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fencing idea for on the ridge of hugels...

Joshua Chambers
Posts: 71
Location: the state of jefferson - zone 7
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My location is a very Mediterranean climate here in the mountains of norther California. We have winters, and a fair bit of snow, but they are mild and mostly sunny, with melting temperatures almost every day most of the winter, and then very hot and dry summers. In a hope of effectively dealing with these dry summers, I am working on a hugelkultur based project. Though it isn't entirely relevant to my question, this project is actually a MAZE of hugelbeds (large ones, about 12' tall, though because of the soil type, not extremely steep, ending up about 50 degrees mostly), with paths about 12' wide. Of course, in Sepp style, fundamental to the design of the maze is the planned regular disturbance of animals, section by section. Since I expect the planned pigs and chickens to readily climb up over the hugelbeds, I am planning to put in fencing, diving the maze into a series of paddocks. This fencing will be primarily along the ridges of the hugelbeds, with of course some of the fencing crossing the paths with gates.

Putting fencing along the ridge of the hugelbeds involves some certain logistical challenges. Particularly, fence posts will not readily be able to be added after the hugels are built, so the fence posts will need to be put in as the hugels are built, possibly just barely in the ground, or even on the ground with the wood of the hugels piles around the posts. And of course the posts need to be EXTREMELY long. With the hugels up to 12' high, assuming a 6' fence above them, I'm looking at up to 20' fence posts. This is quite long and begs the question of what exactly am I going to use for posts!

Of course I could use a rot-resistant wood, idealy the hearts of such trees. We have lots of cedar here, and I could maybe muster some black locust from somewhere not so far away, however this would be a VERY labor-intensive way to do it, especially considering the scale of this project, which is quite significant! Just the single acre I plan to do this spring will have a LOT of fencing (establishing two paddocks of 1/2 acre each). Long metal poles would of course be expensive, but unless I happen to find some that are used and scrap, then this will get VERY expensive very quickly.

So I had another idea that I really would love some feedback from this community, and ideally from Sepp and his team if anyone has an opinion on it. It's a bit crazy, but it just might work. I have access to someone not so very far away with lots and lots of TIMBER BAMBOO. This grows easily more than 20' tall, should be plenty hardy to this climate, and is 3 - 4 inches thick. This would of course make very effective fencing, however I suspect bamboo is quite thoroughly NOT rot-resistant. The only way it would be long-lasting as fencing is if it was ALIVE. So here is my thinking. If I cut fresh 20' sections of this bamboo (or even potentially dig it up with the root ball), and put it in the ground at about ground level or a little bit below before I build the hugel, and then immediately surround 2/3rds of it with wood, and cover that wood with dirt, it would be sticking the appropriate distance above the hugel.

Firstly, do you think it would grow, and survive in this odd situation of being mostly buried? Ideally sprouting roots along it and stabilizing. Secondly, if it grows, do you think it would grow too aggressively? I am intending on a very Sepp-type uber-diverse mix of broadcast plantings on all of these hugels, do you think the growing bamboo would be a problem for this community of plants? Thirdly, if the foregoing two points work out, do you think the bamboo would be tolerant of wire fencing being somehow attached to it, and how do you think I should attach such fencing to the growing, living bamboo?

Thanks for your input!
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