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hugelkultur in food forest

 
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Has anyone used hugelkultur as part of a food forest?
 
pollinator
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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada -- Zone 5a
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I wish I had an answer for you. I hope someone has some thoughts, because I'm considering doing something like this. I'm starting a tiny forest this year (maybe a few hundred square feet) and I was wondering if doing a hugelkulture base would provide my baby trees and bushes with some good long term nutrition and moisture...
 
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We did a hugelkulture In a Forest and have plans for an orchard.

The first thing we had an area were a field had reforested. Loggers has come thru years earlier with skidders and crushed the culvert and bridge on our property (before we bought it. The logs were dumped and left in piles. The stream, was diverted and washed out a large area of former field. That was what we had. We knew we had to replace the bridge and culvert. But we watched to see what happened over the seasons. Cut to the chase: we had the culvert replaced with a fish ladder culvert, much bigger. We redug the stream bed, the overflow area to return the water flow. We knocked down the old piles of rotting logs and piled the Soil on top, making undulating, more natural banking. Depending on the location we planted spruce, birch willow, hemlock, white pine, maple and balsam. We also planted hazelnuts, Aronia, and other native bushes (mostly transplants). We are in Maine, zone 4! We are making snowshoe hare habitat in that section.
 
Kim Wendt
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The orchard plan calls for a more formal approach. We have an old orchard area that was abandoned over 25 years ago. The trees are morE or less in a series of lines along old field margins. The wild forest has grown up around the trees and out into the field. When a crop tree is surrounded by overgrowth, you cannot release the whole tree at one time. The sudden shock of full sun, full winter will kill it. So each year, we cut back a portion of the overgrowth and pile in hugel mounds about 30’ or so away from reach of the trees. (30’ outside the drip line). We transplant saplings to other parts and occasionally leave special trees in place (black walnuts). It will take about 6 years to fully release the apples (all standard sized trees about 50 years old, huge). The hugel sections get covered with the dirt from the next section we dig to lay the next hugel. We have found a lot of abandoned horse drawn farm implements, sections of fiddlehead glens, an old farm pond with overflow, all kinds of things. We also found a lot of cherry saplings with black gall disease. Those we carefully uproot and take to the dump to be burned. The hugel mounds are making great water retention areas on our ridge sections that have thorndike soil, the apples are begging to thrive again. It’s a huge labor tho... some of the red osher and huge thickets of choke cherries we have to take out by hand So as to not disturbed the fruit tree root systems too much. We have 58 apple trees in this orchard (the farm dates back to 1700’s). We find more valuable medicinal plants, bushes and trees every year and re work our plans accordingly.
 
author
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Location: West Wales, Britain
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I'm helping someone who wishes to design a forest garden on a fairly waterlogged field.It's adjacent a river and natural swampy marginal zone. First we are getting a sense of whether any area stays dry enough for planting...however the idea they have is use hugelkultur to outwit the waterlogging and plant the fruit guilds above the waterlogging line. I'd love advice. I'm concerned from previous attempts that the woody centre will have too many air pockets to support trees and wondering how much soil layer we'd need to make it feasible. Advice welcome...
 
Kim Wendt
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Post 3...

We started with native overgrown forested areas... about 45 out of 68 acres. we didn’t really have to plant a forest so much as clear some areas back to stone walls, clear an old road, clear the old fields... along the way create a more varied habitats: old growth forest, regenerated areas, deer areas, snowshoe hare and lynx, fisher and mink, margin areas. Deer are very prevalent as are bear, coyote, fox, owls, bats, frogs, etc. so our hugel work is merely returning the brushed out material back into the forest in a way that doesn’t cause a fire hazard. We do leave some downed trees and the occasional wolf tree for habitat. We just had so many overgrown areas, we had to figure a better way. The forested hugels get native grass seeded, or clover, or even field peas or buckwheat. Usually a mix. Overtime the mound sections will have witch hazel, bear berry, aronia depending on high up on the ridge they are. Some already have teaberry (wintergreen) the shady areas or alpine strawberries in sunnier spots.
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