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Hugelkultur bed on wet clay

 
Steph Michelle
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I've read/heard about Hugle beds to deal with dry climates. I'm wondering how they would work in a wet climate? I'm in Nova Scotia (Canada) and I have a slightly sloped area that was total cleared for construction. It is clay subsoil and ends up with a lot of standing water. This spot gets good light and is where I'm hoping to get some fruit trees and bushes growing but I think the wet is too much. When I get time I was going to build a hugle bed uphill from the area thinking it would absorb some of the water and redirect it. In the process I would make use of some of the dead wood and build myself a nice planting bed.

Has anyone used hugle beds to deal with an area with too much water before?

Thanks!
 
Cj Sloane
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I think HKs in dry climes are dug down and filled with wood and things, then covered. In wet climes, just lay the logs/material on the land and build the mounds up. The water will drain into the HK and get stored there. I think they should dry out quicker if too wet.
 
Brenda Groth
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sure they work on wet clay (i live on wet clay) but any raised bed at all will work on wet clay..

I even filled one bed with branches and clay to see how it would work out..the clay is lifted 6 to 12 " above grade..and this is it's second year..the clay is at this time planted with sugar snap peas, kale, mesclun, spinach, cabbage and a few other crops, there are some areas not yet planted..the plants seem to be growing fine on it..I did put a heavy mulch over it last fall, and will mulch again as soon as the baby plants are up high enough to be mulched..this is an experiment I wouldn't necessarily recommend..

there are some threads on here about clay..might search for them

I have had suggested to me to try both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in the clay raised bed..and I have one section waiting for warm enough (michigan) weather for putting out my baby sweet potatoes into the clay and I have potatoes coming, will stick "2" of them in the clay to see how they do, the rest will go where I had planned to plant my taters..will update later..or on my blog
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I have heavy clay and have mounded using hugelbeds, very successfully! The topsoil aspect of the mound dries out much faster while storing water for the dry seasons. I have an area at the very bottom of my garden (everything grades towards it) and I put a huge hugel bed stretching the 50 feet to essentially catch all of the runoff. I have a pit dug out behind it that collects even more water, I filled that with brush and roundbales to provide habitat and sponge effect. The bed dries out on top easily in these sunny days while draining faster than ever possible before due the drainage ditch below it. Plus I stole the top soil from the ditch for the hugel bed. Win win

Steph Michelle wrote:I've read/heard about Hugle beds to deal with dry climates. I'm wondering how they would work in a wet climate? I'm in Nova Scotia (Canada) and I have a slightly sloped area that was total cleared for construction. It is clay subsoil and ends up with a lot of standing water. This spot gets good light and is where I'm hoping to get some fruit trees and bushes growing but I think the wet is too much. When I get time I was going to build a hugle bed uphill from the area thinking it would absorb some of the water and redirect it. In the process I would make use of some of the dead wood and build myself a nice planting bed.

Has anyone used hugle beds to deal with an area with too much water before?

Thanks!
 
Steph Michelle
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Wonderful! Thanks for the reassurance!
 
Willy Kerlang
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Hi Steph, I am in Nova Scotia too (South Shore). Like David said, if your goal is both to absorb and redirect water then you might consider both a swale and a hugel bed. The ditch uphill of the bed will hold excess water and release it into the hugel bed, and you will have a source of dirt to pile atop your wood.

I live on a hill also and have dug several small swales to deal with the temporary streams that crop up in our (increasingly heavy) summer rainstorms. And at the bottom of the hill, also like David, I made a long hugel bed, probably about forty feet, which I did not dig at all. I just piled wood in a line and then buried it under massive amounts of dirt. I did not dig a ditch on the uphill side of it, because there would have been a lot of tree roots to deal with and I am lazy as hell. This will actually be my first season growing in that bed and I am excited to see how it works.

Good luck and post pics if you can.
 
Jen Moss
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Willy Kerlang wrote:Hi Steph, I am in Nova Scotia too (South Shore). Like David said, if your goal is both to absorb and redirect water then you might consider both a swale and a hugel bed. The ditch uphill of the bed will hold excess water and release it into the hugel bed, and you will have a source of dirt to pile atop your wood.

I live on a hill also and have dug several small swales to deal with the temporary streams that crop up in our (increasingly heavy) summer rainstorms. And at the bottom of the hill, also like David, I made a long hugel bed, probably about forty feet, which I did not dig at all. I just piled wood in a line and then buried it under massive amounts of dirt. I did not dig a ditch on the uphill side of it, because there would have been a lot of tree roots to deal with and I am lazy as hell. This will actually be my first season growing in that bed and I am excited to see how it works.

Good luck and post pics if you can.


Hi Willy
Hi Steph
We live in NS as well. We are in Cape Breton & are just looking into starting our first hugelkultur beds. We have acreage with mixed forest...... some dead spruce, young maple, fir, birch, pine, hazel nut, lots of wild blueberry. We want to take down some of the trees so we have room for a food forest. So much to learn. Just starting to look at the hillsides & sun & wind directions. I think we are in a frost pocket as the snow stays here untill mid May. We are on the border of zone 5a / 5b I'd love to grow fruit ..... apple, cherry, plum ..... but trying to figure out best placement for the fruit trees ...... also want to grow enough veggies for ourselves & neighbours to share.
Nice to connect with people in our area
Any advise comments appreciated
 
Jason Matthew
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I have read/heard that willows can help dry out wet areas by absorbing the moisture. Maybe your could try planting a line of willows at the bottom of your slope to help suck up some of the moisture.
 
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