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My experimental "sort of hugelkultur"

 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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As I said, this is an experiment. I realize few people would want something like this in their yard, but I wanted to test it.

The first picture is how I started. I have very hard clay soil, so I only went down 6 or so inches, enough to remove the sod, and built a frame of straw bales.

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The beginning
 
Todd Parr
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Next I filled it with wood of various sizes and ages. Most is poplar from my land.
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Todd Parr
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Then a load of compost, free from a city near me that composts residential waste.
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Todd Parr
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Then punky, rotten wood starts another layer.
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Todd Parr
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Another layer of straw bales.....
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Todd Parr
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More compost.
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Todd Parr
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And finally a layer of wood chips. This was built in the fall and left to age all winter. I'll plant it this spring and post results.
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Todd Parr
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My helpers, without whom I would have finished at least 30% faster, but had 50% less fun. The black guy is the puppy, the brindle is his momma.
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This is an awesome experiment!!! Keep us updated. I wonder how much its gunna shrink over the winter? Its all about experiments....!
 
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Nice ! So two layers of hay bales tall ? I want to see what happens after a couple of years! How much rain do you get?
I hope your compost doesn't have any herbicides in it. I guess that has been happening lately. I got some in a bag a couple of years ago that killed all my seedlings.
 
Todd Parr
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I used straw, but yes, I made it two layers tall. I'm going to plant it this spring and see how it does. At the same time, I think I'll make another straw frame 1 layer deep around this one, leaving a couple of feet between the old frame and the new one. Then I'll fill that in with wood and a few layers of compost. When all is said and done, it should just settle into a big mound.

We get about 33" of rain a year. I'm in WI, so with the cold weather, it hasn't really done much of anything since I built it. I would expect it to break down quite a bit this summer and incorporate the straw bales a big soil mound.

I'm not really worried about the compost. The city picks up all the leaves and grass clippings, etc., and just leaves them in a big pile that they turn with heavy machinery. You just back up and get a pick up load whenever you need it. They also have mountains of leaves. I had a friend sew some king size sheets into big bags, I'm going to bring a few bags of those home too, and start my own leaf mold pile.
 
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Location: Central Texas
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Todd Parr wrote:The city picks up all the leaves and grass clippings, etc.



Not trying to worry you or anything, but those grass clippings could have nasty stuff too. The nasty stuff will break down in compost though, but it might be worth it to test it out first. I hate hearing stories about seedlings being killed by compost--I want to only make my own from now on but without machinery it's a lot of work!
 
Chris Dean
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And I forgot to say...great idea with the strawbale! And don't forget to post updates:)
 
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i like simprlicity. terry oday, at b street, a permaculture project related to pacific university, where the northwest permaculture convergence took place at the beginning of august, puts up bales of straw leaving about 3 feet in the center and maybe 60 feet long. she then puts all the waste from her garden, all the weeds, prunings in the bed over the summer. then in the sring she plants in it. this year when we were there she had squash growing in it. she had not watered the squash and they were growing like gangbusters.

i personally like to put the weeds right down where i take them out to feed the plants but this does not always work (for instance i do not like to feel the thistles so i remove them) also we have a lot of prunings from our orchard so i like this.
 
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