I am really enjoying the process of excavating the future site of my first hugel bed. I have spent about 2 years in the "observe" phase thinking about where it should be and I have finally settled on a good spot. Today we took down the long dead black walnut that was there. It is quite beyond the state of usable wood. It was delightful to see the ring of rich black soil that surrounded the trunk under the ground. Since the juglone is not concentrated in the trunk and it has been so long, I am going to go with it as a site. We shall see.
A big plus for this spot is that it already was lumpy and bumpy and could not be mowed so it was full of the roots of invasives that kept invading the nearby blueberries. The asian bittersweet and asian honeysuckle are tree chokers that I am eager to replace with more harmonious companions. A blessing of the new global-warming winters- ground not frozen solid so I can take the toddlers out and let them dig and muck about as I remove invasive roots:) An unexpected plus is the fact that as I excavate I find that there are a lot of lovely large stones not too far below the surface that I can use for edging beds- no urbanite needed:)
I am planning to bury mostly well-rotted logs and have the beds raised not-too-high, partly for the aesthetics of the chi-chi neighborhood that my raggedy farm is oddly placed in, and partly because I see drought as a likely component of upcoming years.
I am planning to plant a mulberry and some elderberries in this bed. I have access to a mature mulberry tree, so I will add a few scoops of soil from there. I am hoping that with so many nice berries the birds will leave some for us. Here is one question- should I plant a cover crop or mulch heavily for the first year or two before planting the trees and bushes, or can I pop them right in in the spring?
Here is another question- another reason for the choice of location is the opportunity to create a bit more privacy. Am I better off making a larger bed covering he whole area or would it make more sense to make two smaller beds and just have them right where I want them exactly?
I am having a lot of fun with this. I put myself to bed at night thinking of digging and rotting and planting.
I do plan on bringing in some new soil, but I am not removing any. It has been years since the walnut was alive. I have a friend who teaches horticulture at the local university and he said "eh, it should be fine" Other thread say 2-3 months- that seems quick to me!
elderberries are on one tolerant list I saw. I can't find anything on mulberries, but maybe it doesn't matter?
Gravity is a harsh mistress. But this tiny ad is pretty easy to deal with: