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Starting my UK Hugelkultur bed today  RSS feed

 
Paul Andrews
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Location: Cornwall UK
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Hi All

Today I am going to start digging out my first Hugelkultur bed at my allotment. I had some funny looks yesterday whilst all the other allotment owners were clearing crap from their plots, I was bringing in a large pile of logs and rotting wood. I am pretty sure it will be against the terms of my allotment agreement but who cares. I am going to build one anyway. What is the worst that could happen.

At the moment it is going to be quite a small bed as the allotments are not very big and I do not have a huge pile of wood but I was wondering what else I can put in there to make the pile a bit bigger.

I noticed a lot of the other allotment owners were cutting down their brussel sprout stems and throwing them on a rubbish pile. These are quite woody but not as woody as, er, wood. Would these be OK to put on top of the wood and under the turf and soil.

I will let you know how I get on

Also wondering if there is a printable version of the Hugelkultur article. I was thinking of printing it out and fixing it to an information board on my allotment to let other owners know all about it

Cheers

aman
 
Cam Mitchell
Posts: 108
Location: W. CO, 6A
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I noticed a lot of the other allotment owners were cutting down their brussel sprout stems and throwing them on a rubbish pile. These are quite woody but not as woody as, er, wood. Would these be OK to put on top of he wood and under the turf ans soil.

Should be ok. If they don't act like wood, they'll just act as compost. You won't get the benefits of wood, though.
 
Paul Andrews
Posts: 155
Location: Cornwall UK
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Well in my normal way of just jumping in and doing stuff without actually knowing what I am doing here is what happened today at the allotment. Although it was a beautiful day there were not a lot of other people at the allotment today to ask me what I was up to due to the fact that there was a rugby match on the telly so while I was up to my elbows in soil and funky wood the rest of the population was shouting at the telly with a beer in their hands and not shouting at me for putting wood in the ground.

After about a minute of beard rubbing I finally said to my wife "Is it OK if I put a hugelkultur bed here?" "A hugel what!?" "A raised bed" " I suppose so" I set about attacking this otherwise unused part of the allotment.



We have pretty shallow top soil on this site so I dug a trench down until I hit the shale subsoil. The trench is about 2 foot wide by 1 foot deep and about 10 foot long.



Then I started laying in the bigger bits of wood.



And carried on until I ran out.



The area I chose didn't really have any turf because it was dug over last year but never used so I decided to dig a trench beside the bed on the uphill side to provide some turf and also to act as a water catchment for the bed. This also doubled the amount of soil for covering the wood. (I'm making it up as I go along at this point)
I turned the turf over on top of the pile of wood ans started shovelling the soil from the trench. I then shovelled the soil from the original trench on top.



The resulting bed is now about 2 foot above ground level AND 3 foot above the bottom of the up hill trench.

I still have a bit more soil to drag up over it and i have a load of composted material that i could put on top if need be.





Right. What is the next step?

 
Isaac Hill
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Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Plant it!
 
Paul Andrews
Posts: 155
Location: Cornwall UK
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Isaac Hill wrote:Plant it!


With what? Do I let it get covered in grass or should I plant a good ground cover plant or should I plant veg straight away?

aman
 
Thelma McGowan
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
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Awesome! I would plant soon so the rain won't wash your dirt off...or maybe cover it with straw or leaves or what-have-you.
I just started my hugel bed last fall and i planted comfrey around the edges, i put some Sun chokes, chives, oregano. I even transplanted some Dandelions into the bed to get some deep tap roots growing down into the wood.

If you are breaking the rules of your allotment......then I think after you grow successfully the ajoining gardners might follow your lead. that will be a great way to promote Hugelkulture.
 
Isaac Hill
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aman inavan wrote:
Isaac Hill wrote:Plant it!


With what? Do I let it get covered in grass or should I plant a good ground cover plant or should I plant veg straight away?

aman


Don't let it get covered in grass! Depends on what you want, you can plant veg straight away, but try to go heavy on the legumes. Mulching is also a good idea. You could plant with groundcover and let it sit for a season, but you don't have to.
 
Paul Andrews
Posts: 155
Location: Cornwall UK
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We have an abundance of seaweed where we live so I will give it a liberal mulch with that and plant a load of seeds

Hopefully the salt in the seaweed will keep the slugs at bay

aman
 
Paul Andrews
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Location: Cornwall UK
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I have been asked if it would be beneficial to put a pipe running through the bed that you could pour urine down from time to time or even link the bed to a urinal in the shed

Thoughts please
 
Paul Andrews
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What would be a good ground cover plant to stabilise my raised bed?
 
Willy Kerlang
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HI Aman,
I have a new raised bed very similar in size to yours, maybe a bit taller, and I am also wondering what to plant in it. Regarding urine, I would not worry about installing a pipe. Just dump it in the swale you dug out on the uphill side and it will get absorbed into the hugel. That's what I do in my garden and the results are astonishing. I am thinking about planting buckwheat grass on my hugel for the first growing season, then letting it grow until most of it has flowered. I will then likely toss a second crop consisting of some smaller seed, like maybe amaranth, onto the hugel, THEN cut down the buckwheat and let the cuttings lie where they fall, protecting the newer seeds. This is similar to the Fukuoka method. I will then cut the amaranth (which is a kind of ancient grain) and also lie those cutting on the bed. By this point I will have had two successive crops putting down root systems and providing mulch.
By that time it will likely be autumn and I may actually plant garlic in my hill at that point. Here in Nova Scotia we plant our garlic in the fall and harvest it the following summer.

But I should point out I too am making this up as I go along and really have no idea what I'm doing! Which is half the fun. Other people have suggested legumes, which are a great idea as they will fix nitrogen into the soil. Clover is a nitrogen fixer and will attract bees when it flowers. I think buckwheat might also be a nitrogen fixer (can't remember).

I too am totally open to suggestions from others more experienced.
 
Paul Andrews
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Location: Cornwall UK
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Thanks Willy

I was thinking clover as well

We looked into moving from the UK to Nova Scotia a few years ago. I would love to visit sometime

aman
 
Diane Germain
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Location: Port Angeles, WA USA
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I would love to know how this looks now?
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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