John Elliot wrote:
The height of the wood, and from there the height of the whole assembly, is really dictated by how much water you need to store. In your soggy climate, water is not really a problem. When 20% of the country is bogs, you know that the water table is not far below your feet. For you, the main benefit of the hugelkultur is not the water storage aspect, but the nutrients from the rotting vegetation. The more wood you have buried, the longer that mound will remain fertile.
How much soil to top it off with depends on what you intend to grow. To get nice root vegetables, you want a light soil tilth, and you don't want to have them bumping into a spruce log that hasn't decomposed yet or trying to push into clay strata. With a foot of soil, you should be able to grow nice carrots, beets and turnips. With leafy green vegetables, they can make do with less soil and their roots can find the crevices in the wood, so you can probably get away with 4" of soil.
Dale Hodgins wrote:
You'll probably find that many warm weather plants will do well in the hotter and drier soil of the mounds. The wet clay beneath will be too cold at a point in spring when the upper mound is sufficiently warm. Hugelkultur can offer protection from both soggy cold and hot dry. We don't usually think of it keeping roots adequately dry, since for many, water shortage is the problem. In your case, I'll bet that the ability to get early starts off the cold wet clay will be the single greatest benefit in using this technique.
A.J. Gentry wrote:
Hello from the state of Ohio. I have been gathering info on hugels too, for a zone 5/6. The article is extremely helpful showcasing the various types. But I still struggle with getting the sides as steep as Sepp recommends. It is most certainly a workout. I am particularly interested in the hugel bed's ability to hold water and the low maintenance that goes with them.
I've been making my way through Paul's podcasts and I took a lot of great notes from podcasts #172 Hugelkultur and Reading the Land. If you get a chance check it out and let me know if it helps at all.
James Colbert wrote:In Sepps book he describes a typical hugelkulture as being build by first digging a trench about 1m wide and 30cm deep, then back fill with wood until 1m high and then add the soil back on top until you reach a height of about 1.5m or 4 1/2 feet . If you do not have enough soil to cover the bed he recommends digging trenches on either side of the bed to acquire more soil and to retain additional moisture. Of course there are variations on these rules but that is the basic way he recommends creating a hugelkulture. Also any hugelkulture of significant height should probably be built with machinery otherwise I keep hand built beds to 1 m and under. I have built my fair share of 5+ foot beds by hand and I don't think it is worth the effort. With machines that is another story.
Jen Shrock wrote:When I attended a Sepp Holzer seminar in the spring of last year, Zach, from the HolzerAgroecology group told me that one way of determining the dimensions of a hugel bed that will work for you is determined by standing straight up, put your arm out to the side and connect the tip of your fingers to your foot. That will give you a basic height and angle that will make it comfortable for you to work/harvest on the hugel bed.