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Hot compost within hugelkultur crater, causes early heating of mounds in spring.

 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Hot compost within hugelkultur crater, causes early heating of mounds in spring.

Picture a hugelkultur mound that resembles a volcanic crater in form. It’s a giant circular mound with a hollowed out center. I was contemplating the idea of managing hugel nutrient additions in the same way that is done with a key hole garden, when it occurred to me that a properly timed hot compost, could heat the beds in early spring.

A circular mound with fairly steep inner walls, would provide a good enclosure where manure, straw and leaves could be composted. Spring is a time of manure abundance, since penned up stock concentrate the stuff in winter. A pit on top of a hugel mound, is a perfect spot for composting rich materials, since any leachate will be absorbed by the carbon rich mound. The heat produced will make the bed ready for planting earlier in the season.

I don’t care that the lower wood may not last as long when used as a platform for composting and I’m equally unconcerned about mixing bacterial and fungal decomposition. Once the compost finishes, fungi will recolonize areas where they are killed off. Finished material could be shoveled over the lip, to the outer slopes of the bed and used right where it is composted. The lower crater seems a perfect spot for lettuce and other moisture loving crops that benefit from less sun during hot summers.

I could see piling the stuff into a tall cone and tarping the top if spring rains are excessive. With no covering, the mounds would resemble smouldering, mini volcanoes as they steam away. Rather than spewing lava and phyroclastic flows, these volcanoes will produce an explosion of food that flows a little earlier than before.
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