I'm new to all of this. Please tell me what trees are good for starting a hugelkulture bed for vegetables, herbs and berries. I live in NE Arkansas and there are lots of "rotten" trees available. Hardwoods, conifers and the like if this area. Please someone help me!!!
I too am new to permaculture and hugelkulture, but have read that you want to avoid using conifer, pines, and other evergreen pine needle trees. There is a chemical compound that inhibits the growth of non-evergreen pine plants (Allelopathic). Plus the pine needles are acidic and change the soil pH.
Howdy Davis, welcome to Permies! There is tons of info here so take your time. You should be sure to read Pauls article ,which Brett posted above. I think Conifers are OK as Paul says in the article "Pine and fir will have some levels of tanins in them, but I'm guessing that most of that will be gone when the wood has been dead for a few years." So hugel away and be sure to post pictures and results so we can all learn together!
I live in north Louisiana and pine trees are the most available source of wood. I have placed newly fallen pine tree at the bottom and well rotted pine on the top. My hugelkultures seem to do well. I avoid cedar and cypress (also readily available) so I can't say how it they do. I have heard different opinions on whether or pine straw (needles) acidify the soil or not, I use it on my acid loving blueberries but I use wood chips or other mulch on plants that prefer a more neutral soil.
Davis Austin wrote:I'm new to all of this. Please tell me what trees are good for starting a hugelkulture bed for vegetables, herbs and berries. I live in NE Arkansas and there are lots of "rotten" trees available. Hardwoods, conifers and the like if this area. Please someone help me!!!
I agree with the mantra "pine is fine"
and I'm just about convinced it may be preferred where building soil is concerned.
True, it is a soft wood, and you want hugelbeds to last a long time, but
I stumbled upon this guy's real world experiences recycling Christmas trees and
came away very impressed.
Who knows what it is... the sugar content? Rapid break down? Calcium in the bark? Moisture held up in all those needles? Vitamin C content?
Between those two I have zero reservations about pine. I even think the jury is out on allelopathy for me. So far, everything I've planted from seed under my pinon pines has germinated and grown well, and there's a pile of duff down there that I copped here and there from the nearby woodlands.
The plants includes...
alyssum, coriander, runner beans, and fava beans. And I want to try many more things under the pines. Pinon is not so dense a tree that it crowds out all of the light.
That first link also debunks the soil acidification theory for pine needles, which I also agree with.
Pine needles, in and of themselves, are slightly acidic. That is... about 6.5 according to the article, though I once tested some chopped ponderosa pine straw at 6.3.
Very close to his claim though.
The main thing to remember is that all organic materials biodegrade down to a near neutral pH, no matter how acidic or alkaline they begin at.
It is primarily the mineral content of a soil that determines the pH level.
Hope this helps.
Permaculture: The Edge is the New Center
Taos, New Mexico / Carson, New Mexico / 7000ft / zones 5,6 / Soil: Servilleta-Hernandez / Avg. 13" precip per annum