I am getting started into permaculture, hugelkultur, well basically anything with culture in the name (except monoculture).
I have this plan, of having a spot with cucumbers, squashes, nasturtium, radish, so that they can all benefit from each other. Right now, this spot is not in the best shape. At first it was only grass; I wanted to do some form of hugelkultur, although it's far from perfect.
I live in a 8a climate. The spot is a slope (about 13 degress), about 8 square meter. I buried a bit of wood, as well as some coffee ground, trying to create some kind of hugelkultur; however I buried at most big twigs rather than actual tree trunks, for a lack of better material. I removed all the grass above, tried to get back as much dirt from it as I could; in some case I just turned upside down the "block" of grass, as to win a bit of time and hopefully have it decompose and feed the soil.
The soil is clay-ish as far as I know, and I have sown a green manure a few weeks ago, with the intent to cut it all and use as mulch cover. The one that grew was phacelia, and it look like it's the only one there.
Here is a picture. So far, the only plants that are supposed to stay are some thyme, dill (both on the right but we can barely see), and artemis annua (on the front, right, but they're tiny right now). All the rest is either weeds or that green manure that seem to be the only succesfull one from all those I have sown.
What can I do, to make this spot a better one for the plants I want to have in it ? I plan at some point to chop the green manure that's here and use it as mulch; is there anything else I should do, either right now or in the future ? I already have a few nasturtium growing in pots, which I'll transplant in a while. Also, I don't have access to a lot of compost or manure, especially right now as most shops are closed, and I don't have a car to transport even small quantities of organic material. I also want to add that in a few weeks I'll have some dried mustard stems available, right now I'm planning to compost them but maybe they could provide the mulch. I have a bit of manure left, should it goes there too ?
first of all i want to suggest you make some pathways and define your beds, your soil looks like it is indeed pretty heavy clay, so compaction is your enemy.
Make your beds so that you can reach every part without having to step on it. (120 cm width is about the standard, or try keyhole beds?)
The compaction can also be buffered by adding organic matter, which will create the aggregates you want.
The fact that it was already grassy is a sign that soil nutrients aren't too bad, otherwise there would have been much more weeds like thistles and such.
But since your soil is mostly clay this isn't a guarantee that soil life is already healthy, because clay can also chemicaly bind water and nutrients.
So adding organic matter and keeping your soil covered like you are planning to do is indeed a good idea. But try to keep the digging and tilling to a minimum.
I'd save up the manure to add around the squashes, as they are pretty demanding veggies:)
The turning point for me was getting a mower with a bag. Grass clippings, shredded leaves (mowed) and wood chips have turned some terrible Carolina clay into deep planting beds in short order. I do have an issue direct seeding into the mixture due to the wood chips. If transplanting is your thing you’ll have no problems at all.
As far as the twigs in your hugelculture, use what you have. Sure, bigger pieces are better put permaculture is about using what you have available.
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posted 3 months ago
So I'm going to make another bed, so this one will have a bit less stuff on it. Maybe just cucumbers, nasturtium and radises. And put the squash somewhere else.
I was offered a hand mower when I moved in, but at the time I didn't see the need for a bag. Right now I'm letting the grass grow tall, and cut it by hand to get a good amount of mulch. I also like the aura of wildness this give to the garden. Death to the lawns !
I'll see how I'll do with seedling. the cucumbers I have seemed to appreciate direct seeding much more, I'll see probably do a mixture with the squashes of direct seedling and transplanting.
As for the squash bed, I'll try to just lay some soil instead of digging, and add some manure and my first batch ever of compost. I'll also put nasturtium and radishes there.
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