I have been living in Italy for the last six months where everybody burns their Olive Tree prunings with Gasoline. I've been collecting ours and would like to build some Hugelkulture beds but my only available inputs are the Olive tree branches and leaves, straw, horse, goat, and chicken manure, compost, and grass cuttings. Any logs I would have to source from off of property and I can't get heavy machinery on the property. If I could do do something cool here I could use it as a model to influence folks here not to use gasoline to burn all this biomass. Thanks much for your help.
in cases like this, it's often due to concern that the prunings could transmit diseases that they are burned instead of being used more productively, so you may want to ensure that any prunings do get moved away from the olive groves.
You could make swales/terraces/infiltration structures by driving stakes into the ground on contour, then placing bundles of your prunings upslope from the stakes. You could turn this into a hugel by scooping soil from upslope and depositing the soild on top of the sticks- you dont necessarily need logs for a hugel.
If I were in your situation, I would reserve the nicer, larger prunings and grade them for size, so that I built up a nice stock of sticks (maybe stored in a rack under cover) that I could then rely on for projects (handcrafts, garden stakes, utensils, etc etc)
Thanks Nathan, I appreciate your response as it's more along the lines of my question and are of interest. We have 36 trees here and the amount of biomass is substantial. I'd like to do Hugelbeets and was thinking of piling branches 1 meter wide and 1.5 high about 4 meters long and then covering with compost and manure. I wasn't sure if the prunings would be spongy enough with regard to holding water and if beds would sink too much.
Nathan, can you tell me more about these diseases you mentioned?
I will be building a RMH this Spring and definitely will be using that stickwood. This burning of Biomass is done in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, a new model is definitely called for.
Morgan,I don't know of specific diseases that infect Olives. I was speaking from experience as a Californian, seeing the orange groves every year getting pruned and the pruning piled and burned. I expect that is part of the rationale behind your areas approach to burning.
Of course, some men just want to see the world burn
I would also recommend processing the prunings through goats, as demonstrated in a recent Geoff Lawton video- they will eat the leaves and ramial (immature) wood, leaving clean sticks that will be ready for drying.
So did you use olive prunings for Hugel beds?
I'd like to use so here (In Cilento, South of Italy), but I was unsure because I know they take forever to rot and because leaves contain lot of oil.
What are your results?
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