I harvested potatoes from my hugel mound today. I've been in a never ending drought this year, and I really thought my mound would do better than it did. It's in its second full growing season. I built it in the fall of 2019. I got to wondering why the mound shape, instead of just a raised flat bed? I am scratching my head wondering if a lower and flat surfaced bed wouldn't have had a better chance at surviving this drought.
I seemed to have plants doing better the closer they were to the bottom of the mound. The top was a near total loss without lots of watering.
Good morning. I have some experience with this so I’ll try to help. I understood hugelkulturs as more a drought proofing system in the beginning. However, the first year I had one was the wettest summer in memory. Everyone’s else’s gardens died while mine thrived! The next year I was so hooked on permaculture that I moved to the sixteen acres I currently sit on. Hugel’s and swales went everywhere but not all thrived. The ones higher on the property suffered while others slightly lower were amazing. The next fall I started making some flat. I dug as deep as possible and loaded the wood in. I used logs, wood chips, compost and the clay I dug out. Then a layer of compost, grass clippings and fall leaves topped it off for the winter. My regret was not planting a winter cover for spring chop and drop. It still did great though. As it settles a little each year I continue to top off every fall with compost and a mix of winter pea and ryegrass. On the lower side I planted elderberries, strawberries and walking onions. The I use my nifty flat hugels as annual beds. Whether in drought or monsoon these work great for me. Keep us posted on your progress. I’d love to see what you come up with!
I have to agree with Scott…I made low flat hugels for potatoes this year and they are wonderful! I have a glut of nice sized fingerlings.
I do question tall hugels for certain crops and in certain conditions. I don’t think there’s a one answer for this. I think it’s more that you suit the hugel to your crop and environment. It’s a method…
I think one purpose of the tall hump is to provide microclimates. Another is to give the hugel a very long lifetime.
If it had been a rainy season perhaps the top would have done better than the lower levels. Hugels need a lot of extra water their first year or two to help start the green wood decomposition process. Then they become more drought resistant.
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