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My first Hügelkultur adventure for PEP [Log]

 
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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I have a feeling building this Hügelkultur is going to take a while, so I thought I'd start a thread to journal my adventure.  PEP is the motivation and inspiration for this adventure, but there are other reasons to build this as well - primarily to block a narrow view of my homestead from a public road.  In the past, before finding permies and PEP, I built what I call the "tree corral" which is a 35' wide by 400' long fenced area (to keep my livestock out) planted with many species of trees to provide privacy.  Now I wish I had first mounded that 35x400 foot area before planting it.  That way I could have planted fewer conifer (currently cedar is doing the best for obscuring sight lines) and planted more food species like fruit and nut trees.  But because there was no mound, I didn't want too many deciduous trees which drop their leaves and fail to provide the intended function during the late fall, winter, and early spring months.

In this first post, I've included some pictures of the location where the Hügelkultur will be installed.  Between the cedar tree on the right and the barn on the left is the sight line where I plan to install a planted Hügelkultur.
20210117_101801a.jpg
Future location of Hügelkultur looking toward public road.
Future location of Hügelkultur looking toward public road.
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Future location of Hügelkultur looking down the ridge of the future mound.
Future location of Hügelkultur looking down the ridge of the future mound.
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First few logs set in place at the base of the Hügelkultur.
First few logs set in place at the base of the Hügelkultur.
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Another log added, as well as a 5-gallon bucket for scale.
Another log added, as well as a 5-gallon bucket for scale.
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View of first few logs looking down the ridge of the Hügelkultur.
View of first few logs looking down the ridge of the Hügelkultur.
 
R Parian
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Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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I added some old firewood rounds and some new ones to fill in the air space between logs - all of which were too knotty to be worth the effort to split into firewood.
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Old firewood rounds.
Old firewood rounds.
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Old firewood rounds.
Old firewood rounds.
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New firewood rounds.
New firewood rounds.
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More new firewood rounds.
More new firewood rounds.
 
R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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For the next layer, I added around 20 loads of a mix of soil and partially decomposed wood.
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R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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I measured what I have so far and it is 10 ft wide by 40 ft long.  I will need to add about 15 ft more to the length for a total future estimated length of 55 ft.  I also plan to continue building on the height before calling it done.
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steward
Posts: 15204
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
4635
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Awesome!  You might be able to get the sand, straw and wood hugel BBs done with one hugel!  Be sure to watch the requirements closely to be sure you get it all documented
 
R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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I added two apple cores and another 15 ft of length to a total of 55 ft long - the final length.  Now it just needs more height and girth.
20210118_141026.jpg
Two apple cores added to the Hügelkultur.
Two apple cores added to the Hügelkultur.
20210118_154516.jpg
15 ft more added, now 55 ft long.
15 ft more added, now 55 ft long.
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Closer up photo of additions.
Closer up photo of additions.
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Looking down the ridge, needs more additions.
Looking down the ridge, needs more additions.
20210118_154626.jpg
Some mushrooms growing on the logs I'm adding.
Some mushrooms growing on the logs I'm adding.
 
R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
269
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The wood I have added so far has mostly been Big Leaf Maple, Red Alder, Birch, and Willow.  There have been a few small Western Red Cedar branches, but not many and I'm intentionally avoiding larger cedar because it is rot resistant.

I added some more girth, so here are a few photos of the additions.
20210118_163609.jpg
More logs added.
More logs added.
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Closer photo of more logs added.
Closer photo of more logs added.
20210118_163641.jpg
Looking down the ridge.
Looking down the ridge.
20210118_163654.jpg
A look at the other side.
A look at the other side.
 
R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
269
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Added big bertha - a large maple log, and more maple and alder logs to finish out this wood layer.  Next will be another layer of soil.
20210124_161006.jpg
Big Bertha next to a five gallon bucket for scale.
Big Bertha next to a five gallon bucket for scale.
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A long alder down the top.
A long alder down the top.
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View from the side.
View from the side.
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View from other side.
View from other side.
 
R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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Added another layer of really nice soil over the layer of logs.  It is still 55ft long and now about 7 ft tall, but not yet 'obviously' 7ft tall, so more layers to go!
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R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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I received the sunchoke and comfrey cuttings for the Hügelkultur and have been gathering the rest of the two dozen different species, which includes 18 ft 9f >75% nitrogen fixers by volume and 24 ft of mostly nitrogen fixers, 12 comfrey plants, 12 sunchokes, and 152 sepp holzer grains of which I currently only have 42.

Earlier in this thread I added:
1) apple cores

Here I show:
2) 12 sunchokes
3) 12 comfrey
4) Buttercup squash
5) October beans
6) garlic
7) shallots
8) cilantro
9) Delicata squash
10) black corn
11) date pits
12) Sepp grains (in yellow envelope from Ash Jackson)
13) Lummi Island Wildflower Mix  (Common Camas, Yarrow, Many-leaved Lupine, Fireweed, Woolly Sunflower, Pearly Everlasting, Douglas Aster)
14) White beans
15) Golden Bantam sweet corn
16) Vanessa Dwarf Blue Curled Kale
17) Bush Blue Lake garden bean
18) Zinnia
19) Viva la Dulce Vita Blend Basil
20) Easy Peasy Pea
21) Connecticut Field Pumpkin
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My 12 sunchokes and 12 comfrey.
My 12 sunchokes and 12 comfrey.
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My collection of things to plant.
My collection of things to plant.
20210213_114212.jpg
Close up showing how huge the bag of beans is.
Close up showing how huge the bag of beans is.
 
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Thank you for your comprehensive post. How did you make your decision on not to dig a pit? I ask because I plan on creating three hugekles this summer.

Many thanks,

Bruce
 
R Parian
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Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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This area has really poor soil that is basically pit run glacial till gravel, so I didn't want to bring that gravel up above grade. If it was a spot with better soil, I probably would try digging a big ditch first and fill it with wood because the soil could then be placed on top so there is more soil in the mound.  Mine probably has more wood than normal because I have a lot of wood nearby, and probably less soil than normal because soil is in short supply nearby.
 
Posts: 51
Location: Boise, Idaho
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Please do keep us informed. I did a few smaller raised bed hugel's a year ago, still learning
 
R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
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Almost to two dozen.  Here are two more:

22) Fingerling potatoes
23) Regular potatoes
20210228_180650.jpg
Two types of seed potatoes.
Two types of seed potatoes.
 
R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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Worked on the Hügelkultur today adding a layer of latticed Big Leaf Maple and Red Alder logs.  I think this will be the last layer of logs.  Next I will do the final layer of soil between the side logs and on top of the top logs.
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gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 3597
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
1892
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Looking good. Really, really, good!!! Will be fun to see it planted & growing.
 
pollinator
Posts: 309
Location: Central Texas
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Yes. Very nice looking hugel. I feel shame when I think of mine now haha. I suppose any hugel is better than none but man yours and others I’ve seen here are just great
 
R Parian
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Posts: 324
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Put the final layer of soil on today, and it is now over 7ft tall and 50ft long. In the pictures, the 1x3 board is 7ft tall to show scale.
20210313_104043.jpg
Starting to add soil on the sides.
Starting to add soil on the sides.
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Added soil on top, 7ft tall board doesn't reach the ground.
Added soil on top, 7ft tall board doesn't reach the ground.
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Another angle showing 7ft tall board.
Another angle showing 7ft tall board.
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Start of measuring tape.
Start of measuring tape.
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Measuring tape.
Measuring tape.
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End of measuring tape at aver 50ft, see the frog?
End of measuring tape at aver 50ft, see the frog?
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Measuring board was over 10ft wide and not wide enough to span the width.
Measuring board was over 10ft wide and not wide enough to span the width.
 
R Parian
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
269
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Planted in the Hügelkultur:
  • Nettle
  • Snow berry
  • Salmon berry
  • Elderberry
  • Foxglove
  • Willow
  • 20210313_125508.jpg
    Nettle being planted.
    Nettle being planted.
    20210313_123439.jpg
    Nettle roots ready to plant.
    Nettle roots ready to plant.
    20210313_125517.jpg
    Another nettle to plant.
    Another nettle to plant.
    20210313_131742.jpg
    Snow berry bushes planted.
    Snow berry bushes planted.
    20210313_131751.jpg
    Another angle of the snow berry.
    Another angle of the snow berry.
    20210313_131851.jpg
    Salmonberry planted.
    Salmonberry planted.
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    Another angle of the salmonberry.
    Another angle of the salmonberry.
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    Elderberry planted.
    Elderberry planted.
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    Foxglove 1.
    Foxglove 1.
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    Foxglove 2.
    Foxglove 2.
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    Foxglove 3.
    Foxglove 3.
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    Willow that I rooted in a bucket of water.
    Willow that I rooted in a bucket of water.
    20210313_134130.jpg
    Another willow rooted in water.
    Another willow rooted in water.
     
    R Parian
    gardener
    Posts: 324
    Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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    Planted in the Hügelkultur:
  • 11 more apples
  • The 23 different items listed earlier in this thread
  • Crimson clover
  • Medium Red clover

  • 20210313_120807.jpg
    11 more apples along with the two types of potatoes.
    11 more apples along with the two types of potatoes.
    20210313_144912.jpg
    Bags of clover seed.
    Bags of clover seed.
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    Planted everything, stakes marking potatoes and sunchokes.
    Planted everything, stakes marking potatoes and sunchokes.
    20210313_135856.jpg
    More staked plantings.
    More staked plantings.
     
    R Parian
    gardener
    Posts: 324
    Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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    Started mulching the Hügelkultur.  Mulches applied so far include:
  • Stemmy hay
  • Pea husks
  • Bigleaf Maple leaves
  • Hardwood sawmill shavings
  • 20210313_152059.jpg
    Stemmy hay mulch
    Stemmy hay mulch
    20210313_152116.jpg
    More stemmy hay mulch
    More stemmy hay mulch
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    SStemmy hay mulch on other side.
    SStemmy hay mulch on other side.
    20210313_135453.jpg
    Pea husk mulch around a foxglove.
    Pea husk mulch around a foxglove.
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    Bigleaf Maple leaf mulch.
    Bigleaf Maple leaf mulch.
    20210313_154208.jpg
    Bigleaf Maple leaf mulch.
    Bigleaf Maple leaf mulch.
    20210313_154125.jpg
    Hardwood sawmill shavings.
    Hardwood sawmill shavings.
    20210313_154138.jpg
    Hardwood sawmill shavings.
    Hardwood sawmill shavings.
     
    R Parian
    gardener
    Posts: 324
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    Transplanted a giant vine maple onto the end of the Hügelkultur, and then mulched all disturbed areas surrounding the Hügelkultur.
    20210313_161413.jpg
    Vine maple ready to go into hole dug at the end of the Hügelkultur.
    Vine maple ready to go into hole dug at the end of the Hügelkultur.
    20210313_170729.jpg
    Tree in the hole, hole backfilled, watering transplant.
    Tree in the hole, hole backfilled, watering transplant.
    20210313_170756.jpg
    From another angle.
    From another angle.
    20210313_170811.jpg
    And another angle.
    And another angle.
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    Mulched around transplanted tree.
    Mulched around transplanted tree.
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    Perspective matching before Hügelkultur photo A.
    Perspective matching before Hügelkultur photo A.
    20210313_174032.jpg
    Perspective matching before Hügelkultur photo B.
    Perspective matching before Hügelkultur photo B.
    20210313_174054.jpg
    One more angle.
    One more angle.
     
    R Parian
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    Added two more types of mulch to the Hügelkultur:
  • Lawn clippings
  • Skunk cabbage leaves
  • 20210314_104448.jpg
    Lawn clippings mulch.
    Lawn clippings mulch around the snow berry and vine maple.
    20210314_111725.jpg
    Skunk cabbage leaves mulch.
    Skunk cabbage leaves mulch around the elderberry.
     
    R Parian
    gardener
    Posts: 324
    Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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    Here are some more seeds that were planted in the Hügelkultur.  

    The Pollinator Wildflower Mix includes:
    1) Shasta Daisy
    2) Lancy-leaf Coreopis
    3) Plains Coreopis
    4) Wild Cosmos
    5) Sulfur Cosmos
    6) Purple Coneflower
    7) Dwarf Sunflower Sunspot
    8) Sweet Alyssum
    9) Baby Blue Eyes
    10) Lacy Phacelia
    11) Yellow Prarie Coneflower
    12) Mexican Hat
    13) Black-eyed Susan
    14) African Marigold
    15) Crimson Clover
    16) Zinnia
    17) Bee Balm
    18) California poppy
    19) Indian Blanket
    20210328_113306.jpg
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    R Parian
    gardener
    Posts: 324
    Location: NW Washington - Zone 8b (15 to 20 °F / -9.4 to -6.7 °C)
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    This Hügelkultur is located within a pasture my cattle graze, so I started building a fence to keep the cattle off the Hügelkultur. I don't want them eating everything I planted!
    20210327_094342.jpg
    Started building the fence where I wanted an access gate.
    Started building the fence where I wanted an access gate.
    20210327_121205.jpg
    Installing posts for braced corners.
    Installing posts for braced corners.
    20210327_164621.jpg
    One end ready for fence wire.
    One end ready for fence wire.
    20210327_164659.jpg
    Other end ready for fence wire.
    Other end ready for fence wire.
    20210327_164712.jpg
    Other end from different angle.
    Other end from different angle.
     
    I am mighty! And this is a mighty small ad:
    Freaky Cheap Tickets to the SKIP Event - this weekend only!
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