Katy Whitby-last
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I have built my hugel bed in a raised bed using decking boards. You can see it in the top right of this picture (sorry for the dodgy picture - this was one I took to monitor the progress of building the retaining wall)


 
Chris Dean
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Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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Julie Helms wrote:Thanks for the referral to the earlier thread, hozomeen. There was great thoughts there too (except I couldn't see your pics and I would have loved to!)
Did you continue to have a pill bug problem with that bed?


Oops! I didn't even see that the pics weren't working, I'll have to see if I still have them.

I did continue to have pillbug problems. Asking other farmers/gardeners in the area it seems they all have pill bug problems with raised beds. I transplanted my seedlings into the bed instead of seeding directly and added Sluggo Plus. I still don't know much about Sluggo other than it's "safe" and was sold to me by my organic/native plants nursery. Even so, I don't like having to add this kind of thing to my garden, but it's a temporary fix. This year I'm working on increasing the population of frogs, lizards, and other bug eaters.
 
nancy sutton
volunteer
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Wonder if you could 'borrow' some chickens for the pillbugs?
 
Julie Helms
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
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I wonder if diatomaceous earth would work on pill bugs?
 
Rodney Ashcraft
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Location: South SC near Augusta GA
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I was wondering if it would be out of line to dig a five foot hole and bury my bed. I realize that an advantage of an above ground unit would yield in more surface area to plant in but I am in the midst of building regular beds terraced on a hillside. I would like to improve on the "old style" of architecture. I think that in interesting people in the original style of a HK bed this may be the "gateway" method. Kind of pushing people toward the "cliff edge" of what I see here on this forum.
 
Lolly Knowles
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Lots of folks bury their beds. Especially in areas with limited rainfall and low water tables.
 
Katy Whitby-last
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Lolly Knowles wrote:Lots of folks bury their beds. Especially in areas with limited rainfall and low water tables.


That's why mine are so high with our constant downpours
 
Lolly Knowles
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There is a high water table at the farm. In fact, a damaged county maintained drain line has kept a portion of the place from being usable until at least June each year. The beds we plan for the spring will be above ground.

I'm hoping to find a neighbor with some rocks to get rid of so I can use them in the sidewalls of the beds. Worst case scenario, the small town that I go to for major supplies has a highway that goes through a limestone hill. Sometimes there are largish chunks that have fallen loose, lying along the road. I could fill up the back of the pick-up each trip. At least until someone tells me I can't.

 
Mike Dayton
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Location: sw pa zone 5
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Digging down below the raised beds will serve a number of useful benefits. The main thing will be to loosen the soil and give the roots a place to spread out. Putting rotten wood etc at the bottom to hold water will work great for what you are planning and is another wonderful benefit of digging deep. Many veggies put down roots over 3 feet deep. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuse and many others have roots of 3 feet or more if the soil is loose. Also by digging deep below the raised bed and putting in wood and organic matter you can improve the soil the whole way up. Plants are just like you and me, we will survive on bread and water, but we will thrive on meat and potatos. Give them something good to eat.
 
Marianne West
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Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Julie Helms wrote:Can hugelkultur and raised beds methods be combined? My dh is never going to let me put a (messy) 6' high mound in the backyard. But he is fine with a raised bed.


check out this video by Jack Spirko. He has a bunch on the building process and how they were producing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIFB2mXTMfY&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL
 
Marsha Hanzi
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Location: NE Brazil drylands
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I have just posted a reply to these questions in the arid lads thread of the hugelkultur discussion, giving details of how we combined French intensive double-digging, making trenches, putting clay, wood, bones, and granite, to attract the roots down, then filling in the trenches with compost-enriched soil (it´s white sand here!), topping with generous layers of good-quality sheet mulch. We lined them with logs. The beds are beautiful! Any hubby would love them! They look like beds- only greener!
 
Charles Tarnard
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Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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Here's what I did. It's a little different than anything I've seen. You can decide if that's a good thing .

I threw the wood on the ground, buried it in dirt, then built a frame around it about a foot up off the ground.

I still need to cover crop that lower section with something, but next spring a bunch of annual veggies will be going there.

Edit::: stupid zombie threads

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Before filling
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After first planting
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With some growth
 
John Elliott
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Charles Tarnard wrote:
I still need to cover crop that lower section with something, but next spring a bunch of annual veggies will be going there.



Strawberries! Definitely the yummiest of cover crops. And if it feels too decadent to have all those strawberries, then you can make the lower area do double duty by interplanting the strawberries with onions.

Looks nice!
 
Charles Tarnard
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Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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John Elliott wrote:
Charles Tarnard wrote:
I still need to cover crop that lower section with something, but next spring a bunch of annual veggies will be going there.



Strawberries! Definitely the yummiest of cover crops. And if it feels too decadent to have all those strawberries, then you can make the lower area do double duty by interplanting the strawberries with onions.

Looks nice!


You know, we had this fantasy of running strawberries all along our parking strips, but our little test section is really struggling. I think we need some soil looseners planted in there, which might make it a necessity to move the strawberries somewhere else. You have given me some food for thought. Thank you.
 
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