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seeking Zone 4 hugelkultur interview

 
Amy Grisak
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Hello!

I'm writing an article on using hugelkultur in colder climates, and would love to speak with someone on your experiences with it. I have my own hugelkultur bed going in my Great Falls, Montana garden, but can't give a good representation on how it'll perform since it's the first year. Anyone game to talk? Send me a message on when a good time to chat over the phone might be.

Thanks!
Amy

www.amygrisak.com
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I live in a zone 4/5 area of Michigan and have some small, short hugelkulture type beds. I haven't had the materials, strength or equipment to build the large ones like Sepp Holtzer does, but I do bury logs and wood cuts and bark in areas of my gardens.

This year as you probably are aware, we had a horrible drought. The areas where the wood was buried did fare much better than the areas where it was not, even if the wood was buried there this spring.

I have some older areas where I had buried a lot of bark from firewood, and those areas aren't doing quite as well as they did a few years back, when they were doing quite well, I think the bark doesn't last as long in a hugel bed. I have areas where I have buried 24" long cuts of aspen wood, and they seem to be holding moisture quite well and the plants are growing very well, even with the drought and very little mulch (as my ability to gather mulch {no truck now} does not equal my needs for mulch).

I have however noticed enough benefit to where I plan to continue to bury more and more aspen logs in the garden as my strength allows and the area is available for planting.

I have some areas that are planted to annuals at this time, that will be dug and planted with logs as I harvest the annuals, however, i generally don't do it the same as the hugelkulture instructions..

I dig down, remove the soil aside, lay in the logs a couple layers deep, replace the soil, plant and mulch as mulch is available..which is never enough.

this spring I dug 6 beds that had jerusalem artichokes in them, it took me months to get all the stragglers out of the jerusalem artichokes, so I was a bit afraid to put the logs in right away. A couple of the areas I did put the logs in and then replanted over them with some perennials and annuals..One bed had an established cherry tree and some asparagus, and I left those flat, and dug north of there to put in the logs (minus the jerusalem artichokes) and put the soil back on. I transplanted 3 struggling currants and 2 struggling honeyberries and planted some summer squash seeds under them..they have been growing wildly, the currants and honeyberries are growing nicely even through the drought (and a few straggling jerusalem artichokes are being pulled out from there as i see them)..

another couple of tiny beds were dug out and poplar logs put in and then some annual seeds put on top, squash, amaranth, podding radish, etc..and they are all growing much better than those elsewhere in the garden..but this was only done in June here.

two of the beds I had put in a lot of bark and compost were badly taken over by quackgrass and will have to be redug, and one has some horseradish in it which is impossible to remove..that one I plan to put in a baby tree of some sort, as it won't be good for annuals of any kind with the horseradish in there..and quackgrass..I'll probably do that one over in the spring (or possibly this fall) as it will be a lot of work getting all the quackgrass out.

the other 4 beds that had the bark buried have small trees in them, 3 have apples and one has a cherry, I have herbs, multiplying onions, chives and a few other things planted around them, and they are doing fairly well, but we did have a drought problem in those beds ..think the logs would work better than the bark and i hope to dig some holes around the perimeter and add logs to the holes to provide better moisture holding and food for the trees. All 4 of the trees had leaf loss during the drought but have survived.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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