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graduated hugelkultur  RSS feed

 
Mike Underhill
Posts: 53
Location: N. Sac. Valley
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Here I'll share my new HK beds, which were built with different amounts of underlying woody material.
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When I moved in it looked like this. A huge walnut tree in middle of the lot (left) and a bunch of small fruit trees.
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There was the ole burn pile and dirt mound (foreground right), the only topography I have to speak of.
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I put the burn pile branches under the first two beds (under the hardware cloth barrier), then I put bigger stuff under bed #3 (no hardware cloth).
 
Mike Underhill
Posts: 53
Location: N. Sac. Valley
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Process of the first three beds. I used primarily onsite soil (deep sandy loam, tons of earthworms), and mixed in some horse manure from a local stable. Also used some rice straw.
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The 1x12 frames were dug in at bit so I could use the onsite soil.
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Poured on some grass clippings, branches, and old mandarins.
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This is some ripe old wood I tossed in.
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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^haha, nice sig

and nice hugel beds, they look like they'll work well for not standing out as odd or different in any way
 
Mike Underhill
Posts: 53
Location: N. Sac. Valley
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I'll add more detail below.
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HK #4 has by far the most wood and was built next to the old (compacted) dirt pile.
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Shot of beds 1-4, Standard raised with gopher wire on #1 and #2, rotten wood under #3 (left), lots of green wood under #4 (in back).
 
Mike Underhill
Posts: 53
Location: N. Sac. Valley
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Beds #1 and 2: Conventional 4'x14' frames made of one-by-twelves with half-inch hardware cloth to keep out the gophers. Almost as an after thought I threw some branches under these beds, approximately 60 liner feet of 2-inch diameter, mostly English walnut. I figure that I will refer to these two beds as traditional raised beds with a slight nod to hugelkultur. My experience (organic gardening in Northern California) has been that without the wire gophers will show up half way through the season and wipe out all their favorite veggies in a couple of days, then gradually munch their way through the others.

Bed #3: Inspired by Paul's podcast, the article, and Permie folk, I decided to go heavy on the free wood and ditch the expensive hardware cloth. I figure I put in about 40 lineal feet of partially decayed ~12-inch wood, species unknown. I still used the wooden border and midpoint brace to keep a consistent appearance. I put in a bunch of rotten wood and green debris, then piled it up with the native sandy loam and topped it with rice straw.

Bed #4: Sorry no photos of the innards but I was TCOB that day and didn't feel like stopping. I dug out 8-9 inches of soil as per usual and tossed in about 30 linear feet of 18-20-inch diam green wood, species ash. On that I stacked a whole bunch of branches pruned from a pair of neglected apple trees - hundreds of vertical shoots 6-8' long plus some knobby chunks and a few large branches. On that I dumped about two months of our compost (2/3 an IBC tote cage), then I built up the pile with backfill soil and covered with rice straw.

I hope that this graduated approach will demonstrate strengths and weaknesses of each technique, but I'll also be fine if everything just turns out awesome.
 
Mike Underhill
Posts: 53
Location: N. Sac. Valley
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Progress update: good growth in each bed. Tomatoes, strawberries and sweet potatoes are doing best it seems in the large HK bed, while the onion and kale are doing best in the flat-raised beds. There's a gopher in my small HK bed that's taken out a few plants, mostly lettuce. Four lettuce plants are now making a comeback over in the hot house, I found them severed below the surface so I gave them a haircut and planted them back into pots. F-ing gophers!
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Perry Fox
Posts: 2
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So it looks as if the English walnut is fine to use in hugelkultur? I've been trying to find info on this very topic for a little while now and all I've been able to find is "don't use black walnut", but nothing regarding English walnut...I've got a real good supply of English walnut wood here on our little acre in the North Sacramento Valley. Thanks for the pics & info!!
 
Perry Fox
Posts: 2
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Considering that I just now noticed that the posts & photos you have here are one year old now, I'd be really interested to know of any other progress/pros/cons you might give out now, a whole year later. Thanks for your time, it is appreciated!
 
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