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What is too much conifer?

 
Mikki Proffitt
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Hi, I am rather new to Hugelkultur and am very excited about it. I am in Arizona and it is HOT here! I am sure these hugelkulturs I am building will do great. I do have a couple questions and hope someone with experience can help.
1. How much conifer is too much conifer in a hugelkultur?
We were fortunate enough to have LOADS of lovely mulch, wood chips and logs dropped off by a local tree maintenance company. However, there is a large amount of pine, juniper and maybe cedar in it. It's hard to tell once its all chipped up. I am trying to avoid using it but it's mixed in very well.
2. I have read that the taller the better for a hugelkultur. I am hesitant to build one really tall because of how hot and dry it is here. I have done two where I started with a hole in the ground added wood, then mulch on top, then the soil. Does anyone have experience with this? I am pretty much going on intuition with the basic idea of the hugelkultur.
I would appreciate any feed back.
Thanks!
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Mikki, here is a thread that talks about the types of wood people are using in hugels...

http://www.permies.com/t/12206/hugelkultur/Hugelkultur-Good-wood-Bad-wood

There are several reasons that folks talk about the height. They help block wind, create shade and microclimates. Some have said that when they are too high that harvesting the top becomes a problem.

They don't have to be tall, you just have to weigh out the pros and cons of high VS low in your area.
 
Mikki Proffitt
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Thank you Miles! I actually did read through that thread prior to posting, but was still so unclear as to how much conifer is too much. I have gathered it's more of a" it doesn't rot very fast thing" versus a " nothing will grow on it" thing. So I guess I will use the mulch sparingly on one bed and heavy on another and see what happens. Nothing like a little experimentation to put one's own mind to rest. Here in the desert we have (to my limited knowledge) few varieties of trees to work with and pine is a very popular one. Is there anyone who has had experience with how hugelkulturs do in the desert using trees such a palo verde, eucalyptus and palm.
Thank you also for the insight on height. Just intuitively a very tall one seems not wise for the climate and area I live in. And as I am not overly tall myself planting and harvesting the top could pose a problem. I appreciate your time. I am enjoying the website very much!
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I will use pine, as this is THE wood here...
Or else I have to fetch wood from elsewhere, and this is not so great...

I will not do humps, as I can burry it:
I am actually building walls, and I want to put wood at the bottom.
So I try pine, and I will report my results afterwards...

I want to maintain humidity when it does not rain for 4-5 months.
As I lack soil, I will put some from outside, and it will be with clay (my soil does not have clay)

Clay will be mixed with my rocky soil, and with pine logs.

I have to find a topic about % of logs and depth!
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho
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It seems as though most folks in desertie areas go with more of an inverted/sunken hugel in order to mitigate the lack of precip, decicating winds, and just plain old heat. I've built a couple hugels with predominantly conifer wood (pine and fir). Going into my second season on one of them and it is doing fine. The problem I see with the cedar is that it will stifle fungal growth for a while until things compost down a bit. Shouldn't be too much of a problem in the long run, but you probably won't see your best results for four or five years instead of two or three.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Dave Redvalley wrote: folks in desertie areas go with more of an inverted/sunken hugel in order to mitigate the lack of precip, decicating winds, and just plain old heat

I'm not even in an arid environment, but traditional hugels don't work in my sand and wind-
buried wood does though
hugelkultur-hot-arid-climate
 
Earl Aarsrood
Posts: 14
Location: Wisconsin zone 3/4
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Pine is fine for the most part. It will increase the acidity of the soil, which can be troublesome depending on what your planting. Ask if anyone has a brush pile from some deciduous trees that you take away from them. It doesn't need to be much (20% or less is okay), but will provide different micronutrients and also limit the tannins of the pine. If you can't, then just build your hugel with just pine. It will work. I think mine are about 60% pine and spruce.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've been pursuing the simple plan of burying the worst stuff at the very bottom. Only nice cottonwood and alder near the surface. The plants can reach where they will. Undesirable woods can sit there out of where most growth occurs and hold water while they slowly break down and become less toxic..
 
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