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Mini Hugel...

 
Posts: 18
Location: Silver City, NM ~6500'
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I'm going to be putting quite a number of plants in the ground this spring for a variety of people. Some food, but mostly native (southwest NM) plants. I was wondering what everyone thought about me throwing in a handful of woodchips (probably pine) in the hole before I put the plant in the ground. Is a mini-Hugel possible/beneficial?
 
Posts: 102
Location: Bay Area CA zone 9
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Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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Woodchips can be beneficial for holding moisture but the down fall is wood has a tendency to absorber and lock nitrogen until it starts to break down. You will have to weight the pro's and con's.

Kris
 
Posts: 98
Location: Helena, MT zone 4
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Jess,
Is it possible to run your chips through a hot compost cycle first? The composting process would help relieve some of the concerns of tying up nitrogen. I would strongly suggest not mixing the chips into the soil but placing them at the bottom of the hole much we do with hugelbeds where the wood lies under the mantle of soil. Doing this would reduce the surface area of the chips overall and would likely act more like solid pieces of wood.
I have a similar, extremely dry climate, on my end of the Rockies. I felt good about using chips as my top mulch on all of my hugelbeds last year. I saw some decomposition after one year and fungal hyphae were visible. We had maybe six inches (15 cm) of moisture last year and it's not doing much better here this winter. These chips will break down slowly for sure but they are on their way. Slow and steady often wins the race. Good luck.
 
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