Hi! I'm new here from Upstate South Carolina. We've been getting so much rain, my garden, which is close to the water table, it getting taken over by Virginia Buttonweed, and the fruittrees I planted are suffering. I am glad to have stumbled onto the hugelkulture method after being directed here by a fellow permie in my area. It sounds like the solution to soggy soil.
I have a couple blueberries in a slightly raised area and they are doing fine. They get mulched every year with pine straw, and this year I found some some well decayed, crumbly pine wood in my wooded chicken pen (it was probably a pile left from clearing the land 20 years ago by someone, and the woods have since regrown around it. I'd like to put in more, and the way Sepp Holzer does it is__?!?!? Carrots and lettuce? Perhaps the buried logs keep the soil acidic (more carbon means more carbs to digest, means more acid created by the critters?) so the blueberry's deeper roots get the acid, while the upper several inches are more neutral. Need to put some ground nuts with them too...
I have a mixture of scrubby pines (the kind that grows really fast and then falls over), tulip poplars, and sweetgums, which are trying to take over the place, in the regrown woods. 10+ acres of it, dotted by a few hardwoods. I think I could probably find enough dead pine to make some hugelkulture beds in my garden, along with some mown hay, compost, cardboard and straw. And the sweet gums definitely need thinning. So I was going to just try to build up the soil with deep sheet mulches, but a farmer lady at the market said I needed raised beds. Hugelkulture sounds perfect. The logs take care of a lot of the bulk, so I don't have to mess anything up to get at the soil I need. I'll just dig it from the location where the beds will go, then sheet mulch the top with a layer of hay and compost, then cardboard, then straw. I planted a berm to block driveway runoff and sheet mulched it that way. It stays perky even in the scorching heat when everything else (except the sweet potatoes and heat loving wildies) looks sad. So that combined with the hugelkulture idea sounds like it might work.
But I have another problem. My garden is also in a frost pocket. It's the only place that gets enough sun for a garden, because our house is in an oak grove, and I am not cutting those down! Plus, they are mostly white oaks, and we eat the acorns, making flour with them. I want to get some pigs to help us eat them eventually. My area is prone to tricky late frosts, and though I saved my corn and pumpkins by strawing them over, last spring we lost all the cherries, peaches, and half the blueberries. We just have 2 peach trees, 1 cherry and 4 blueberry plants, so it's not as bad as it sounds. I need to find a way to protect it from frost without blocking the little sun that it gets, which is only about from noon to 6pm in the summer. Would raised beds lift my plants out of the frost zone? Should I dig swales on the uphill sides (the garden has a very slight incline) of the beds and make a kind of squiggly chinampa system? Hmmmmm. Sounds like an open invitation for a snake paradise. But water as thermal mass seems very effective, as it remains warmer than the air in the coldest part of the early morning if there is enough of it.
I have almost finished my course with Asheville Permaculture (with Dr. Alan Enzo) and right now, the elements for my design are swirling around in my head while I am collecting info about all of them, so that is my lame excuse for the scattered subject matter. It is going to be scattered for awhile, plus I have kids constantly demanding my attention.
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