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Hoserkultur

 
John Elliott
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I've mentioned this technique in a few other threads, but now it's time for it to give it its own name and its own thread. What is hoserkultur? It has nothing to do with those two hosers Bob and Doug McKenzie, it's using your garden hose to create a hugelkultur environment for plants that are too big to uproot and move to a hugelkultur bed.

The two necessary pieces of equipment for hoserkultur are a sturdy garden hose and an adjustable hose nozzle. The nozzle turns the hose into a soil drill, and it is possible to push this down into the root zone of a tree two or even three feet. Any more than three feet and the flexibility of the hose will take over and it will start to take off in a direction of its own choosing. If you want to drill down more than three feet, it is advisable to use a piece of galvanized pipe between the hose and the nozzle as part of your makeshift drilling rig.

Once you get the hang of letting the pressure of the water dig the hole for you, the process can go quite fast, and in a half hour or so, you can have multiple holes drilled along the dripline of a tree. After letting the water percolate out of the new hole, you can treat the hole like any new hugelkultur or lasagna bed and pack it with life giving nutrients for the tree. I like to use a well decayed piece of oak branch (I'm fortunate that there are plenty of oaks in the neighborhood dropping good sized branches) and once it is tamped into the hole as far as it will go, I top the hole off with a mix of biochar and wood chips.

Hoserkultur can really give a boost to a tree or a shrub that has been not thriving but just surviving. I drilled and filled 4 holes around each of my kiwi vines last January and they put on 3 times the growth that they had the previous year. Although you can do this any time of the year, it is not a great disturbance to the roots, it seems to me best to do it in the late winter, while plants are still dormant. That way the newly introduced soil fungi can get acclimated and be waiting for when the plant resumes its growth in the spring.

If you are dealing with issues of soil compaction, this is a cheap way to make a dent in the problem. While I was drilling, I noticed that the drill mud was as white as milk, which is not surprising as there is a commercial kaolin mine 2 miles down the road from me. That clay has been compacting for millions of years, and when it gets to a certain point, plant roots can't penetrate it and they just give up. If I want my trees to be drought resistant and able to access the water and minerals in the clay down there, I'm going to have to give them some help.

If you have any questions about this new technique, let's hear them. I don't think it is ever going to become a standard practice of industrial agriculture, but then again, who cares what those hosers do?
 
Johnny Niamert
Posts: 268
Location: Colo
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I used to bore holes in the side yard all the time with the hose and a brass nozzle growing up.

Ah, memories.

Good idea, besides childhood boredom.
 
Dale Hodgins
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A power washer will drill faster, without using so much water that everything gets muddy. Curving isn't an issue. It will tear through clay and hardpan. Wear goggles for splash back. I've used a power washer to help in stump pulling.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Food for thought:





 
John Elliott
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Dale Hodgins wrote: without using so much water that everything gets muddy.


Dale, where's the kid in you?
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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@Dale...

Well that settles it. I just knew I was going to have to get a power washer for something! Now I can move it from the 1000th item on my need to purchase list up to 995th, lol
 
Dale Hodgins
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My power washer that I got for free, has come in handy on several occasions. When I pour concrete on bedrock, I want it to stick. Some chimneys need only the loose mortar removed. Old foundations need to be really clean before water sealants are applied. Big roots get cleaned before the chainsaw is used. Earthen plaster can be made very smooth if all lumps are screened out and placed in a net screen that is then sprayed.

Probably the most unusual thing I use it for is mixing concrete. Once dry materials are mixed in the wheelbarrow, I use it to inject water throughout the mix. This seriously cuts down on the labor of hand mixing.

Some people power wash roofing, wooden decks and siding. This can cause huge damage.
 
John Elliott
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Did I mention that this is a good way to get inoculated biochar into the soil? I've seen lots of videos of people sprinkling biochar over their gardens like pixie dust, but you have to remember that in terra preta, the fertile soils that we are trying to emulate, the biochar soil horizon goes down several feet. Chips of biochar on the surface dry out in the sun just like everything else. They need to be incorporated into the soil for them to act as banks storing up water and nutrients and providing pore space for bacteria and fungi to inhabit.

I've gotten the apples and the pears trees treated for this year, one trowelful of biochar down the hole and then fill it with well rotted oak branches. That just leaves the plum trees and the citrus left to do. I realize that winter is still in force up to the north, but that won't be for long, and you should be thinking about some hoserkultur so that your trees will be ready when spring arrives.
 
Charles Tarnard
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Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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I did this a little last spring, and I think the bane of hoserculture is rocky soil. Some spots I was able to push and push and push, but others I couldn't get much farther than 5 inches. Still an excellent method, but not foolproof (dammit).
 
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