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New Hugelkultur Project, lots of questions

 
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I have a bunch of material, but before we start placing, I have questions:

1. Can I use fresh pine tree pruning waste in a blueberry bed.  PSTAY (Pretty Sure The Answer is Yes).
2. Can I use stuff from an old grass clipping compost heap. PSTAY.
3. Can I use twigs and clippings from shrubs. PSTAY. I have a giant 14 foot x 160 ft hedge that I'm going to prune back to 12 feet.
4. I have two trees that are over run with sooty mold (spotted lantern fly epidemic in our area).  I had an arborist tell me that the trees will live as long as I want to put up with how they look (pretty gnarly), and to cut away the dead branches.  He said the only risk to the surrounding plants is physical damage from falling limbs.  The lantern flies don't live in the wood, they just chew into the bark, cause sap drip, and the sooty mold grows on the wet bark.  I'm assuming these limbs could be cut up and placed in the mound, since sooty mold itself isn't a disease, just a condition from the wet bark.  
5. I had an old maple tree stump ground up a few years ago.  Those chips are going in the mound unless I hear different.

Thanks!
 
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Darren, not sure where you are, or if you are going to do hugel mounds or hugel trenches.  

I had trouble with rodents making air tunnels in the mounds, so I switched to trenches which have been excellent.  Everything stays damp, no erosion off the slopes, the soil critters thrive.  Remember, Sepp Holzer had a bulldozer, and that will tell you size of the piles that he was working with.  They are a LOT of work otherwise, and have issues.

Just make sure to fill in air gaps around all the wood.  Manure is also a good addition in a few layers as you go.  Nitrogen from the manure breaks down the carbon of the wood and creates a great environment  for soil critters.

1.  Fresh pine with sap dripping out of it, it's going to take longer than dead pine, so put it the lowest in the pile and spread it thinly.  I would say don't do more than 1/3 of the pile in green pine.  Dead pine is best, soaked in water, or pee if you are a Hugel Warrior :-)

2. and 3.   Grass clippings compost heap, absolutely.  And freshly cut grass, weeds, any brown or green shrub cuttings.  If that's a shrub that will yearly supply you with material, it's a win-win.  You're not just trimming it, you're harvesting it.

4. If you've got disease issues on wood, it needs to be buried deeply so the soil critters and fungi and bacteria can work on it.  Put it on the bottom so it stays wet and covered with manure/soil/leaf, grass cuttings.

5.  Maple chips on top, Back to Eden style, as thickly as you can put them (minimum 2 inches), hide the soil and maintain it at that depth.

Good luck!
 
Cristo Balete
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A point to consider about hugel mounds, if your soil freezes in the winter, the mounds  need to be really wide and not all that high in order to not freeze through.  Not sure exactly what that would be since the ground doesn't freeze where I am, but seeing pictures of Sepp Holzer's mounds in the Alps, made by a bulldozer, they look to be 16 feet (4 meters) wide and 8 feet (2.5 meters) high.  He uses them as windbreaks as well.  He plants fruit trees on them, so the soil must not freeze, but he's also got huge ponds above them that allow not-freezing air to descend onto the mounds.

I think there's a ratio of width to height that works best.  If my guesstimate is right about Holzer, it's 2:1.  Maybe somebody on these forums knows.

I've seen some kind of bizarre pictures of hugel mounds on the internet, almost upside down V shapes just a few feet wide (3 meters) and chest high, and I just don't think that narrow and high a mound could create the kind of bacteria/fungal environment that's needed.  Erosion on those would be just awful.

That's why the trenches take all the guess work out of it.  Ma Nature takes care of what's underground, and we don't have to learn by mistake.  The first hugel mounds I made 20 years ago were exhausting to do, even for a younger me, and they weren't small, but the rodents just won that battle!  As they almost always do!  And in a Mediterranean climate like mine, they dried out constantly, which defeats the whole process.
 
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If you're cosnsidering adding a path, this could be a nice run throguh to watch: https://youtu.be/HwktPhJ43kU
 
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