Here my design for the allotment,
Although I have outlined what each bed is to have in it, ie perrenials, maincrop, etc all the beds are actually going to be stacked to hell, ill have lots of different mixes in that go well with one another,
Where I plan to have the olive tree I plan to use rocks and the pond to increase the temperature and humidity of the microclimate there, and I will attempt some sort of citrus there but well change to something different if its not suitable.
I am hoping not to have to water utilising the syphonic action of the hugelkultur - well raised beds, I will stack them as suggested for hugel they will be about 3=4 feet tall, and have any runoff to keep the pond / dam at the bottom well filled up, I might even get some lilies and reeds in the after a while.
for pond construction I am going to try and use a whacker plate to cause compaction and keep pouring water in and whacker away, fpr those that dont know what that is its like a real heavy nuematic road tamper design for wacking down aggregate for laying concrete or tarmac.
if this dont work I will use special pond clay and be done with it.
im hoping to use the walkways inbetween the raised beds and plant with jerusalem arties and lots of plants that chickens live and tha attract lots of insects. I chicken run will be like the old victorian type with wheels on one end and handles the other so i can heard the chickens in and wheel them around inbetween the beds so they can do there thing, eats new shoots, weeds and insect and poo everywhere. im hoping to keep them fedd with just things I grow and attract here but i will look more into that.
here it is:
I have taken photos of every layer to put on here. i didnt have any large logs so my main bed is made up of branches from 6 inches to 2 inches to twigs, so after each layer i put in a layer of sraw and horse manuer to help the composting, the horse manuer is fresh so it will compost for a long time.
i have now included up right gardens to increase my surface area and strawberry and salad yield, this will free up alot of space for perenial vegetables and also annuals.
photos of hugel culture to follow, but like i said its only half done so far.
I am also going to put some upright tubes with 2 inches holes drilled in the bottom and around the bottom edge to have composting worms in so Ill have more nutrients that way and its will be pretty nice, I can feed them and let them poop all in my hugelkultur.
I also have some medium sized ash branches left that im going to build integral to the bed so as you look at the bed it will look like there are 3 small trees sticking out the top, only they wont get leaves.
I will hang bird feed to these to encourage birds to use them as perches , the theory is they will poo on my hugelkulture and feed nutrients into the bed, , I will only use small branches to encourace smaller birds, i dont want big bird poo everywhere. Im hoping them that these small birds then will see the insects etc thatare available to them below.
between the worms, then legumes, the comfrey, the end of season mulch and the birds thats all the nutrients it will need.
Are you sure you can grow olives and citrus in England?
Make you next allotment plan to scale. Your fruit trees may block more light than you think. Draw them the size they'll be full grown.
Not sure if you've removed the mulberry but the kind I purchased needs lots of room (like 25').
Also, it's funny that people complain about not having big logs for their hugelkulture beds. I have tons of huge logs from logging 6 years ago that the logger left laying around, but no way to move them. I can't imaging paying someone to come up with a tractor and move them, maybe one day.
you bought up someinteresting points, that to be honest echo my own thougts, please lok at the second download, its my allotment plan in paint and has completely changed!!!
I have decided now to leave out the olive tree, firstly because they cost alot of money, secondly because although they do grow and fruit they dont yiled great in england, it is my goal to have a fully yielding olive tree in england, i dont thinkn here is the place for it.
The fruit trees I am getting on dwarf stocks and hope to train them so i have the shade where I want it, I am putting them in posts in side the beds, the pots will have holes in so worms and beneficial microbes can still get in, but I want to have the ability to take them away once I get my own place to grow.,
The citrus I am going to do as an experiment, I know they grow in greenhouses here ok, we get quite mild weather where i am as im on the most south easternly coast of england, also im hoping the heat from the hugel kutlture mixed with heat and humidity generated from rocks and the pond might just see it through, Sepp grows citrus up in the mountains of austria and it gets crazy cold there. I think if I plant a citrus and make a photo diary of it, and pulll it off, it could help people in the temperate climate to do the same, even my failings would educate and who knows with the input of peeps here, it might work.
Mulberries hmmm I realise now that some of my goals for berries might not be possible. I am going to try something done that end, but im not sure. I plan to grow upright / vertical strawberries, in fact my upright graden will almost equal the surface area of half my allotment whilst only taking up a fraction of the space, the downside of this is that this is often doen by hydroponics and does require watering which isnt totaly sustainable. On a larger piece of land I would ofset this by watering with water generated by dams, however there is no dams on the allotment so I am going to have to use water from the waterbutts.
My allotment is actually my uncles, he has medical problems and feels he can no longer do the upkeep of digging and the normal hard work of allotment growing, I think it will be a great idea to build this allotment so someone of failing health can still manage it, ie no dig spuds, hugel and other no dig beds that produce fruit and veg in abundance. Once I have done a PDC, I hope to then refine the allotment over the next few years and then use it as an example of permaculture on a small scale, as an introduction on how people can do this in there own back gardens.
by the way i have no intention of putting in gorse now, although I think this is a great plant, i think it a little to hostile for a small allotment.
I managed to ge tthe pictures on my hugel up and running, its a bit of a funny story. The wood I used is Ash, which I got from a guy cutting down in my local town and also my back garden. The problem you have in England now is Wood burners have come back in a big way, you know fuel here is £1.44 a litre thats over £7 a gallon which is crazy, gas and electricity prices are at a all time high,alot of people paying over £100 a month just to heat there homes.
Wood is now a resource that comes at a prices, anythin big enough to fit into the wood burners and bigger gets sold.
I done my layers of this bed different to normal and at present its only half way through. Because I had only limited wood, I need to utilise all the really small thin stuff I had, so I decided to use that first to boost up the size of the bed, then i added the bigger wood to act as a sponge. between each layer of wood, i added a layer of straw and horse manuer, the horse manuer is reasonably fresh to half way mixed, the reason for this is because I relly want to to continue to decompose and heat the bed aswell as provide fertilization.
I done it this way so there would still be air trapped in the bed, but also so the soil wouldnt just wash down inbetween my wood, as its smaller stuff im using instead of logs.
Heres where i got to so far, but weather has stopped play right now. the photos are medium size because I took them on my phone, I will endevour to use a camera from now on.
Good pics. I've also been gripped by the permaculture bug in 2011! Just like you I was keen to try a hugel so built one last Oct on my allotment. I was wondering what you were planning on growing on yours? Seen lots of suggestions but not for a UK climate
Thanks for your reply mate. Well to be honest I am still in the planning mode.
At climax I would like it to be full of good yielding perrenial plants with some annuals and legumes etc, but if i am being honest, I am seeing perenial plant list, and im hearing that there great eating etc, but i havent eaten them and I havent cook them and I know very little about harvesting them, but I know thats the direction I need to go in for sustainability. So it is my goal to get these in this year and start my adventure on that route, but until im a fully fledge perrenial grazer I need to grow some of the normal stuff im used to cooking and eating.
I plan to completely stack the bed to start with nitrogen fixers, mainly clover and lupin, so as soon as the weather warms im literally going to plant the whole bed with everything everywhere in companion clumps. at climax there will only be some of these probably on the top of the bed running all the way along, so when i prune them and they self prune root, the nutrient gets wash down into the other plants roots.
Im going to plant the plants in groups throughout the bed, im still researching guilds for companion planting, so i will have clumps of 3 -4 odd species.
I am going to plant a sacrificial row of pot marigolds along the bottom of the bed aswell as sporadically throughout the bed, I heard that slugs prefer to eat these over most veg etc and also they are a bee plant and also attract Hoverflies which are great predators!!
other insect and bee plants im going to introduce will be white and purple dead nettle,poached egg plant, foxglove and dandelion, pignut, fennel, lemon balm. some of which have other uses, as mulch etc.
im going to put just about every veg i eat apart from potatoes, putting each species with its companion species.
for example~ carrots with coriander or onion.
interesting enough I am going to try the carrots quit high up on the bed because an old boy told me carrot flies only fly up to an height of around 40 cm I dont know if thats try LOL.
to give you some more names to look up soe other I have pencilled on a list are, sorrel chickweed siberian purslane burdock honesty daffodil garlc perrenial leak good king henry lung wort.
some of these will have a place on the allotment but because of the size they might have to wait until I have a bigger area, or I might put them ate the wilderness end near the beehive, or just on the ground where the chicken tractor will go over.
veggies that im going to grow include, onion carrots spuds in no dig bed, separate, sweet potato butternut squash, beetroot, sweetheart cabbage, tomatos, lettuce in vertical garden, ill mix some herbs in there aswell additional to my herb spiral,
i think it will take a few years to refine, and observe and really see what wants to be where, Ill pretty much just put everything everywhere and see where it flurishes and then let it decide where they want to be the next year.
im happy to not have as high yield aslong as my bed is absolutley self running regarding food, water/moisture etc. at best Ill help it out with some straw mulch, after a year im hopeing is can manage on its own.
I hope this gives ya some ideas mate.
sorry in advance for my crap spelling and gramma, my fat fingers hit about three bottons at a time and when i type i get excited and jumble words and thoughts togther!!!lol
Hognut - Excellent! I've never come across that before. Thanks for the reply and don't worry about "big finger" typos!
Regarding citrus, I've been looking at planting Japanese Bitter Orange - hardy to -20 Celsius - as root stock for grafting 'normal' oranges to to make them more cold hardy. I've seen mixed views on the benefits of using the Bitter Orange fruit but it's always worth experimenting. I imagine that, in the South East, you'll get fairly good results. Not sure how I'd fair here in South Wales... I need to work on some microclimates I guess.
As for blueberries I was intending to use coniferous timber (we may have access to a bunch of spruce) for a hugel bed to raise the acidity in various locations on our land. We do have slightly acidic soil anyway on a fair bit of our land judging by what's growing there but not close to the house. It would be interesting to hear how they do on your hugel bed, Mike.
Anyway, thanks for the interesting thread!
Thanks for the info on the bitter orange, thats give me something to research. its funny you mention doing that with the pine because I have a scots pine tree in the garden that I gotta take out and I thought about using it for the blueberries, I didnt know though if they would affect the ground too much, so I also thought about just getting loads pine needless to put onto and into the ground where I plant the blueberries. I think that because its just a small allotment it might create an issue whereas if i had a field that Id do that definately. I bet there is a whole range of plants that love and acid soil that would really benefit a diverse garden.
Its a shame really because there is so much wood coming off the pine, I might use it for building things instead, some sort of natural chicken tractor but thats a whole different thread.
How tall is your hugelkultur? Im hoping get mine real high so I can really so and get a good understanding just how they work and what there strengths and weaknesses are.
Any way im off for now, thanks for your input, ill post more piccies as I go on but as for now Snow has stopped play.
My bed is under snow but will post some pics once thawed! As I'm on an allotment I didn't think my neighbours would welcome a 5ft hugelkultur casting shadow over their plot, so I dug a deep trench first (2ft or thereabouts) and filled this with old wood. This was the hardest part of construction believe me! Toby Hemenway in "gaia's garden" terms this a dead wood swale. Continued to build above ground so although my hugel is only 2.5 ft tall, it is actually 4 ft deep at least. Because I had to lay it running east to west, I hope this will also allow more light onto the north facing slope (Hope that makes sense).
As far as the acidity question goes, I reckon any decaying wood is going to up this so I don't think this will be a problem for the blueberry bushes. If anything, there is a risk of it romping too far into the acid range and I'm going to have to monitor this as the season progresses.
Citrus! You.re brave! I can confirm from personal experience that Japanese bitter orange is called this for a very good reason! I'm not going to tell you what to grow but there are always other options to explore. For me personally, citrus in the UK seems like high work input - low satisfaction output. Having said that, a few years ago I went to look at Geoff Hamilton's gardens at Barnsdale and remember he had both Clementines and Limes, outside, and fruiting well. He also had nectarines and peaches outside. I will have to go back and look at the siting and microclimates with new "permaculture" eyes.
Snow has stopped play here too, so I'll be back with pics of the site and Hugel once it's visible again.
Your question is a very good one! It's a pretty goodnatured site. I'm expecting the odd raised eyebrow from the "veg grows in rows or not at all" brigade, but sometimes that attitude is just a result of where people are with their own learning. Even I love a nice straight row of carrots! Many people seem to vanish from their plots after September so most of the folks haven't encountered the Hugel yet! So it remains to be seen what people think (someone did ask me if I'd buried a dead horse under the bed!). As it's my first time growing on a Hugel I am very excited to see how well it will perform. I suppose some may struggle with the idea that the Hugel will take several years to reach it's full potential - But for me, slow is good.
Have you ever used one Jean?
Now....Does anyone know where I can get another dead horse from?
I have put my plan there but to be honest, I know it will change as I go, because im not an expert at Permaculture, so mine will be the changes made by observation, I imagine that the allotment will start off like my plan then evolve into a much different animal.
To answer Jean, well If im honest to start with I didnt tell anyone my intentions, humans are WAY to anal to change even if it is a better idea or more sustainable.
When I took over the plot the first thing I did was fill it with tree trunks branches and small sticks, to prepare for the bed, the guys up there thought I was dumping wood from a Gardening business as this guy, me, kept turning up and dumping wood on the plot.
Some guy made a joke about burning it and then I realized they were concerned. The allotment care taker was starting to ask question so I lent him my sepp holzer permaculture book and bookmarked the page on hugelkultur.
this gave me some breathing space because then he understood, his opinion was Ill believe it when I see it.
From other allotment keepers, they was almost an uncomfortable skepticism, and some of them seemed almost mad at me for doing something different, and as each one came over to "see what was going on" it was obvious to me that the question I was being asked were ones of a general concern coming from multiple people so as not to make my feel any one person had an issue.
Well, I am one of these people that in a real life situation im hard not to love, I always have a smile on my face even with is cold and wet and im grafting, and soon my lively happy persona started to make them relax, which told me that they liked me as a person but wasnt sure on my plan for the space.
To be honest there ONLY worry is the "Weeds" that I will have on there. anything else doesnt really affect or concern them. I knew if I could get over that I would be alright.#
Firstly I visited another guys allotment, and saw he had alot of dandelions, I asked him if I could try to transplant them to my allotment, and then asked if I could pick them all the year through. he was over the moon at the thought of me periodically taking his weeds. The truth is I will have some dandelions but I have a friend with a tortoise and he is always after stuff for them and alot of our weeds are good tortoise food.
As each one voiced a concern for a given plant I gave an calm reason for why it is good to have, I even made the suggestion that they have the benefit of me having the plants to attract the predators and there plots get the benefit.
Very very very quickly skeptics became intrigued and interested, in the end they was helping me drag the branches from the gate to my plot which is about 100 metres as im the second allotment from the end.
much of the opinion now is that they are really wanting to see these theories work, I heard one person say that atleast he a nice guy, there is a guy on there does everything the right way but no one likes, I dont know why.
To ne the allotment is as much about the community, Theres one old boy that likes to show the fooding competition, so I told him he could take any great specimens for the show if he liked, but only on the condition that if any of mine won, he had to tell them that no fertilizer was used and the allotment that it was grown on was designed using principles of permiculture.
We are not allowed to put Permiculture by our work unless we do a PDC which I intend to do this year, but once I have doen this, I do intend to use the plot as an example of how food can be grown on a small space sustainably,
Although once I done the pdc I think I might change alot of things. it will be good to see, I am going to keep a diary of the whole thing by each month after set up on here. you could to Mike.
thats all for now
Mike Woodhouse wrote:
. . . . Have you ever used one Jean?
No, I'm really new to this site and my only knowledge of hugelkultur comes from a dozen hours of reading here. I'm the kind of person who might, though, when I've learned more. My growing is on my private land though, so I'm interested that you aren't having more disapproval from your gardening neighbours as my concept of the social life of an British allotment setup is that its a pretty conservative community. Maybe that's an out of date concept, though and also maybe you're especially convincing with your enthusiasm.
Peter Fishlock wrote:Thanks for the info on the bitter orange, thats give me something to research.
Mike Woodhouse wrote:Citrus! You.re brave! I can confirm from personal experience that Japanese bitter orange is called this for a very good reason! I'm not going to tell you what to grow but there are always other options to explore. For me personally, citrus in the UK seems like high work input - low satisfaction output. Having said that, a few years ago I went to look at Geoff Hamilton's gardens at Barnsdale and remember he had both Clementines and Limes, outside, and fruiting well. He also had nectarines and peaches outside. I will have to go back and look at the siting and microclimates with new "permaculture" eyes.
Aye, I've heard/read of mixed results about Bitter Orange; on the one hand it ain't that good to eat but on the other you can make marmalade out of it. On the SWOG forum a bloke responded to my question about cold hardy citrus in the UK by saying:
SWOG Forum wrote:A few years ago I got excited by the idea of cold tolerant citrus. Yes you can grow them outside. Yes you can get them to fruit. No!!! you wouldn't want to eat any of them. I had one variety of satsuma and one hybrid orange/kumquat that were just, just about possible to eat, but nowhere approaching pleasant. Everything else I bought was just truly horrible. Even marmalade made from them was disgusting. I think it's worth bearing in mind that the optomistic descriptions you read about them are written by real enthusiasts... I don't want to be the one to put a downer on your citrus hopes, but really don't waste the time, money or enthusiasm on it. By all means grow a couple of the trifoliate orange (poncirus trifoliata) for the novelty, but cold tolerant citrus of any real value just haven't been bred yet that tolerate our climate. (By that I mean our maritime climate - there are some very cold tolerant citrus that are decently edible that can take winter temperatures much colder than we get here, but they have problems remaining properly dormant in our relatively warm winters, making them very suscetible to even light frosts. In terms of them setting fruit our summers are to cool for it to ripen propery. My point being that it's no good just looking at what minimum winter temperature a variety can take, that's all very well in a continental climate of very cold winters and hot summers - you need something that can take relativey warm winters and relatively cool summers.)
Peter Fishlock wrote:its funny you mention doing that with the pine because I have a scots pine tree in the garden that I gotta take out and I thought about using it for the blueberries, I didnt know though if they would affect the ground too much, so I also thought about just getting loads pine needless to put onto and into the ground where I plant the blueberries. I think that because its just a small allotment it might create an issue whereas if i had a field that Id do that definately. I bet there is a whole range of plants that love and acid soil that would really benefit a diverse garden.
I'm sure that pine needles would have the same effect on soil - I read about it this morning in the Earth Care Manual by Pat Whitefield in fact. We have acidic soil in places anyway so maybe I wouldn't even have to 'create' acidic soil. I dunno, something I'll look into more I guess. If you wanted to contain the acidic soil on your small allotment maybe a raised bed would do the job?
Peter Fishlock wrote:How tall is your hugelkultur? Im hoping get mine real high so I can really so and get a good understanding just how they work and what there strengths and weaknesses are.
I've not built any beds yet, just planning to do so in the future. It will depend on how much wood I can get hold of really... I'd probably follow Sepp's advice on the matter. Actually, my neighbor is having a large, 100 year old oak taken down (rotten stems, tangled in phone wires, potential damage to vehicles/road/fences) this week and we'll be getting a fair chunk of timber from it. Might see if I can earmark some for a smallish hugel bed instead of firewood!
that old rotten Oak sounds perfect, it willalready be quite sponge and have some of the things in it to help the breaking down of it.
Jean, I must admit with regards to the Allotment Politics, I have been lucky with regard to the allotment i am on, It IS quite relaxed, for example, people keep chickens ducks and one guy even has a turkey!!! this on alot of allotment would not be allowed, also people have made there own sheds type shacks and even sit up there in an evening having a beer and eating produce cooked on a fire, which as i understand it would also be a bit of a no no on most places.
Also one guy has made his own green house out of a pvc conservatory he had taken down as he runs his own building business, he has sat it on bricks and mortor but there is no foundations. Actually it looks pretty cool and works extremely well.
So I could see from the start the it would be more achiveable here, One of the reason I thought I could get away with it really, so on that score im lucky. but to be honest, apart from planting "weeds" that might spread on others allotment I cant see why any old busy body would have an issue, it is all about how you explain it.
For example: when I presented it to the allotment manager when asked, I said that It was important to me that after a year that my allotment was totally sustainble only being watered from what water I get from the allotment, that I use no organic and chemical fertilizer. Then after he had laughed and said Id like to see how you do that, thats when I said with nitrogen fixing plants, which ofc most people have heard of but only as far as crop rotation on a small allotment scale not a permanant resident. I didnt to begin with come out with all the different species, of plant I let the seeds I planted in his brain germinate to the point where he wants to se how this is done regardless of my clover.
I Also explained hugelkultur using the surface area as an argument, saying its 5 feet wide, so when i raise it 6 feet it will be about 5 feet or more tall on either side therefor doubling my surface area and growing space. I explained the composting action giving longer growing times, and also something i heard on this guy called mike who is a permaculture guru, he said for every 5 degrees the bed tilts its equivalant to that plant be 150 miles south. on top of that I added after a year it should hold enough water to see itself through each summer. I had made some pretty outlandish claims to this that has sparked so much curiosity that they dont really care about the 2 tonnes of timber I just buried.
Also what a result to find a place where I can have chickens!!!
on the other hand, my neighbour who is a mate, has an allotment on the otherside of town, it has to look immaculate, all produce has to be in neat equal lines, only one small greenhouse per plot and one small shed for tool storage.
Honestly it makes me want to vomit, how humans can be sooo anal, and neat as they walk themselves to oblivion, "come on lads nice equal neat lines so when the tax offcie decide they want to tax us for the plants we grow they can count accurately" how long until they want us to measure the rain water we harvest and pay for that!!!
sorry for that rant
So I went to the alotment today and the south eastern side of the bed had no snow at all on it. I put more branches and sticks on ready for chopping and collected more horse poo then called it a day when I couldnt feel my fingers and toes.
Im excited about getting it finished. Roll on some nice weather.
Ok all snow is gone for now, all rants are over (I put it down to winter rage!!).
So I have done a few more layers to my hugel and its nearly there. I have added the 3 tree branches standing up which I am going to attach bird food, hopefully this will encourage them to poo on my bed and eat insects. I hoping they will also just start to use them as regular perches.
You might also notice in the middle a new Worm composting house.
I have drilled 1 1/2 inches holes all the way around in two layers aswell as the bottom. I going to use this as a feature of my system as a way of desposing of myexcess vegetable matter, to one stop pollution and two feed my plants with ultra nutritious worm castings. Hooray.
Its all good.
heres the pics