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are flat beds as good as bell curved shaped?

 
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First things first: Paul Wheaton, thank you for this excellent store of knowledge. I take possession of a 20 acre farm in Arlington in two weeks, and you and the others here have already saved me from making a large number of poor decisions and bad, expensive mistakes. I"ll make many more as I'm a total rookie, but at least I feel you've launched me in the right direction. Look forward to using this as a resource.

Quick question (to anyone): does hugelkultur necessarily need to be shaped with a bell curve? Might one reap the same benefits using a more "common" flat, raised bed layout (higher, of course, to accomodate the layers of wood, soil, etc., but still flat across the top)? I can see how the bell-curve makes it easier to plant and harvest (no bending over, etc.) but I must admit that, at first impression, I'm not wild about the aesthetics. I'd also plan to grow lots of root vegetables and would be concerned about all the dirt sliding downhill after digging, etc. I can see that the bell curve shape prevents the need for retaining walls, etc....

Thanks for any guidance. Just a newbie questioning accepted practice.

Thanks again for everyone's tremendous generosity here.
 
Posts: 375
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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My understanding is that the bell curve increases growing space by a factor of .5 so that while you don't need it, it helps by making more space to grow things.
 
Posts: 288
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Flat beds will also compact more rapidly.
 
Donald Summers
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ah. right. flat beds+ couple years = holes in ground = bad.

thank you.
 
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Location: Eugene, OR, USDA zone 8b
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It depends on your climate. Raised beds dry out and warm up faster, which is nice if you have heavy soil that stays cold and wet longer than you'd like, but may not be so great if you live somewhere with little rainfall and/or high temperatures. Also, flat beds shouldn't end up as holes in the ground after a couple years with proper soil management, they should stay the same level if you are maintaining fertile soil or end up slightly raised if you are building the soil.
 
Joanne Gross
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Location: Eugene, OR, USDA zone 8b
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Never mind my previous comment, I didn't read your post thoroughly. I would imaging that the gentler slopes in a curved huglelkulture bed would have less soil erosion that the more angular sides of a flat-topped bed.
 
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