Michael Moreken wrote:Check into what 'double digging' is, then try hugel (bury wood ___ under beds). You have to get organics into the clay. Beino suerto
s. ayalp wrote:Looks cool :)
I think your bed is a bit on the hot side. Probably it has more nitrogen than needed. It might not be a big deal though, sunken beds are more forgiving.
550 mm water is pretty damn good amount of rain. 3 to 4 months might seem changeling, but shade cloth and mulch should take care of much of your problems - in addition to sunken beds. I would prefer buried wood beds ( a type of hugelculture), as wood acting like a sponge to hold water. I would go for 60 cm deep at least. You can find all the details in buried wood bed tread, here is the link: burried wood bed . How long does it take to build, how deep, what to put etc. I would prefer that bwd's for your case.
Nitrogen issue is a common misunderstanding about hugels. It is not 100% true. The amount of nitrogen removed from soil is proportional to the surface area of wood, sawdust etc. So if it is large pieces, it only requires a small amount of nitrogen. While sawdust - a very large surface area- literally sucks up all nitrogen from the soil. In hugels, after a very limited amount of nitrogen steal, wood itself begins to decompose and add more nitrogen to the soil itself (by bacteria, roots, itself and so on). This initial removal is not significant, because you have to cover wood with a thick layer of soil. (by thick I mean 30 cm or so) Plant roots wont reach the wood layers in the first year -or very few of them-, so no robbing.
Wood does not heat up like manure do. Hugels heat up a bit, but not like compost does. Its overall carbon to nitrogen ratio is very high (also a lot of inorganic matter) and compared to compost 2 things: First it is in layers, it is not a uniform-ish mixture like compost. Secondly even though it is covered with a layer of -20 to 30-40 cm thick soil, hugels breath. It will have large gaps, openings etc. It is a good thing - it tills itself. But it does not heat up like a compost pile. The initial heating will be moderate and go away in 2-3 months. After that it wont be much warmer than surroundings. It will passively hold heat during night and cool surroundings during day time - balancing.
Buried wood beds act a bit different than standard hugels in temperature wise. It will also heat up and than cool down initially depending on how much nitrogen you put in. If you put a lot of manure, it will act like a hot bed (not related to the amount of wood you put in). Since it is insulated on all sides except from the top, it will cool down slowly. Months. Does it matter? As long as you do not build your hugels in may, june, july, No! Its completely fine.
In full battle mode I would try to divert as much as surface water to your sunken bed, add wood to act like sponge, mulch heavily and use shade cloth. More water, more storage, less evaporation. Don't forget to mulch heavily for 4 month dry spell.
Also don't forget to fully soak your bed while- or after building it. It will jump start the whole thing.
Hope it helps. Sorry for typos.
Eric Hanson wrote:Abraham,
I have used buried beds before. I threw everything organic in that I could think of. Eventually I did a sort of reverse huglekulture. I had slightly raised beds made of fallen oak logs that were quartered. This made the beds about 6” tall. Over about 10 years the logs decayed into almost nothing so I dug up my bed, buried the remainder of the logs, some twigs, leaves and other organic debris and covered it all back up. As far as I can tell that material is still decaying.
However, since then I converted that bed (again) into a raised wood chip bed. The edges are 2x10 boards (10 inches/25cm tall) filled heaping full with Wine Cap mushrooms. The wood chips drop several inches each year (1 inch=2.5 cm). This may or may not be breaking down the buried wood, but as the beds are raised, it no longer matters.
At any rate your beds look good. I would consider raising them if possible, but that is entirely your choice (I found that decayed wood chips really hold a good degree of water).
Good luck on your project, I expect good things!
Eric Hanson wrote:Abraham,
I saw what appeared to be sticks/wood in or near your bed. I assumed that you were burying the wood which is sort of a sunken hugelkulture bed.
I personally never really got into the true hugel mounds, but I truly believe in incorporating wood into the garden.
Sorry if I was confusing.
Eric Hanson wrote:I see Abraham.
Well, burying the bed will likely help preserve water during the dry months.
I have a couple of other thoughts. I can get some pretty brutally hot summers and summer droughts occasionally happen.
If you want to make a ground level bed or even a slightly elevated (a few centimeters) bed, one technique is to plant the garden and then place newspaper everywhere except where the desired plants are growing. Then cover the newspaper with straw (wood chips can work as well) and soak down with a hose. The soaking is not strictly necessary, but it does help adhere the straw, paper and ground together so they don’t blow and move around. Also, it makes it easier for any rain to soak through.
Doing this has several benefits. Weeds stand no chance as they don’t get light and can’t push through the paper. The paper and straw cover and shade the ground so that water does not evaporate as easily. Bare ground is about the worst thing you can have as too much sun and wind gets through to dry out the ground and only weeds like those conditions.
At any rate, these are just my ideas and if you like them, great—we can discuss more. If not, don’t worry, it’s totally your garden and your call.