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My first big Hugelkultur bed

 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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Here's my first real attempt at Hugelkulture. I had some wood that's been aging for a few years now, and could NOT be split-via maul or splitter. The stuff is just too tough, so perfect re-use as hugel bed material. Now let's see some pics...
First Hugel built half size.jpg
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Hugel with dirt half size.jpg
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Hugel with logs half size.jpg
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Scott Jackson
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Location: Córdoba, Argentina
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Excellent. THanks for posting, Gary.

I'm fairly new to the HugelKulture concept. Is the idea that everything will eventually compost down to the level of your stone perimeter?

Are you planning on planting something soon, or letting it age a while?

Cheers,

Scott
 
Gary Park
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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Scott Jackson wrote:Excellent. THanks for posting, Gary.

I'm fairly new to the HugelKulture concept. Is the idea that everything will eventually compost down to the level of your stone perimeter?

Are you planning on planting something soon, or letting it age a while?

Cheers,

Scott


I'm not sure how far down it will shrink, but it would take 10-20 years in any case. The logs will hold moisture and provide nutrients. I'm definitely going to plant *something* asap--not sure exactly what right now. I may end up tarping it for a short while since a good downpour will wash away a lot of my valuable compost. I think lettuces would be a good early season starter, then melons and cucumbers I think for it's first year.
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
Posts: 166
Location: Yucatan Puebla Ontario BC
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I think it's a bit tall and steep. You might have some problems with erosion and drying out.
 
Paul Andrews
Posts: 155
Location: Cornwall UK
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Jeffrey Hodgins wrote:I think it's a bit tall and steep. You might have some problems with erosion and drying out.


Really? I doesn't look any steeper than the ones in the hugelkultur article
 
Jonathan Hontz
Posts: 36
Location: Denver, CO
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Tall and steep are attributes of hugelkultur beds. Mulch it a bit to keep the soil in place until the plant roots can do that. Use something heavier, like wood chips, that will stay in place on such a slope. It needs to be planted densely enough that this will occur, so no rows or bare patches of soil are allowed. Between the mulch, the plants, and all the decomposing wood underneath, the bed will not dry out very quickly, and should hold water like a sponge. The more wood you've buried, the more noticable this effect should be.
 
Brenda Groth
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looks great, as for the comments on steepness, you will be adding mulch when you plant..that should take care of it..also..any plants that have good roots should stabiliize it.
 
Gary Park
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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Another hugel project been working on(bigger). Figured I would just put all my hugel pics in this post so people know it's all the same person, and I'll update with pics of the old beds as they age and settle.
10-13-12 front hugel 2.JPG
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front hugel 1.JPG
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Gary Park
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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And by the magic of the internet...it's a month later. I've added many loader loads of brush and logs(about 15 loads of brush, 25 loads of dirt so far).
Front hugel 12-12-12 3.JPG
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Front hugel 12-12-12 2.JPG
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Front hugel 12-12-12 1.JPG
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Billy Nelson
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Looks like you got a good supply of barnyard manure, Gary, so your harvests are bound to be good ones. Best of luck with the project and thanks for the photo tour.
 
Julia Winter
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I'm curious--how much did you first hugelkultur bed settle in the past 9 months?
 
Gary Park
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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Actually no manure, just really rich dirt from a job 3 doors down I'm doing clearing land that was overgrown woods/brush. My plan is that with this good dirt/hugel at the top of my property, the nutrients will slowly make their way down the lot.

The smaller hugel sunk about 6" or more, mostly from the compost degrading, not the wood of course. I did NOT have any erosion problems, but did have some drying out problems--I believe this is due to that with no rock dust or mineral content, the water holding ability of the soil was low, as well as it not absorbing water readily. I could water for a full minute, and then dig my hand in and about 3-6" down would be DRY. I will be adding rock dust next spring with any plantings I do. Pics to come(dark right now).
 
Gary Park
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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Julia Winter wrote:I'm curious--how much did you first hugelkultur bed settle in the past 9 months?


Here's the bed as of today. It had snake gourds all over it a month ago(you can see a rotting one on the white rock wall). I have some different herbs, 2 new apple trees, and some strawberries growing here and there--they are all babies.
12-20-12 backyard hugel.JPG
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Eric Markov
Posts: 100
Location: Bay Area CA zone 9
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Nice pictures Gary.

How was your harvest from the hugel bed you showed in March, the one with all the vertically buried stumps?

I found squash, cukes, & tomatoes did much better over vertically buried stumps than horizontally buried logs in my 1st year hugel beds.
Was wondering if you noticed anything similar?


Here's a link to my recent hugel bed construction:
http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/10/garden-bed-construction.html

 
Gary Park
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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Better be careful, people will think you're digging graves going that deep. he he. My hugel bed wood is probably going to take some years to really push production. The snake gourds did grow really well, and then onions and garlic are taking off now that it's cooler. This past spring/summer/fall was the hottest and dryest I've ever seen, so nothing did great. I pretty much always lay the logs vertical--that way the dirt can fall down all around them, whereas if it is sideways there would be large air pockets everywhere under the "eaves" of the side of the logs.
 
Eric Markov
Posts: 100
Location: Bay Area CA zone 9
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Yes, I did think the neighbors might get suspicious seeing the grave-like digging

Air pockets are actually good for the plants I've observed. In the post below, I dug up a squash plant doing well.
The roots really grew well into a large gopher hole.
Since then I've dug up many other plants and always observed the roots loved air pockets in the ground.
So when filling in my hugel beds now I actually try to make gaps.
Also I won't worry as the wood decomposes and leave more air pockets in the ground, the extra aeration really helps the plants.


http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/08/squash-root-excavation.html
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