My question is this: I was just given the go ahead to cultivate on 15 acres of woodland ( which we are clearing parts of now with low impact methods and making mushroom stumps - fall work I know...)
We want to get the hugels ready for planting on Aug. 1 for fall crops my question is should I build them closer to august and sow my veg or make them sooner and throw a summer cover like buckwheat or sudangrass (meh, probably not sudangrass) before we plant our fall crops.
New to the hugelkultur any advice on covercrops being utilized on these beds would be of great value to me !!!
There are a couple of options that popped into my mind. I've placed the wood and then let it sit and soak up rain, like Miles suggested, then completed the hugel when I'm ready to plant it. I have also made the entire hugel and then covered it heavily with mulch (I use pine straw) so weeds cannot set in. Of course you can, as you mentioned, go ahead and plant a cover crop, this just seems like added work to me because the hugel will be rich with nutrients without having to plant and then turn the first crop. The only thing I would not do is complete it and then plant later because you will get erosion of the soil and lots of weeds (I know because I did this and it was a mistake).
Personally, I would plant a mixed cover crop on it.
Each family of plants will add its own set of microbes to the soil - the more the merrier.
Buckwheat, in SC could give you a lot of biomass. In that climate, buckwheat should be 30 days from seed to mow...time for 3-4 crops. Legumes would feed enough nitrogen to replace what the decomposing wood is consuming. Mustard (a Brassica) is also a good contributor.
Buckwheat is often used as a smother crop since it grows so fast it will shade out anything under it. Because of that, I would recommend letting everything else sprout before you seed the Buckwheat.
Good luck with your project.
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