I am getting started with planting my Hugel Beds this spring.
Back in 2011 I gained access to a bunch of soil from a neighbor expanding a pond. I built 5 100' long 5' tall beds.
Because it was the end of summer, I planted them in Annual Rye and White Clover thinking that the mulch and nitrogen would be a good fit.
IN 2012, the beds were covered in a lush white clover mulch, I didnt plant anything else into them.
My plan has been to direct seed some of these beds with veggies and others with some perennials.
As the time to do this is approaching, I am now feeling uncomfortable with how to proceed.
It recently occurred to me that white clover may have been a bad choice for the cover crop, as I now no longer have bare soil in which to broadcast seed.
Should I kill off the entire bed, or maybe just patches? I am unsure about how to kill back a large area of clover, a hundred foot long bed of clover is a lot!
I understand from these forums that it is preferrable to direct seed the beds vs using seedlings?
I have also heard that people will generally mix small seeds together and large seeds together and broadcast them onto the bed. Should this be my plan? I am having a mental block about mixing a bunch of different veggies (lettuce, corn, tomatoes, potato, broccoli, cabbage, Squash, cucumber, carrot, onion.. etc) on a bed.
Will that work alright?
Alternatively, I could raise seedlings of various types and poke them into the clover? Seems like a lot more work than the direct seed method.
I was thinking about planting several of the beds with Raspberry, Blackberry and Strawberry. Is there any way to poly-culture beds with those items in them? They seem like they mostly grow as mono-cultures
and I am not sure what to mix with them.
I have 2 pretty good techniques working with living white clover mulch, which I like to keep in raised beds:
1. Trim the clover down to 2" or so (I use electric string trimmer or electric mower), transplant in things 6" or higher like kale, broccoli, cabbage etc.. That's about all the special care you need for the year if your clover is thick enough to outcompete weeds. You will need a little more water in drought, but that goes to your nitrogen fixer, so it's a fair trade
2. Peel off the clover sheet like an old carpet - this is really easy if you have loose soil and predominantly white clover with shallow roots. If you do this when dry, you can shake off nearly all the soil and then use this clover sheet for mulch: pathways, borders, or even as a lazy alternative to the cutting in #1 (smother live clover with dead clover..) Now you can direct seed the bare area with things like carrot, celery, leeks, mustards, etc. - this is where you scatter seed, rake the top 1" of soil around, and wish those seeds the best. Make sure you do a fairly bad job of getting all the small clover roots - we want those to come back, just slowly.
White clover is great because it doesn't outcompete anything over 6" and mostly outcompetes everything else - plus the roots are shallow and easy to rip out.
One more thing I've found is that self seeding from the year before still works great when removing the clover carpet and shaking - I try to let things vigorously self seed, and a lot of the polyculture design works itself out...
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
posted 7 years ago
Paul has posted multiple videos by Helen Atthowe who has done just that. She also has more on youtube. Pauls videos seem to be the latest and she explains pros and cons with different approaches to planting in clover.
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posted 7 years ago
wayne stephen wrote:Paul has posted multiple videos by Helen Atthowe who has done just that. She also has more on youtube. Pauls videos seem to be the latest and she explains pros and cons with different approaches to planting in clover.
I had seen the Helen Atthow videos in the past. I think I had even decided to go the white clover route vs red clover as it seemed that the red clover was too aggressive for the veggies.
The main difference that I perceive is that knocking back the white clover will be harder on a 6' tall huegel bed than on the flat field planting that Helen was doing.
Thanks all, very helpful.
posted 7 years ago
Regarding direct seeding into full size hugel beds.
I would very much appreciate any experiences with scattering a seed mix with say 20 - 30 varieties of veggies.
This sounds totally wild to me. But if it works well, then it is really awesome! A lot less work then transplanting.
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