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Plant a tree in a brand new hugel?

 
pollinator
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Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 7b
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Hi folks,

My neighbor is getting the use of a skidsteer for a day in a trade. He told me I am welcome to it for an hour or two and he has a pile of dirt he wants rid of. I am planning to run a few yards over to a zone with heavy clay and hugel up some wood I have lying around.

My question is, if I plant a fruit tree (peaches, cherry or nectarine) in a hugel immediately after construction, what are my odds of the tree surviving? I don't have a lot of spare income so $25 a pop tree experiments are not something I want to be doing. I don't NEED trees right away but I'd like some! Should I just make some lil' raised beds for my trees and plant other stuff in my mounds for the time being?

I am mostly worried about the nitrogen thing. I can add some well-composted chicken manure to compensate but it won't have any time to "blend".

Thanks!
 
gardener
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I would be worried about voles and settling.

I think planting next to a hugel mound would be the better choice.
Hot manure in the hugel will have time to compost before the tree roots encounter it.
 
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Location: MD Eastern Shore, Zone 7B
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I would do dirt mounds for your trees and plant something else in the hugel. Remember that as the wood rots, it will break down, and the hugel mound will shrink down by quite a lot, which would ultimately damage your trees.

I have heavy clay soil so I had to do raised beds for my trees last year because the first few things I planted drowned. I made 4'x4' raised beds out of 2"x10" lumber to plant my first few trees (except a pussy willow which likes wet feet anyway). This year, now that the soil has settled and the trees have established themselves, I intend to take the frames apart and place them elsewhere to plant more trees, then I'm going to hugel around the first tree mounds to extend my guilds.

Little by little, as my grandmother used to say.
 
pollinator
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Maybe plant trees alongside of the hugel? This would eliminate the settling issue, but maybe still have the benefit of moisture and fungal soils next door in the hugel.
 
gardener
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I've planted a lot of trees along the base of the north side of my hugel beds. They seem to do great and since they're taller than the plants I'm planting in the hugel beds it works out well. Really gives the trees a nice sheltered spot to get started.
 
Dan Fish
pollinator
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Awesome, thanks for the rapid responses! Everything said makes sense. I definitely have enough pine logs to make a temporary frame for a raised bed. I love that idea.

Thanks again!
 
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