I would like to made a bed from a tree that needs to come out, but I had some concerns about attracting unwanted pests with the rotting wood. Last year I got fresh chips from the local arborist that I made a mulch layer with, and this late summer/fall I noticed that a colony of carpenter ants had become very busy in the yard. Wouldn't a hugelkultur bed just encourage them more? I have a 1907 Craftsman house, I don't want them deciding to eat that instead! My Google search for any possible problems with hugelkultur hasn't come up with very useful, so I thought I'd throw it to the Permie wolves.
In my opinion the hugelkultur is more likely to lure carpenter ants and termites AWAY from your house, because of being more attractive to them than the sound dry wood of your house.
Personally I would avoid putting hugelkultur close to the house. If you have a small yard, putting hugel beds on the edges of the yard farthest from the house would be safest, in my opinion. I have buried wood beds about 15 feet from my house.
fresh raw logs wont heat up too much, partially rotting logs and lots of weeds and brush in a hugel bed will though. enough to keep rats, mice, ants and such out. at least from my experience, and since i live in the forest, we have lots of each.
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
aman inavan wrote:I don't know the answer but it brought up another question
Could you build a hugelkultur bed over a tree stump instead of labouring to remove a stump
This makes me think of a thought I have been kicking around:
It seems from what I have read that people are using long hugelkultur mounds across a slope as a kind of swale or terrace. In my vision, the mounds would be slightly off-contour to move runoff across the slope in a determined direction, with water running downslope at the far end and being "caught" by the next downhill "hugeldike", which would direct it back across the slope to the other edge of the area being developed.
The overall effect being a longer and slower zig-zagging runnoff path for water. More time to soak rainwater into the soil and there is a long exposure of running water to the hugeldikes, which absorb a maximum of water during each rain.
I realise that this is not an orrigional idea, but when I envision this, I picture doing it on a newly cleared patch of sloped forrest, having wood and stumps in place. The stumps would be incorpoirated into the hugeldikes, with the largest logs laid against the stumps on the uphill side so that the fresh stumps and their root structure would act as stakes or footings to prevent the waterlogged hugel dikes from collapsing downhill. Of course eventually both logs and stumps would lose their mechanical strength due to decay, but by then the hugel dike would have settled and become more dense and the root structure of whatever is planted on the slope would be present to stabillise the soil.
I immagine that by successively clearing and building a dike system as I descrribe and re-planting with trees, the slope could be made terraced after several generations of this treatment. New trees would be planted just downhill of each dike, becoming "stakes" for the old dike as they grew and providing the same service to the next generation of dikes.
The terraces which would result would have an extreme depth of high-organic-matter soil on their plantible faces.
+1 for rotting underground wood drawing pests and termites away from wooden house. I also recommend broad polyculture in the hugel, i.e. Random seedcasting over the whole thing. The seeds will decide where they will do best, and the diversity will naturally deter pests. My most vigorous plants have been in this scenario. I have a serious carpenter ant population in one section of one hugel, but there has been no adverse effects to the vegetation or to the surrounding structures.
As for building hugels on contour - Paul and others STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST COUNTOURED HUGELS, as unanchored wood is basically a large flotation device. In significant rainful, contoured hugels will float away, carrying soil and garden with it, and likely causing very significant damage on the process.
What you may consider is building swales directly on contour, then hugels perpendicular to these between the swales. This will provide safe water catchment from the swales, and hugelkulturing benefits in between. Best of both worlds.
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