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building hugelkultur bed with wood from hurricane Irene

 
Kota Dubois
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When hurricane Irene came roaring through last September, she did a lot of this



So when Irene hands you lemons, you make Hugelkultur



The space is quite restricted due to the cliffs, so we dug and built the bed in sections.






My partner and chief digger




Of course we add leaves and sod before returning the soil


Wood chips for mulch on the down hill side. Seeded with winter rye since it's still two months till planting time.


Finally in context with the other gardens in this section. Its right behind my chief digger who also likes moving rocks and building terraces. What a man!
 
Chris Dean
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Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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Looking great! That's a lot of digging. Keep us updated
 
Yam Hendricks
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Location: Kingsley, MI
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Nice work. That's some beautiful land! Looks like you might've had a lot of rocks to dig up. Is the silver tarp in the pictures just to keep the dirt until you put it back?
 
Kota Dubois
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Oh ya, we have no shortage of rocks. I've found over the years that when digging anything it's easier to save as much soil as possible and to protect anything growing under the pile, to use a tarp as a base for said pile.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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that is beautiful..a lot of hard work but so worth it..thank you hurricane??
 
Kota Dubois
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Thank-you Brenda, and yes thank-you Irene. I think if I looked at it like work, I'd never do it; but since it's only a pass time and an excuse to be out in the real world, 12 hour work days and a lot of sore muscles are just icing on the cake.
 
Kota Dubois
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Phase 2 built this week-end.

This section continues the first section, and swings up to include a part of an existing perennial bed whose plants had been transplanted elsewhere.







We trimmed up the nearby spruce to increase light and air circulation, and added the boughs to the mix.



Six inches of soil returned and 1 inch of sheep manure compost. Amended at this point with egg shells and gypsum.



Returned as much soil as possible, about a foot, with plenty left over to build up the adjacent terrace garden.



The end result; a boom-a-rang shaped hugel bed that is also a swale with a keyhole path in the centre. All paths around it will be mulched with wood chips once I get my chipper fired up.

 
Yam Hendricks
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Location: Kingsley, MI
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Wow! You really had lots of timber. I think it looks great.

How did you determine that you should add those things to your mix? Is it just what you happened to have, or was there a formula involved?

Also, what do you mean by keyhole path there?

Once again, just want to say it's fantastic work. Makes me sad to see so many people burn up the material left by storms.

Edit: I also wanted to say thanks for taking the time to share.
 
Kota Dubois
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Yam, like most things in permaculture, you use what you have on hand, and hopefully near by. When we put things in the ground it feeds the soil, burning it and throwing it into the atmosphere helps nothing.

A keyhole path is an access into a garden, shaped like a keyhole, so you can reach things without actually walking on the bed and compacting the soil.
 
Chris Dean
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Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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wow!! That looks awesome! Excellent use of the slope
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Looks like a lot of fun with a beautiful result. Thank you for sharing the pictures and story. It should be productive for many years to come.

The dug-in style hugel beds have worked really well for us. I'm looking forward to putting in some more later this year.
 
Kota Dubois
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Over the years I've been using summer bulbs like dahlia, eucomis and canna in my gardens and of course they multiply and when I lift them in the fall I have more and more, so I'm planting a variety of them in the new bed with the intention of leaving the biomass of the bulbs in the soil this year.

Also we've been working on more Hugelkultur beds as the clean-up continues. I'll be posting their stories soon in this tread, complete with pictures.
 
Kota Dubois
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There was a seasonal stream that got redirected when we built the pond 20 years ago, and its old path was a fairly deep channel that we would put fallen branches etc. into as a wood dump, with the hope that one day it would become soil. Well hugelkultur is now my thing so unusable downed trees were put into the creek bed and I'll have to have soil trucked in to cover them.



After having spent many years hosting hairy woodpeckers and flickers who nested in it, the large dead maple fell over and its trunk formed a retaining wall in front of a depression which is becoming a hugel bed for my Paw Paw guild.



This shot shows the two beds up above my wet gardens. On the left is the 100 foot long creek bed one that I will use for my food forest perennials like wild leeks, aralia racemosa, Camassia scilloides, elderberry etc. and in the centre is the Paw Paw guild.



When I got my bare root Paw Paw I had a great discussion with the grower who told me that 6 years ago he planted a lot of them along the edge of his forest in good forest soil and now they have trunks the thickness of his thumb. He had some left over so he put them in a old pile of wood chips and their trunks are now 3 or 4 times as thick. So I'm experimenting with this idea.
First I broke up an old spongy maple trunk, and put it through my chipper.



This will become the main organic material around the trees.



Then I chipped the wood that was a little less spongy, and some that was new wood. With a bag of forester compost these are the basis for my planting mix.



Using rough shovelful measure I mixed 12 parts compost, 6 parts most rotted chips, 4 parts medium rotted, and 2 parts fresh wood chips.



This mix was poured into holes dug in the original chips and the Paw Paws planted into it.





Mulched with more chips and well watered in the little darlings are ready to spend the rest of their lives in the wild. Keeping my fingers crossed.


 
Dale Hodgins
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Some great work and some great photography.

How far north are you? You mention a hurricane but the landscape reminds me of places in Eastern Canada.

What species are most of the blown down trees? Did shallow rooting over bed rock contribute to it?

Are you aware that the addition of gypsum has the opposite effect of adding lime? It makes the soil more acidic. Was that your intent?

The presence of coniferous trees would usually indicate acidic soil in areas with plenty of rain. Are you in an area with naturally alcaline soil?
 
Kota Dubois
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Dale it's planting season here and I've been out there for 2 weeks away from electricity, shminternet and television - peaceful and beautiful. It's breathtaking to watch everything turn green.

Now to your questions. Southern Quebec, just north of the Vermont border, 45 degrees.

Soil is very shallow and was already waterlogged at the time. Everything in the path of the microburst(s) or tornado(s) went down---Maples, birches, ashes, butternuts, poplars etc.

The soil is ferro-humic on a bedrock of weepy shale. All forest soils are at least moderately acid, mine's around pH6 and the plants seem to like it that way. The Green Mountains are a very old range and my soil is deficient of calcium and sulfur which is what gypsum is made of. I do use my egg shells but don't like dolomite because it disturbs the acid balance and I have enough magnesium anyway. That being said, I only use a small amount of gypsum (ag grade not drywall) whenever I built a new bed and rely on the plants to cycle it thereafter.
 
Kota Dubois
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Just thought I'd post a couple of photos of my buried wood garden at the height of summer. It's been drier than normal this year, but thankfully no drought.
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Heidi Hoff
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Clearly, I'm poking around, looking at all the topics you've started. And -- oh, my -- am I ever impressed! What an inspiration!

So much of what you mention is similar to ideas I have been playing with, but feeling unable to commit to. Looking at those last photos, I'm inclined to think, "Just go for it"! What bounty for a first-year planting! Amazing!
 
Kota Dubois
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hi Heidi, poke around all you want, I do. I've always found that is a great way to keep a thread of thought going when you notice someone who has the same situation or philosophy as you do. There are more photos of my place that I've put in other peoples topics too.

I too was rather tentative about how to approach my gardens in such a challenging environment but over the last 20 some odd years, using nature's example; total anarchy, I get gardens that just keep getting better and actually take on organized patterns that are both visually and functionally satisfying.

I have to run now, but I'll respond to your other posts later.
 
Bobby Patton
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Location: Snohomish county, Wa.
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That's some sexy hugel and terracing!
 
Brian Vagg
Posts: 60
Location: Northern California - Zone 9b
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food preservation forest garden fungi
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I see that you mention you have a Paw-Paw Guild? I am just getting ready to plant my Paw-Paw's and I am wondering what is in your guild and are you happy with the success? Plus, do you think the wood chips that you added to your Paw-Paw plantings helped?
 
Kota Dubois
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Brian, after reading that Paw-Paw was very fussy about being transplanted, and should only be done whilst very young, I was wary of using these 5 year old trees. The truth is they were among my best results last summer and I would never use another method if planting more. (Which I may have to do since we've had the coldest temps. in 25 years here this winter).

Indeed I am in the process of pushing zones when it comes to Paw-Paw and I'm not sure my guild plantings would be the best choices for California. That being said, I've got wild ginger ground cover, passiflora vines, a dwarf quince, a line of skirret planted in the front and many volunteers. My approach to guilds is not nearly as intensive as the theory and practice of those who need to produce a lot of food in a small area.

Hope this helps.
 
Brian Vagg
Posts: 60
Location: Northern California - Zone 9b
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food preservation forest garden fungi
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Thanks Kota. I should be getting my trees anyday now. I will use your method to plant. Thanks for the guild info as well. Not sure if I will use what you are using, but I will consider it for sure.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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