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Digging into my 3 year old hugel

 
pollinator
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I have mentioned this hugel a few times before on the forums but by way of recap; these are built on a slight slope in heavy clay among redwoods in coastal Northern California. They are about 20' long, 3' wide, and started about 2' high. They are made primarily of semi rotty lumber that was laying around the place when I moved in along with some random firewood chunks I found on the edges of the yard and a layer of chips I got from free piles the road crews make. So primarily conifers in the mix and most of it pretty fresh.

We moved recently after our house sold to developers who want to tear it up and figure out how to get more tenants on the land, upside being they have a big project on their hands and haven't started yet. So when we made space for two new raised beds I headed back to the old house to harvest the dirt I had lovingly stewarded for 5 years in that old homes raised beds. While there I realised I should taste some of my fungal livestock from out of the hugels if possible.

By this time these hugels have largely sunk into the landscape, they are minor bumps under a foot high at this point. And without our care this year they were hosting a swath of tall grass that had gone fully to seed with a smattering of straggly brassica volunteers, still green but quite small.

Digging into them I found a few interesting things. First was that the layer of wood chips had become a mass of chips and clay-y soil held together by prominent mycelia. A really lovely substance. Second was that the natural chunks of wood were more decomposed in general than the lumber. There was some very well rotted lumber but also some that seemed nothing but a little dirtier, and all the natural chunks were well decomposed and fungally colonised. The final tidbit is that despite the soil surface being quite dry since its been a hot dry summer and no one has irrigated, the area down in the woody bits was quite moist and hosted vibrant mycelia, worms, roots, and other visible signs of life.

TL;DR even a small hugel has visible water holding benefits, coniferous wood functions in a hugel,  wood chips can find a place in a hugel, and 3 irrigated years in there is still lots of Woody debris left to break down.

Sorry no pics, wasnt planning the exploration. Inspired my love of hugels to grow though, and I'm oh so happy to have some of my fungal friends in my new garden
 
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How old was the hugel? I saw 5 years  and 3 years in your thread.

I don't have much faith in a hugel in my region, yet i have a large one (5ft tall x 100ft). I was gonna give it 3 to 5 years to see what it does. If it is not productive, i figured i created some wonderful soil that could be relocated to other areas.

The crumblyness of the logs, is it such that it could be put into an annual garden bed or would it need more time?
 
s. lowe
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wayne fajkus wrote:How old was the hugel? I saw 5 years  and 3 years in your thread.

I don't have much faith in a hugel in my region, yet i have a large one (5ft tall x 100ft). I was gonna give it 3 to 5 years to see what it does. If it is not productive, i figured i created some wonderful soil that could be relocated to other areas.

The crumblyness of the logs, is it such that it could be put into an annual garden bed or would it need more time?



hugels were 3 years old, the dirt I was mainly there to harvest was out of regular raised beds and was 5 years from being a mix of purchased and collected potting soil.

I think hugels would be troublesome in a very dry climate unless you could irrigate them heavily for the first number of years. I like them a lot in our wet climate with heavy clay soils, the technique seems to do a good job of moderating the yearly water cycle, providing more drainage during the deluge of winter and holding on to more moisture during the rainless summers
 
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