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Opuntia (or other cacti/succulents) as source of hugelkultur material

 
James Slaughter
Posts: 94
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Just wondering if anyone has tried this? Would think this would be the way to go, especially for desert climate gardens. I have seen reports about using it as a surface mulch (once chopped to avoid avoid resprouting), and it is highly effective in this role. The fact that it is slow to rot (in my experience, I put succulent clippings in my worm farm to help even out moisture content) and holds so much moisture would potentially give plants growing above a slow release source of water.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3352
Location: woodland, washington
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I like the idea. woody plants are much more plentiful where I'm at, but in arid regions, I think it's definitely worth a try. especially if a problem species is used.
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
Posts: 166
Location: Yucatan Puebla Ontario BC
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Some species of Opuntia are endangered it would be wise to make sure your not killing off a regional subspecies. Sugaro cactus is protected as well I think.
Great idea though I never thought of my Nopales being used for mulch. I have seen younger pads rot fast, real fast turning into a patch of slippery slime.
 
James Slaughter
Posts: 94
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http://www.northwestweeds.nsw.gov.au/prickly_pear_history.htm -

May be a bit of a read, I'll cut to the relevant bit I was thinking about "By 1920, prickly pear was completely out of control, infesting some 60 million acres of land in New South Wales and Queensland. It was estimated at the time that the pear was spreading at the rate of one millions acres a year. "

They did fix it.

"the answer to the main prickly pear problem came in the form of biological control. As the amazing spread of prickly pear in eastern Australia was considered to be one of the botanical wonders of the world, its virtual destruction by cactoblastis caterpillars (Cactoblastis cactorum) is still regarded as the world's most spectacular example of successful weed biological control."

I am however talking more about growing tough succulent type species of plants for this purpose. Many succulent species of plants are just sooo amazing in times of drought, not only in just holding out for times of rain, but in still giving something back to the species around them in the form of nectar from flowers, or from offering biomass to be eaten or consumed by the species hanging on. Euphorbia is another potentially awesome plant for this purpose, the idea of the desert "hedgerow". Anyone else have some ideas as to species for such an approach? Imagine a hedge that is grown for this purpose and as it progresses over the land gradually changes the soil, improving it for the next "guild" of species behind it. A rolling, "terraforming" guild of species that could regreen deserts and provide shelter and food for the previously struggling species.

Cheers.
 
chrissy bauman
Posts: 131
Location: Sunset Zone 27, Florida
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In Mexico the Opuntia ficus-indica (Common Prickly Pear Cactus) is used as a natural hedgerow to keep cattle in, also it is edible to people once the spines are removed and the pad is cooked. It is also a fodder for cattle once the spines are removed, but only used when the weather is so arid that there is no other feed.
have you tried the fruit? it's used for wine, juice, liquor, and jelly.
i've tried to plant some here in my yard in florida, which must get too much water for the newly rooted plants, because i have trouble twice now with the pads rotting.
As for using it for hugelkutur, of course you can! especially if you had a lot of it. Opuntia ficus-indica is in no danger of extinction. my renter neighbors even have some. the plants are not toxic nor phytotoxic.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8851
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Ocotillo, agave (edible by humans), sotol (edible by humans)
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1271
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I have experienced it!
I asked the same question in the HK post, but with no answer, I think we have to try.
I know someone around who did put pads' pieces in the big hole to plant olive trees.

I do mulch and will take pics of my fig tree with "tunera".
I have big humps, that could not rot, as the rain never came, so they produce a lot of little pads, that we have to cut again...
And I have started to bury some, in little bits.

Interesting info: you get as much carbon with opuntia than with wheat straw
...but with 3 times less water to produce it!
So I keep my opuntia roots as much as possible, and will harvest them for carbon.
 
Consider Paul's rocket stove mass heater.
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