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hugelkultur/sheet mulching in greenhouse at 7000 feet?

 
Matt Spaeth
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I live in Colorado at 7000 feet and it is really, really dry here, especially this year and especially in my location. I built a 10' x 20' greenhouse with raised beds last year and it was really challenging keeping our plants watered. We didn't use any mulch which I now know is not very smart. I learned of hugelkultur and I think it is perfect for our situation. However, this house is a rental and we are planning on moving next year.

So I two ideas about possible routes to take. I am seeking advice on the following or any other ideas you may have:

1. Hugelkultur using hay and smaller sticks - I am thinking using hay and smaller sticks instead of logs would be a quicker way to reap the benefits. The beds are also only 4 feet across so that doesn't leave a lot of room for a huge mound. However, the beds already have a good ecosystem of critters in there and I am wondering if it would be worth the work to dig up all the soil to lay down the hugelkultur base, thus destroying the ecosystem.

- or -

2. Just sheet mulch - This seems to be more along the lines of permaculture principles but I don't think it is as effective as hugelkultur. I have hay on hand which is what I would use, but am open for other suggestions on materials that could better keep moisture in the soil.

I am a newbie and am totally open to suggestions. What would you do?

I am also planning on making some hugelkultur mounds outside the greenhouse along the contours of the mountain I live on. I am planning on planting flowers for our bees on these.

Thanks,
Matt
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I am having good success with buried wood beds, putting logs and sticks in a trench or hole down to a couple of feet deep, covering with additional organic material and soil. This seems to be holding water much better than parts of the garden which were not treated this way but instead just had sheet mulch. But it is a LOT of work, and unless you are very fit, might require excavating equipment. Sheet mulch helps some but in my experience is not as effective as buried wood.

Sorry, just saw you're renting, so I would not advise buried wood, it is too much work for a rental property unless you're feeling especially charitable, because the benefits may not be immediate.

Please pardon my horrible reading comprehension.....
 
Matt Spaeth
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I am having good success with buried wood beds, putting logs and sticks in a trench or hole down to a couple of feet deep, covering with additional organic material and soil. This seems to be holding water much better than parts of the garden which were not treated this way but instead just had sheet mulch. But it is a LOT of work, and unless you are very fit, might require excavating equipment. Sheet mulch helps some but in my experience is not as effective as buried wood.

Sorry, just saw you're renting, so I would not advise buried wood, it is too much work for a rental property unless you're feeling especially charitable, because the benefits may not be immediate.

Please pardon my horrible reading comprehension.....


Thanks for your reply Tyler. Yeah, digging sunken hugelkultur beds is not something I would want to do around this rental property. But I would be up for dragging some logs and sticks out of the woods and piling dirt on them. The landlord really doesn't care what the yard looks like which is cool It's just totally wild mountain grasses right now.

The greenhouse area is only 10' x 20'. I did a fair amount of shovel excavating to level the ground on which it stands. I would dig up the beds to lay down sticks and hay if it would enable us to water way less. We had a catchment tank with a pump on a timer to a drip system last year but it was a bit of PITA.

Edit: Just want to add that the raised beds range between 1.5' to 3' deep before it hits the pink granite underneath so it wouldn't be that much digging to lay down sticks and hay beneath.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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The more air-tight the green house, the more moisture & humidity you can hang on to. Lots of mulch too. A large compost pile would serve as a reservoir of moisture and generator of warmth and CO2.
 
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