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Siberian Elm in Hugelkulture?

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Location: Denver, CO
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I am removing some really ugly, half dead siberian elms. I would like to use them in my hugelkultures.

On the Permaculture Wiki it said Siberian Elm was allelopathic. But when I did an internet search, I could not find any references.

How allelopathic is it?

How long would it take for the toxin to to break down?

Which plants in particular does it affect? I know some plants can even grow with black walnuts.

Has anyone used it successfully or unsuccessfully?

Thanks for the help.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Howdy Gilbert. Here is a link to one study of the leaf litter.

http://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/80528/1/Allelopathy%20J%202013_digital%20csic.pdf

I am not sure about the wood. Can you try a small area and see what happens?
Maybe grind up some wood, put it in a pot, plant a few garden seeds and see if they germinate and grow?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Location: Denver, CO
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Thanks for the link.

It didn't answer all my questions, but it is a start.

Your test idea is a good one, and I may do it. However, I am not sure how easy it would be to accurately replicate conditions in my hugelkultures in a pot. So the test might give me one result and the actual thing another.

I will have to use lots of light, twiggy material, because that makes up the bulk of the tree, and because we will be using the trunks as firewood.

Here is a few more questions. If I left the wood lying over the winter, thus losing the leaves and perhaps leaching out the wood a bit, and then inoculated my mound with mushrooms, would I have any problems? In theory, I know this should work, but it is a lot of work building the mounds, and I don't want to take a risk of ruining all that space.

I will also ask this question on the Fungi forum.
 
Weston Ginther
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Location: NW South Dakota - Zone 4b
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I would also love to know people's thoughts on using Siberian Elm in a hugelkulture bed. This past weekend we got a foot of the wettest snow anybody around here has ever seen. It came in less than 24 hours, which resulted in thousands of down power poles and broken tree limbs. I plan on scavenging as many tree branches as I can in the next few days to use for future hugelkulture beds. By far the dominate tree around here is Siberian Elm (very few species can tolerate this harsh climate).

I was hoping to use the leaves from these branches for compost, mulching and worm bedding, too. After reading through the study posted above, I'm not sure that's a good idea. Does anybody have any ideas or thoughts on allelopathic nature of Siberian Elms?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Location: Denver, CO
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Hello Weston,

Here is a link to the thread I started asking this same question on the Fungi forum. There is some more information there. (Though if anyone else has any opinions, I would be glad to hear them.)

http://www.permies.com/t/28581/fungi/Fungi-breaking-allelopathic-substances-Siberian
 
mike mclellan
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Location: Helena, MT zone 4
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Gilbert,
When I constructed my hugelbeets two years ago, I used some freshly cut Siberian (aka Chinese) elm in the beds. I didn't see any overt evidence that the wood ( large rounds logs, branches with dried leaves and twigs, or few leaves) involved were alleopathic at all. The beds produced well this year and would've done better in year one with heavier seeding and more water in the initial season.

Weston,
When I lived in Wyoming, I had only Siberian elm on my property and chipped all the branches from various trimmings and windthrown twigs to use as mulch. Sometimes I composted it (hot) and sometimes the chips went on virtually straight fromt the shredder. I just had to wait for the leaves to dry a bit so they would clog up my chipper/shredder. Never observed any perennial plants or garden plants suffer any negative effects. My only real observation about freshly cut wood is the stench! Not pleasant, at least IMO. Sorry to hear about all the damage in SD. Isn't living in the West fun? Hope the recovery process is going well. Happy mound building.
 
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