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How does Sepp deal with weed seeds in new large hugelbeds?

 
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Southern Finland zone 5
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I've been wondering how Sepp manages to get the newly established large hugelbeds to grow what he wants and not become a tremendous weeding job. In his book he describes how when building hugelbeds he carefully separates the humus layer when digging with the excavator and then places the humus layer on top of the bed. Beds are sown with seeds and germination is good because of ideal conditions. But the humus layer is normally full of weed seeds and if he doesn't use any sterilised compost (and that would be impossible on a large scale) then how does he stop the weeds from germinating and quickly overtaking the whole bed?

Weeds have happily germinated and grown on my hugelbeds but it's not a problem as the beds are quite small, I can just remove most of them and leave some. But on large areas I don't see how it could be done. The only solution I've come up with is the one I've used in my garden when making new beds: always potatoes the first year as potatoes can grow as fast or faster than the weeds - the only crop I know of that can actually do that in our climate. Still, even the potatoes won't stop the weeds and there is always massive weeding to be done in new beds. But as potatoes get along okay I can postpone the weeding of the new beds and not have to do it in early spring when there is so much other stuff to do. But perhaps Sepp has come up with something else? As I see it the weed problem is biggest in newly established beds and the first 1-2 years after that. Later on, if one doesn't do much digging, keeps adding organic material and leaving certain more desirable (annual, low growing) weeds and removing the more problematic perennial weeds then there is really not that much weeding to be done after a few years. The ground is then covered by useful and not overly invasive weeds.
 
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Been wondering the same exact thing as Ive been reading his book.
 
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Me too. My hugelbeets seem to be exercises in weed management, especially the dreaded bindweed. The desirable plants do really well but if I didn't weed extensively they would get choked out quickly. It's a lot of work. What am I doing wrong?
 
Jose Reymondez
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Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
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I just remembered that in the book he says that chickens can be let on it and that pigs can also get on them in their second year. Perhaps that´s an option for clearing the bed.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
78
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Unfortunately the chickens ignore bindweed. It's not good for people either. And the chickens will destroy crops along with weeds, what does he do about the weeds in the growing season?

I've heard pigs will eat bindweed (and its roots!)but I don't have pigs, nor is it practical for me to get them. I wonder how he lets the pigs on the beets without the pigs rooting them to smithereens?
 
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I would simply plant lots of radishes lettuce and clovers to out compete weeds and encourage me to visit the bed often to harvest and pull out weeds by hand.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
78
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I heavily planted clovers and other crops, both yummy and cover but the weeds are so competitive. The bindweed grows so fast and over the other plants. Also, when you break the bindweed stem or root it secretes a hormone that makes it grow more shoots and faster. Any bit of root left in the ground grows a new plant and the roots are brittle.

I am trying a new bindweed control method, where I twirl the vines together tightly without breaking and tuck them under mulch or a rock. It seems to weaken the plant's vigor (pulling only seems to increase it) but it takes a lot of work. I wonder if there is bindweed on the Krameterhof.
 
James Colbert
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Have you tried a heavy sheet mulch?If not try not pulling it out but letting it grow a bit then covering with small weave burlap then top with clean soil or compost and a loose mulch. I know bindweed is hell but maybe this will help. This is Sepp's method for dealing with problem plants.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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My whole farm is covered with bindweed abatement experiments. I'll be able to write the book in a few years. In heavy sheet mulches bindweed is the only thing to make it through but it does slow it down.

This thread was supposed to be about seeds though, and I notice more bindweed from rhizomes than from seeds, I think.

I do find that the weeds are hearty on my hugels. There is a grass that does a great job holding soil with its roots. I cut the tops off before it seeds and lay them down over the stubble. It works but is waaaaaaaaay too labor intensive for any large size to be practical.

Many weeds are welcome for eating. I am particularly happy to see dandelion, purslane and chickweed
 
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