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Hugelkultur Beds On Contour, And Other Questions.

 
Andrew Michaels
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Hey guys.

It is necessary or desirable to build Hugelkultur beds on contour?

I'm thinking of helping someone add a hugelkultur bed to a rather traditional vegetable garden on a slight slope (see attached photo).

I'm wondering about placement within this garden, and whether it would offer significant benefit to build the hugelkulture bed on contour.

The garden is in Connecticut, so sun is lacking for much of the year except the summer, when rainfall slackens. The garden traditionally needs irrigation at least four days a week during the summer or else the plants begin to wilt.

I Imagine that a hugelkultur bed will reduce irrigation requirements, but I'm wondering if there would be significant benefit to building it on contour, which would screw with the traditional "straight line beds," that have been used here.

That's fine with me, but somewhat of an objection that would need to be overcome for the person that owns the garden.

Any input on placement, alignment, whether it should be buried or above ground, as well as shape (straight row?) and size are welcome.

Thanks.

P.S. You can see in the pic that there's a stone wall placed above the garden (higher up the slope). This was created a few years ago from rocks dug out of the garden. It already catches a significant amount of the organic debris coming down slope. Not sure about how much water it catches, but I wonder if there's a lot of water leftover for a contour-line hugelculture bed.







Garden.jpg
[Thumbnail for Garden.jpg]
Garden Shot
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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I'm doing my hugelkulture beds on contour. It's a great way to slow water and store it in the landscape which seems like it would be a great benefit to you. I think this topic was also tackled in the Hugelkulture forum, so you might want to check that out too, though it's a pretty long thread so it may take some time. Jack Spirko from the survival podcast has a few videos of his beds which I think he just started this year. Hope this helps a little.
 
Peter Fishlock
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Hi,

Sepp says to put them at a slight diagonal goign down the hill so the water all doesnt get held up in the first bed, Dont forget there designed as sponges so if you are doing any number they will very quickly suck up the water.

if your only having one them I dont spose it will matter aslong as your not trying to gather any amount of water below.

in the picture in his book he has them at almost a 40 degree angle stagered going down the hill.

hope this helps

 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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I have a similar situation to what you are dealing with, a level traditional garden set up for rows. I have been double digging a section of the garden each year for some years now and sifting out large rocks and adding organic matter to improve the sub soil and moisture holding capacity of the sub soil. I knew nothing about Hugelculture but I was putting a large layer of leaves on the bottom of each section for the same reason, to hold mosture. I came up with that theroy on my own it turns out. I have simce made a hugelculture bed in one section and it worked well.



I dug down as far as I could through the cap stone rock on my hill



I try for 36" but in this section 28" was as deep as I could dig

I put down wood chips, then logs, then filled in around them with wood chips



Then the sub soil was sifted and put back in with layers of leaves and soil



When it was all back in the hole I put the top soil back on top and planted tomatos in that section.

I am also using the larger rocks from the garden to build a small wall and the rest of the smaller rocks as fill to extend a level area near my fire ring.


The progam has worked very well for me. I do not water the garden at all after planting. The tomatos grew great, and the green beans that were in the improved section were much bigger and healthier than the rest of that row in an unimproved section.
 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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I am sorry I forgot the picture of the logs in the hugelbed.



The addition of the organic matter down deep and the loosening of the soil and removal of large rocks, [ my screen will remove most rocks down to a quarter, a nickle or dime will go through ] Has given the plant roots somewhere to go and provided nutrients as well as water. I am sure it isn't the only way, but it is one way, and it works very well for me. I have not tried to do the entire garden at once, I just do a 10' X 10' section every year. Now that I have more time since I retired I am doing 2 sectiuons a year. I hope to be done befor I am 70,
 
Peter Fishlock
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Hey mike that looks really good, nice pics mate!!!


 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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i believe that it depends on each situation ..too many variables.

all my hugel beds so far were much smaller than those suggested in these articles, simply cause I had to do all the earth moving by hand..and am old and crippled up..but I have a plan this year to try to move 3 cresecent shaped areas of Jerusalem artichokes (i know good luck, but they say if you dig em in July that it is a good chance you can do it..so I'll try)..and then I hope to use the trenches that will be left behind after moving out the JA's to build some hugel beds..so they will be in a crescent shape but on flat ground..not on a contoured slope.

all my small hugel beds have been great here
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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Peter Fishlock wrote:Hi,

Sepp says to put them at a slight diagonal goign down the hill so the water all doesnt get held up in the first bed, Dont forget there designed as sponges so if you are doing any number they will very quickly suck up the water.

if your only having one them I dont spose it will matter aslong as your not trying to gather any amount of water below.

in the picture in his book he has them at almost a 40 degree angle stagered going down the hill.

hope this helps



Peter, it's been awhile since I've seen that diagram but isn't there a contour swale or terrace upslope from the hugelbeds? Is there also one downslope too?

 
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