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Skwirrelkultur

 
                            
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I put a lot of work into my hugelbeet. It is submerged in a trench 80 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet deep ...all hand dug. It originally extended 4 feet above the surface (that's 8 feet total wood depth!), but has settled down to 3 feet tall now, a year after construction.

I am very frustrated because it now houses a huge population of ground squirrels. They have hollowed it out and it looks very much like a cave dweller colony. Any time I look out at the bed, I can spot at least half a dozen squirrels digging it up. Although I have a drip line running across the top of the bed, it is MUCH drier than my traditional in-ground garden. The squashes that I planted on the hugelbeet 4 months ago are still struggling, while the ones I planted directly in the ground just 2 months ago are 3 times the size. I imagine that between the bed having more surface area exposed to wind and being hollowed out on the inside, the water evaporates very quickly. My efforts to keep the bed mulched are defeated by the constant digging from the squirrels. There are more exposed logs than there is soil on the surface. The only greenery that seems to do well is the hairy vetch cover crop, but that has mostly settled along the base of the bed where the soil ends up. Every so often, I will toss more soil and mulch on the surface in an attempt to reestablish some growing surface. I'm starting to feel embarrassed every time my neighbors drive by and see me toiling away at this fruitless eyesore.

My in-ground non-hugel bed cost me very little effort. I spread a few inches of compost, laid down some drip line, covered with wood chips, and direct seeded. I did not til the soil or do any digging whatsoever. I planted the entire garden in one weekend and have spent zero hours weeding or doing any sort of maintenance. It is healthy and makes me proud.

Is huglekultur just the wrong technique in an area with large squirrel populations? Growing straight in the ground seems to work very well here, so that old "don't fix what ain't broke" expression is coming to mind.

By the way, I am in Southern California where we have very little rainfall - about 13 inches a year and almost all in the late winter/early spring. The soil is decomposed granite.
 
Paul Schmidt
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Needs more soil. I've found that you need more soil than you took out to fill up a hugel bed properly. I dug a swale at the same time that I put in a hugel bed and used the extra topsoil from the swale to cover the hugel.

If you have a cat that likes to hunt, put him out where the hugelbed is at, and he'll help you with the squirrels. I assume the squirrels are nesting in the interior of the bed because there is an airpocket in there that they like to hang out in. All you can do is add more soil and wait for it to settle.

You could try applying liberal amounts of pepper wherever you see a squirrel hole. Or use sepp holzer's bone salve. This might make them rethink living there.
 
                            
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I could cook down some squirrels to make some bone sauce {evil laughter}.
 
                            
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I started off with a 4 foot deep trench. All of the soil that was in it was replaced by wood. So, I did start off with a lot of soil coverage. After the first round of settling and squirrel excavation, I brought in two 8 foot pickup truckloads of topsoil from my local municipal compost facility (yuck!)

I think your suggestion of adding more soil along with squirrel repellent could work, but my point is that this is a ton of work. If I want to add more soil now, I wold need to haul it in from off site. I didn't need to do any of that for my other garden. When geoff lawton visited this area, I had a chance to ask him his opinion about hugelkultur. He said he hadn't tried it himself, but he thought that this area is just too dry for it too work well. He also thought that because of our lack of any winter freeze, the wood would decompose too quickly and decrease the return on the investment. Not to mention, we have a lot of subterranean termites around here.

I've got a lot invested in this, so I'm not giving up yet. I will re-bury it - again, because what else can I do. Maybe it will improve with more time.

One other thing to mention: My whole property has a large squirrel population. I have a lot of dead tree stumps lying around. That is where they tend to make their homes - other than my hugelbeet. There is something about buried wood that attracts them.

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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yikes, ground squirrels, are the edible??

I too have a dry area at the top of my hugelbed east of my house, and the squash in that area are also suffering...even in our "wettest spring in history"
 
                            
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By the way, I don't mean to imply that hugelkultur in general is a failure. I'm just saying that my experience so far has been discouraging. It's all an experiment and different tricks work or don't work depending on the conditions and goals. I have heard many positive testimonials. I just think that between the dry weather, dry soil, and presence of underground jerks, it seems to create more challenges for me than it does solve problems. The main problem I was trying to solve with hugelkultur was to cut down on irrigation. A nice thick layer of mulch seems to do an amazing job at improving soil moisture. I have lots of material on site to make mulch and it requires minimal effort. I would encourage everyone to try hugelkultur along with many other techniques and see which works best for you.

And yes, squirrels are edible. I have eaten the rabbits (a bit gamey), but haven't sampled the squirrels yet. It's kind of nice to know they are around if I ever get that hungry.
 
John Brownlee
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I just recently heard someone talking about a way to get rid of moles and voles. He said to set up Raptor perches around the property which basically consists of a large wooden T about 6 feet tall. this should encourage birds of prey to hang out in the area. I wonder if you put one near your garden bed if you wouldn't just allow the predators to do the dirty work for you.
 
                            
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There are some HUGE ancient sycamore trees on the property - well over 100 feet tall. One of them has a very large nest inhabited by two red tail hawks. They have babies every year. They can be seen hunting the property every day and they do carry off many squirrels.

On the other end of the property, there is a large dead avocado tree. At night, both barn owls and great horned owls use this tree as a perch. There are also many tall trees and telephone poles. The raptors love it here. There is already a lot of competition between them. I have witnessed the great horned owls carry out an attack on the red tailed hawk nest. The took their eggs this year. So, I already have a thriving raptor population. They are territorial, so there isn't room for any more.

I think the squirrels like the hugelbeet so much because it provides shelter from the raptors. They like the overturned tree stumps for the same reason. I have noticed they always post a sentry on a stump. When a predator shows up (like me), the sentry sounds the alarm (sounds like "Cheep! Cheep!") and they all dive into their holes. They are very smart and well organized. They just breed too prolifically for the raptors to keep up.

I think the key is to make the areas where I grow stuff less appealing to them - which is the opposite of what a pile of wood does.
 
Tim Burrows
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I bet lots of people would love a hugelbed squirrel harvester as a source of meat. But it sounds to me that it is drying up because of too much air pockets, I would try digging the soil from around the edges of the beds and mounding it up on top making your beds taller at the same time....I love tall beds, the taller the better! Once the air cannot circulate your bed should hold more moisture then the ground....goodluck!
 
Micky Ewing
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Location: Merrickville, Ontario
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While I admire your energy, I think you should take the permaculture principle of using small, slow solutions to heart. I think this principle gets ignored a lot, with the likes of Paul Wheaton and Sepp Holtzer extolling the virtues of track hoes and bulldozers. David Holmgren, on the other hand, writes a lot about doing things at a more human scale and pace. A good part of your frustration springs, no doubt, from the enormous effort you put in at the outset to build such a large bed (though it might not impress the track hoe crowd). A great benefit of the small, slow solutions principle is that it naturally limits the energy and expense wasted in going down a wrong path. A ten foot bed might have revealed the difficulties you are encountering with much less effort and given you the opportunity to tinker with things at a more manageable scale. Or the current raptor population might have been adequate to suppress the smaller ground squirrel population, in which case you would now be growing a nice crop for your efforts.

What's done is done, of course, but the small, slow approach is still applicable here. First, the small part. Apply potential fixes to small segments of your bed. Not only will you save effort if the fix doesn't work, but you have a built-in scientific experiment. An untreateed control plot right next to your treated plot will let you accurately assess effectiveness.

Now the slow part (so many of us lose it here because the rapid pace of our industrial society has caused our patience muscles to attrophy). Maybe don't try anything for a year or two. See who else shows up and joins your hawks and owls to partake of the abundant food. Or see if the accomodations suit these guys less well when the wood has rotted a little more and the air gaps close up some. The reason procrastination is such a common behavior in people is that it really does tend to save a lot of work. Put things off a little and see if this problem solve itself.

And try not to worry about what the neighbors are thinking. A gardener's got to be willing to fail, 'cause it's going to happen anyway.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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As Micky says, I'd take it slow and see if the problem resolves itself as the bed settles. Also, in the meantime look into harvesting a few of those ground squirrels - if they are anything like the tree squirrels we have here in the UK they will be pretty tasty.

Think how much effort other permies are putting into raising their own meat (chickens, goats etc...) - you now have a free and easy supply!

Mike
 
                            
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For what it's worth, this is my second hugelbeet. The first one was built December 2010. It was only 10 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall. I irrigated it the first year, but found that it didn't retain any more moisture than any other part of the land. The only reason I built the big one was that somebody suggested that the small one wasn't retaining moisture because it was TOO SMALL, and that to build up more moisture I would need to build it MUCH BIGGER. So, I abandoned the small one to work on the big one. I excavated part of the small one yesterday. It is still bone dry inside. There are no weeds growing on it. If I see weeds sprout up on it some day, I will assume that it has finally started to retain moisture and then I will attempt to plant it again.

The smaller one didn't have the squirrel problems the big one has. I think that might be because it is all smaller pieces of wood that settle down more and don't provide the large hollow spaces. The big bed has many 1 and 2 foot diameter logs in it. So, I think the squirrels are able to create bigger spaces between the wood. The squirrel population is already abundant throughout the property; Making a pile of wood draws them to the exact spot where I want to grow food. Otherwise, they tend to inhabit the tree stumps, away from where I am growing things.

It is my observation that any time the ground is raised, whether it's a hugelbeet or a natural berm in the landscape, there is a dry spot. Any time there is a depression (AKA swale), it is moister than the surrounding areas. Looking around my land, the depressions are marked by enhanced greenery and the high spots are marked by exposed, sandy dirt. It doesn't make sense to me to spend a lot of labor creating a high spot when I know that in itself works against what I have observed to promote moisture AND attracts pests.

Micky, I agree with your advice, and I think that is the point I was attempting to make. My flat beds, covered with compost and mulch, were a small investment of time and labor and gave me some immediate yield. In my situation heavy mulch seems to do a much better job at moisture retention than the hugelbeets, and does not attract squirrels (scorpions are attracted to the mulch, but they don't destroy my plants and haven't stung me yet). If I had heeded my own observations and successful expermients, I would have just continued to observe my small hugelbeet longer, and meanwhile continued to mulch and compost and harvest on level ground. I got sucked into the idea that hugelkultur was something that EVERYONE should be doing - and the bigger the better. I don't doubt that it produces excelent results for many people. I just wanted to add to the dialog that it may not be the best solution for every situation. If time proves otherwise, I will keep you all updated.
 
                            
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As far as squirrel supply for meat, the entire property has always been teaming with squirrels, so I didn't gain anything by adding the hugelbeet. They normally make their homes under the tree stumps, rather than where I'm growing things. I shoot about 2 a day on average; the population is endless. The easiest way to get them is to sit within sight of a stump (or the hugelbeet!) and wait for their little heads to pop up. I leave them where they are and the hawks, owls and coyotes collect them within half a day. Ground squirrels aren't as big as tree squirrels. They are closer to the size of a rat, which makes them unappetizing to me. I would need at least 3 or 4 squirrels per person to have enough meat for a meal. By the time you remove the skin, guts, head and bones, there isn't much meat left. I've eaten a laying hen that wasn't laying anymore. She was much bigger than a squirrel. There was only enough to boil into soup stock, but nothing to really sink your teeth into.

If I wanted to harvest meat, I'd rather go for the plentiful rabbits. They are big and meaty. I ate one once but didn't enjoy it enough to make it a habit. I get pretty much all of my animal protein from my DELICIOUS free range chicken eggs anyway.



Try to visually remove the head, tail, legs, pelt, guts and bones... not much left to eat.
 
Joshua Chambers
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Location: the state of jefferson - zone 7
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The first hugelbeet I built was in the shape of a circle with a small opening on one side, kinda like a horseshoe. We're in a pretty dry climate with a fair bit of wind on that site, and I've noticed that some of the areas on it are doing vastly better than other areas. Also, as I built another one, where the one shelters the other, the growth improves, so I'm thinking that wind breaking is going to be key with hugelbeet.

With the squirrel issue though, this may not be the best technique for your site. The tool of sepp holzer for you that sounds more appropriate is the crater garden and the high bed, often made in conjunction. This would serve to get down in the ground, as well as create a wind block above, eh?

--Joshua
 
                            
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Yes, I think kraterkultur is definitely better in these parts. I have already been taking advantage of the natural depressions and east facing slopes (don't have much facing north) in my land since they retain MUCH more moisture than anything exposed to the hot afternoon sun.

My skwirrelbeet does retain moisture at the base of the side that gets the least sun, and the trees just downhill of it definitely get some benefit. I think the hugelbeet/swale design (remember, it is in a trench 4 feet deep) act very much like the swales in Greening the Desert. The water from the hugelbeet has to go somewhere, and much f it seems to be perking downslope to water my trees. So, it is not a total loss. It's just that with the squirrels pooping on my party, I probably would have been better off with a plain old swale.
 
eric kampel
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Our climate sounds similar. 10 inches of rain per year, windy and dry. I am going to dig some hugelkultur beds all the way into the ground 6 feet deep, dump the wood and leaves in, and cover. That way the wind won't be driving against the side of the bed. Plus I think by burying the bed into the ground, I'll get a little more heat from the earth since I am not in southern CA, I am in Montana.
 
Josh T-Hansen
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Thanks for sharing OP, that is an incredible amount of digging. awesome details and some valuable lessons to be found throughout the thread even for other climates. Maybe it will be fertile in a few more years.
 
                            
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By the way, I also dug a 100 foot long trench, only about 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep. The purpose of that one was to stop water that was flowing over the edge of an embankment and causing severe erosion during heavy rains (which is pretty rare). I filled the lower half with chunks of old firewood and branches. The upper half has a layer of broken terra cotta shingles covered up with coarse gravel so I can drive a golf cart over it. I guess you could call it a bioswale. The squirrels love that one too, but I don't care because it's only purpose is to stop the water before it runs down the slope. I does what I wanted it to, but I am so done with digging trenches!
 
                            
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I just had a brain fart and thought I'd share some more. What would you think about covering the entire hugelbeet in chicken wire? I could buy stucco netting which is the same thing, but cheaper:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Davis-Wire-36-in-x-150-ft-Steel-Stucco-Netting-59234/202094282#.UbdGPfmcx8E

Two rolls would cover the whole thing for about $100. I think this would keep the squirrels out as well as help the soil stick to the sides better. I wouldn't be able to grow root crops, but I could still do greens, squashes, herbs, or anything else where I only want to harvest the part above ground.
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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I am in the same boat as you - arid land with lots of rodents (rock squirrels, ground squirrels, wood rats, rabbits...)

I bury logs and wood slash more haphazard than normal hugelkultur. Too much and I get the same results as you.

The stucco mesh might help, but I wouldn't be surprised if the critters just extend their burrows to the edge of the mesh...

 
Josh Pasholk
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Do you have a pond on the area? I don't know too much about this stuff yet but from what I've read and know about Sepp and Paul, They'd probably build a pond, Sepp would build a lake if you had the space. I know this seems like a lot of work but it seems like it would be a viable option for retaining moisture. Also the wind breaks sound like a good idea.
 
Ardilla Esch
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He's in southern California so he's looking at potential evapotranspiration values that are significantly greater than precipitation. There is a good chance a constructed pond would turn into a salt pan.
 
                            
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True Ardilla. Also, My soil is so well drained that sealing the pond would require some sort of sealer. When Paul Wheaton was here, he told me I could do it by heavily compacting the ground under the pond using a track hoe. I personally don't like the idea of bringing in heavy equipment. Ponds also require some flat ground, and since I am mostly on a slope, any flat ground I do have is very valuable to me.

Josh, I think you have the right idea, but in my situation, I think the hugelbeet serves the same purpose. Remember, it sits inside of a 4' x 4' x 80' trench, so it does absorb a lot of water. From there, the water perks downhill to where I have fruit trees. Any water that makes it past or around the fruit trees gets caught by a bioswale, which is a 3' x 3' x 100' trench, where the uphill third is filled with well drained materials that lead it into the lower part that is filled with rotten wood, branches, old hay, etc. Below that, I will have more trees that will use any water that perks down below that. I think the idea is that the trees I have growing below these two trenches will eventually form a root web that will further increase the water holding capacity of the soil So, I'm sort of doing the same thing as a pond, but I'm trying to store the water BELOW ground.

I think this will work... I just need to get the critters off the surfaces of these structures so that I can keep them mulched, and in the case of the hugelbeet, so that I can grow stuff on it.

If I had to do it again, I think I would have just made swales to catch and absorb the water. I had a ton of wood to get rid of - there were about 100 dead trees standing on the property when I got it. Maybe I could have just piled them up to make wind breaks and LET THE SQUIRRELS HAVE IT and grow my food somewhere else. I would have rather left the dead trees standing in place, but both my neighbors and my wife complained that they were an eyesore.
 
Andrew Schreiber
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Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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I have had the same problem with our hugel beds that are in our zone 3 area. Totally a squirrel condo... It was really frustrating at first. But then I started trapping them and got a load of squirrels, which is yield, no doubt! we let flies inoculate them and do a hanging-bucket method. Works well enough that I am not inclined to change it.

Here's an article I wrote a few years back about the basic system:
http://www.windward.org/notes/notes69/andrew6905.htm

Paul Schmidt wrote:Needs more soil. I've found that you need more soil than you took out to fill up a hugel bed properly. I dug a swale at the same time that I put in a hugel bed and used the extra topsoil from the swale to cover the hugel.


very much agreed. I also found that digging a VERY deep hole, 4-5 feet with a backhoe can yield enough dirt. But otherwise you need to bring in a lot more material.

I have taken to mixing in bunny and goat manure/straw with the logs. This adds to the bulk, and increases the fertility a little. The manure/straw tends to break down into a mild soil, since their is so much straw in it. So it is not throwing the balance of nitrogen way out of balance. I reckon it is also a very good way to store that manure in the soil so it does not loose nitrogen to the air.

 
Daniel Clifford
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Location: Eastern Massachusetts
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Hi Andrew,


I liked your post, I have thought about putting manure into the logs as well since the logs early on if they are not already rotted will absorb nitrogen so with the manure they will absorb it from there rather than the soil above I would think.

One thing about your post reminded me of something. I have heard of people trapping flies etc. for chicken feed, but that some flies can carry diseases (I don't know specifics) but if you use black soldier fly larvae apparently you are much better off.

I don't have experience with this personally but I think a forum search on black soldier fly larvae might be useful.

Thanks,

Daniel
 
Roberto pokachinni
Pie
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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I have some rodents on my land too, and it is discouraging to read of this, as I intend on doing some hugulkultur as well. In researching dealing with gophers (pretty much the same critter), recently I read about placing glass bottles-facing up with the lids off-in the holes. Apparently the whistling sounds that the wind makes drives them critters nuts and they vacate !!! I'm going to give it a try with the colony that has invaded my driveway and the lower part of my as yet undeveloped permaculture paradise.
 
Roxanne Sterling-Falkenstein
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Location: Cave Junction, Oregon
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Filling the holes up as soon as you can will help.. I would use oyster shell mixed in with the soil before you pack the holes, if that works for you... you could try digging in a deep 6inch dressing over the top before you put new soil on, it will/could help act as a permanent barrier which lasts longer than chicken wire, tho I have used them together to line the bottom of double dug beds and tree holes in gopher infested properties. I have never tried it from the top down tho. The beds we did this to are still gopher free 18 years later, we did 6-8 inches thick. Did it here for moles about 4-5 inches thick and that worked too. Often we build a box when we rented..we'd pour shells in first and fill with soil..just perfect every time. They are cheap too 50lbs for like 6 bucks a bag.
With your dry climate I can imagine it would take more like 5 years not 3.. to see the hugel really sink down and break up so as to be no fun for the squirrels any more... I wish you luck and like your observations and ideas for solutions. Another Idea.. maybe some bone sauce mixed well into the shells before you pack the holes? They really hate digging through them.
 
Jose R Baca
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Hi there;
Been watching this site for a while, and even though I don't have the same problem, I'm equally disappointed with my attempt with Huglekulture gardening. I live in what I would ignorantly describe as high desert and am very conscious of water usage (I also have roughly half of my acre sized back yard covered with woodchips for this reason.) The beds interior consists of lots of aged manure, compost and leaves, I even added a few handfuls of acidified nitrogen and covered it with soil and compost mix. Even though we have had plenty of rain, enough to wash out some of my chips, the first thing to dry is the hugle bed.
Wow! Touchy computer!
In short, I personally feel that even though they float away in a heavy downpour, woodchips are a far better, and less labor intensive alternative to burying old logs.


 
Andrew Schreiber
Posts: 208
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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Jose R Baca wrote: Hi there;
Been watching this site for a while, and even though I don't have the same problem, I'm equally disappointed with my attempt with Huglekulture gardening. I live in what I would ignorantly describe as high desert and am very conscious of water usage (I also have roughly half of my acre sized back yard covered with woodchips for this reason.) The beds interior consists of lots of aged manure, compost and leaves, I even added a few handfuls of acidified nitrogen and covered it with soil and compost mix. Even though we have had plenty of rain, enough to wash out some of my chips, the first thing to dry is the hugle bed.
Wow! Touchy computer!
In short, I personally feel that even though they float away in a heavy downpour, woodchips are a far better, and less labor intensive alternative to burying old logs.




Jose, HUgel Kultur is certainly not for everyone and everyclimate. For instance, is dry landscapes or ones which experience a lot of wind, Hugelkulture mounds can be innneffective. The greater amount of surface area increases evaporation if the soil is not completely covered and sheltered from. many people in such climates bury the biomass and leave the surface like a depression to actually catch water.

You may want to try covering your hugelkultur with wood chips and see what kind of synergy arises with the two methods.

It sounds like you did not bury any logs in your beds. Am I reading what you wrote correctly? There are many many dynamics that go into the system beyond merely the burying of biomass.

Scale is important. the bigger and the more of them, the more of a sheltered microclimate is created and the more effective they are at holding water.

placing them perpendicular to prevailing winds is important to not channel the winds between the beds, which dries them out.

I also recommend planting a lot of shelter plants for any of your growing spaces. Get protection from desicating wind and afternoon sun, and your "high desert" locale will probably respond well. Not sure where you are specifically, but I live in in a relatively arid dryland forest, and I am utilizing a lot of upland willow species (Salix scouleriana) to create temporary and permanent shelter for young fruits nuts and berries, as well as in hedgerows in a young silvo/pasture system.

The wind here is a killer. So constant and so damaging to trees. Our hugels seem to dry out for the first few inches of soil. so having those deep rooted plants in their really helps to keep it going through the long hot dry summers.

 
Jose R Baca
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Andrew Schreiber wrote:
Jose R Baca wrote: Hi there;
Been watching this site for a while, and even though I don't have the same problem, I'm equally disappointed with my attempt with Huglekulture gardening. I live in what I would ignorantly describe as high desert and am very conscious of water usage (I also have roughly half of my acre sized back yard covered with woodchips for this reason.) The beds interior consists of lots of aged manure, compost and leaves, I even added a few handfuls of acidified nitrogen and covered it with soil and compost mix. Even though we have had plenty of rain, enough to wash out some of my chips, the first thing to dry is the hugle bed.
Wow! Touchy computer!
In short, I personally feel that even though they float away in a heavy downpour, woodchips are a far better, and less labor intensive alternative to burying old logs.




Jose, HUgel Kultur is certainly not for everyone and everyclimate. For instance, is dry landscapes or ones which experience a lot of wind, Hugelkulture mounds can be innneffective. The greater amount of surface area increases evaporation if the soil is not completely covered and sheltered from. many people in such climates bury the biomass and leave the surface like a depression to actually catch water.

You may want to try covering your hugelkultur with wood chips and see what kind of synergy arises with the two methods.

It sounds like you did not bury any logs in your beds. Am I reading what you wrote correctly? There are many many dynamics that go into the system beyond merely the burying of biomass.

Scale is important. the bigger and the more of them, the more of a sheltered microclimate is created and the more effective they are at holding water.

placing them perpendicular to prevailing winds is important to not channel the winds between the beds, which dries them out.

I also recommend planting a lot of shelter plants for any of your growing spaces. Get protection from desicating wind and afternoon sun, and your "high desert" locale will probably respond well. Not sure where you are specifically, but I live in in a relatively arid dryland forest, and I am utilizing a lot of upland willow species (Salix scouleriana) to create temporary and permanent shelter for young fruits nuts and berries, as well as in hedgerows in a young silvo/pasture system.

The wind here is a killer. So constant and so damaging to trees. Our hugels seem to dry out for the first few inches of soil. so having those deep rooted plants in their really helps to keep it going through the long hot dry summers.
Sir;
Moved out here in Pueblo West Co.( zone 5)3 yrs. ago. And yes, constant wind. I love the challenge of creating a permacultured backyard and over the past years here I have slowly but surely amended the hardpan clay that serves as soil around here. So much so that my neighbor and friend seems to think I'm some kind of new age hippie because I throw very little away and even offer to take his and anyone else's yard debris for my compost pile.
Even though I'm a certified Master Gardener, I've been looking to new (or old) techniques at sustainable gardening methods that are not well known around here, from Bokashi composting to the Back to Eden gardening method. Each section of my yard is or will be a test area of these methods. The huglebed area is closest to the fence we had put up to help cut back the wind ( it's a 6' Symtek ) and yes, the willow, cottonwood and some elm logs are buried in a trench I dug that was 3+ ft. deep and 12+ft. long. I will cover with woodchips and plant it next spring ( I guess I should mention that this bed is only 1 year old). I can say with surety that unless or until I can get shade from the trees I have planted mycorhy-?? stuff won't work.
I most certainly would welcome any suggestions you may offer and thank you for your recommendations . By the way only my mother calls me Jose, and only when she's pissed!, my friends call me Chuck ( don't ask , its a long story.)
 
Mark Chadwick
Posts: 81
Location: Cranbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
chicken forest garden urban
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Ground squirrels could be a good supply of free protein for your chickens. Just chop them up a bit and see how fast the chickens make a meal of them.
 
Peter Ellis
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Jose R Baca wrote: Hi there;
Been watching this site for a while, and even though I don't have the same problem, I'm equally disappointed with my attempt with Huglekulture gardening. I live in what I would ignorantly describe as high desert and am very conscious of water usage (I also have roughly half of my acre sized back yard covered with woodchips for this reason.) The beds interior consists of lots of aged manure, compost and leaves, I even added a few handfuls of acidified nitrogen and covered it with soil and compost mix. Even though we have had plenty of rain, enough to wash out some of my chips, the first thing to dry is the hugle bed.
Wow! Touchy computer!
In short, I personally feel that even though they float away in a heavy downpour, woodchips are a far better, and less labor intensive alternative to burying old logs.




I think if you looked around on Permies a bit, you would find that others living in arid regions agree with you that for their area, hugelkultur is not appropriate, certainly not in the form of raised beds. I have yet to be introduced to a technique that works universally, everything is dependent upon the specific conditions of a specif location.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Matt Powers
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I HAVE HAD THE SAME EXACT EXPERIENCE WITH ALL MY HUGULKULTURS!! I live in a brittle soil, and very arid, zone. We're where all those fires are near Yosemite

Our soils too poor to hold together long enough. Maybe if we had rain things would be different, but we don't.
 
alex Keenan
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I would take a wait and see approach with the hugelkultur.

In theory the hugelkultur should store water as the wood decays and becomes spongy.
It seems that if you put a one inch PVC pipe with some holes in it wrapped in ground fabric at the low point of your hugelkultur, you can check the hugelkultur after rain to see if it is storing water.
If it is storing water you can then monitor just how long the water lasts as free water. Again in theory the trapped water in the spongy logs should last long after the free water is gone.
Since your hugelkultur is new there is likely little decay. So go with the Skwirrelkultur and let the rodents do their stuff.
I have stumps I plant in with chipmunk issues. If the rodents are living in the stumps they are warm and dry. So I tend to put a soil mixture that holds water into any holes I find.
In time when things become moist and damp the chipmunks move out.

So give it some time to decay and lookup one of the many BBQ sauce recipes for Squirrel in a slow cooker
 
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