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Large logs that need to go away... why not some hugelkultur?

 
M Foti
Posts: 170
Location: western n.c.
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I have about two dozen large white pine logs that need to go away as well as a fairly large pile of topsoil that needs to go away. We are making a new farm road going to the back field and I figured while I had the equipment here and need to do something with this dirt and logs anyhow, why not make something that will serve a purpose? We already do quite a bit of stuff here, but haven't ever taken the time to do a hugelkultur setup before. Since we are on our way to becoming a teaching farm, might be neat to have one operational to show folks...

Any perils and pitfalls I should think about while doing this? I know when we put in our commercial blueberry operation there are a TON of things I would have done differently in hindsight, so I thought I'd pop on over and ask the experts... These are white pine logs, roughly 12-13 feet long and anywhere from 4 inch diameter to 12 inch diameter. I'd rather use them full length and make maybe 2 large piles if possible since this will just be something I'll be having the equipment guy do while he's here and I don't want to put a bunch of his time into doing it...

so, my thinking on this is to make a pyramid of logs with the larger ones on the bottom and layer dirt in between them, finally burying the entire thing in dirt... I have a bunch of nearly composted sawdust here and if you think it would be prudent I can mix in a bobcat bucket or two of that in the final layers of dirt... Am I on the right track? Anything I need to do while I'm at it? These logs have been laying on the ground for a few years now, so they've already started initial decomposition but when I saw into them, the wood is still "good" inside. Also we will be taking out a few scraggly little yellow pines in making the road as well as some saplings and underbrush (mostly holly trees and briars), should I be burning this stuff or try to incorporate it as well?
 
M Foti
Posts: 170
Location: western n.c.
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my condensed question is... if YOU had a big pile of logs, a big pile of dirt and access to a bobcat, what would you do with it?
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Sounds like you've got the idea! In my area that's what I'd do. We are a relatively moist climate.

How much rainfall do you get? What is your climate like? If it is hot and dry I would dig down and make a buried or partially buried hugel. Is it near a water source? I like the idea of soaking the thing during construction. Not necessary, but nice.

I would gather seeds and plants for planting on top right away. Our local seed and feed sells red and white clover seed and buckwheat by the scoop. Either that or a good thick layer of mulch, for me I like straw or spoiled hay.

Biochar, compost, seaweed, animal manure, human urine, old love letters, other random biodegradable stuff, I'd put in whatever I had.
 
M Foti
Posts: 170
Location: western n.c.
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we are on the outskirts of a temperate rain forest, so we usually get plenty of rain. This will be on our farm, so even with no rain we have ways to get water to the areas that need it via the tractors hauling tanks or just a good ol garden hose if it's close enough to the house.

Probably go on and sow it with a clover mix to keep the other weeds down until we can do something with it. We have so much going on here that I doubt we'll really be able to do much with it right away but figure since I've got all the fixins and a machine to do the heavy lifting, might as well give it a try.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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They say the beds are more productive after the first year anyway, so it sounds perfect. Keep us posted!
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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DO IT!!

Just make sure you have the location and sun exposure the way you want.
 
mike mclellan
Posts: 93
Location: Helena, MT zone 4
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M,

Agree with you that you should plant it as soon as you're done. I didn't and am still paying for that, weedwise. The clovers would help to to get the whole system jumpstarted and if you don't get to it this coming growing season, so what? Just keep your soil covered in desirable (to you and your soil food web) species. Even if you do get to planting more desired species on the new pile next spring, you'll have biological activity already started. With your rainfall and overall humid climate ( compared to mine!) those big logs will break down even faster.

Do you have any kind of decomposer mushrooms still visible in nearby forested land? If so, grind some of them up and sprinkle them on the logs just before covering them with soil. You'll likely see a huge bloom of shrooms next spring. Good luck.
 
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