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Hugel update

 
Victor Johanson
Posts: 363
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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The hugelbed did great in Fairbanks again this year. We had a weird season, with deep snow still in late May. I thought we'd have a sorry crop, but it got up over 80 degrees 35 days this summer. Very little rain. Even so, we only had to do a little bit of watering late in the season because things were starting to wither some. It was amazing how well everything did. The first frost didn't hit until the second half of September. We then had extended mild weather for most of October; the first snow that stuck hit yesterday, and we haven't had a bare ground on Halloween since 1938 (and that was the only time). So despite the late start, it was an awesome year for the plants. This year I put a trellis up along the ridgetop and grew pole beans and cukes on it. Spuds weren't 2.5# again this year, but they were pretty nice. I planted a bunch of sunchokes that got up around 8 feet tall. The voles have moved in, though; there are burrows all around the plants and it looks like they've pretty much devoured all the tubers. They didn't bother anything much during the growing season, though. Beans did as well as they do in containers here (they don't do well at all in the cold ground), and even pole beans had no trouble maturing a good crop, and I'd sort of given up on them up here. Various brassicas and some squash and tomatoes also did well. Lettuce mostly got choked out this time; didn't get it sown quickly or thickly enough. I had planned to do some sowing this fall for early emergence next spring, but got busy and didn't. But I did build another bed for next year, so I'll be doubling my pleasure.

Previous photos are here:

http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/800/17#147666
http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/800/17#150662
http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/800/17#150712

And this year:


2013oldhugel1.jpg
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2013oldhugel2.jpg
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2013oldhugel5.jpg
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Victor Johanson
Posts: 363
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Here's the new bed. The old one's visible in the background.

2013newhugel1.jpg
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2013newhugel2.jpg
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2013newhugel3.jpg
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Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3658
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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Good stuff Victor, thanks for sharing!
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I just checked out summer day length in your area. Twenty two hours of daylight on the solstice. I guess you make hay while the sun shines. The best brassica garden I've ever seen was in Dawson in Canada's Yukon Territory. Long days of bright sun and moderate temperatures produce amazingly quick growth.

Do you do anything special to preheat the beds in spring ?

Do you have a predator that could safely clean up the voles ? I have created some nice snake habitat at my place but I don't think that's an option where you are. Weasels might work, although they will kill chickens as well.
 
Victor Johanson
Posts: 363
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Yeah, the summers up here do rock. Some day length sensitive things are problematic, but most plants thrive in the the constant photosynthesis. There's a longstanding giant cabbage contest at the fair with entries sometimes topping 70#.

I didn't do anything to the hugelbed and it thawed way ahead of the ground. Our biggest problems here are cold soils and a short season, and hugelkultur helps with both.

We have one cat left that does hunt voles, but she's old and not as voracious as she used to be. We do have poultry, so the predator thing is dicey. I'm just going to monitor it for now and see what happens. They're very cyclical up here too. I know there's lots around right now.
 
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