I am going to put in some small hugulkultur-style beds. These won't be seven feet tall, but could be four. I am imagining they might be 20' long, and 5' wide at the base. My land is basically flat, so I will be digging down some, and also bringing in some soil to get me started. My question is, should I be aligning the beds so they run north-south? This seems logical as if they were east/west you'd had a permanent shadow on the back, but I don't believe I have ever heard Paul talk about alignment in his podcasts.
i'd say a good reason paul has never mentioned alignment is because there is really no proper alignment.
edge is always a good thing and the more edge you can create between hugelbed and normal soil the better but there are benefits to areas that never get much sun in that they retain moisture so much better and may even be great locations to grow gourmet and medicinalmushrooms
that being said IF you were only building ONE bed, i would suggest running it such that one side faces towards the equator South for me, and one towards the pole, North for me, and running iwth the sun, but NOT straight but rather curved as if it were snaking through the landscape, this will yield amazing diversity and as such some great production and resilience
on the one section of hugelkultur i had completed for this summers garden, it ran east-west and curved just a little bit, interestingly, the stuff on the north side grew the best as the sun is to the north in the summer and the south side got hottest but had the most trouble growing, i have also read that north side produce is sweeter and more flavorful whereas southside produce is typically stronger with more of a bite to it, giving yet anopther reason for diversity in design, as diversity in flavor will be the result:)
looks good to me, perhaps you could rotate just a few degrees (depending on how it might look with surrounding landscape) to optimize wind block and organic matter collection, but unless you plant tall plants on the top it doesnt manke too much of a difference with a 4ft or shorter bed, the wind will generally blow over it anyway, though if its steep enough you'll still collect organic matter over time
all and all though its all about what feel right to you, like i said its hard to fail:)
I was considering planting some fast growing leguminous (spelling?) trees along the top to provide something to 'chop and drop' and fix nitrogen. These would also provide some bee food during winter and early spring, which should help pollination (I have two beehives, and looking to get some more in future). The idea would be that these wouldn't be allowed to grow to their full size, perhaps 10-15' at most. Not sure how stable trees are when planted in the top of loose mounds though?