Toby Hemenway recommends stacking compostable materials on top of brush so that there will be both the ample organic material plus the heat from composting to encourage plant growth (and I would add, extend the growing season). If you have a mix of different materials like pictured here, it seems to make sense to time stack it in a way that makes the more available organic material closest to the surface. As the pile ages and shrinks, the pile could still offer most of the same profile to the roots as when it was a new Hugelkulture bed.
If you are doing Hugelkulture and have a mix of materials, would this be the best way to stack them?
I put juniper and oak logs in the bottom of my buried wood beds (hugelkultur for dry climates) and make the final wood layer of rotten oak and elm logs, with twigs. Over that I put sheep poo and waste hay and sometimes chicken poo and shavings, sometimes with leaves. Topped with soil.
I was thinking about that concept as well. Underneath the hardwood that is still green i was thinking of putting black locust. By the time the bed has sunk down and most has decomposed then the locust would just be getting started. Of course you could also use dead locust then green under that. I'm sure it could get extremely detailed if we know all the decomposition rates of all the woods around us. That would be interesting to know and i haven't actually looked into it to see if it's common knowledge. That would be awesome to set up a bed that your grandchildren could be using. Thats hoping they want to take the same path and not move to larger cities as alot do in my area.
Locust is about 4% fungicide by weight. It is likely to negatively affect the entire little ecosystem just as cedar and walnut do. I have mountains of cedar available but have avoided it in favour of maple, alder and cottonwood. So what if it all rots. Now you have dsoil in that area. Add more.
A big bed that I built 16 years ago has retained 60% of it's volume. It has big Douglas fir stumps at it's base. Didn't know it as hugelkultur at the time. Simply wanted to burry stumps and retain water in rock garden.
I dig a big hole, about 18 to 24 inches deep, and fill it with logs, rather than piling the material on the surface. So it isn't literally "hugelkultur." Generally I've planted the beds immediately, though the ones I'm working on lately won't be planted for a month or more.
We're blessed in that we have a nice South facing slope of mostly granite with a regenerating forest growing up it. There are a number of Poplar trees that have reached the end of their life (i.e. they are big and the growth coming up under them is killing them and most of their shoots). My plan (now) is to cut those Poplar trees up, roll them down the slope into ridges and mounds that run parallel to the slope and then pile on the branches and brush that I took off the hill a few years ago. Then I'll dredge muck out of the Beaver pond across my lane way and pile that on top. Obviously I'm going to have more luck that the first shot I had at this which was using old Poplar logs for "retaining walls" and letting the (cruddy) soil accumulate behind them.
This is an excellent find, thanks!
much of what my neighbours consider to be good I consider to be bad
That sounds like a great idea Dave, the plan should work well for you. The sandy loom from the beaver pond will make good soil in time but you might find that what looks like good black dirt does not have much if any organic matter in it at all. The sandy sediment that washed down stream and the silt in the bottom of that beaver pond may not grow much unless you improve it with mulch. It will allow the roots to expand easily, but may not give them as much to eat as you might think it should. Good luck with the project, I do think it will work for you, the rotting logs and brush will definately hold the water the plants need and the addition of organic matter should do the rest.
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