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Hugelkultur growing beds by hand

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Hello Sepp,

The property in question, has an approximate 5 to 10% grade with 1/4 of the top grade is at the end of a 100' septic drain line. My desire is to control the water flow to hand dug and built Hugelkultur grow beds. This part of the property in question is about 1/3 acre with 8 scrub oaks on it

Not only do I plan to manage the water, this plan is to create a growing forest out of the hand built beds. Currently, CA is in a drought and when it does rain it is all at one time or a few times, flooding the top soil to the bottom of the property and into the neighbors parcel.

My question is, how deep do the swales on the uphill side of the Hugelkultur grow beds, need to be. In addition, should I fill them with drain rock or 1 1/2" rock to keep out the leaves, dirt etc. out of them.

Please understand that I am unable to afford a machine to perform these activities and would like to perfect this Hugelkultur growing bed/swale concept by hand in CA so that I may teach others who have more time than money!! We need to enrich CA with self sufficient growing lands, rather than flattened out wind ripped growing areas.

Thank you

[Thumbnail for IMG_4531.JPG]
Top grow bed
Posts: 304
Location: Montana
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Hello Mary,

Sepp never uses swales, he prefers water retention landscapes (ponds and krater gardens) and terraces to store the rainfall. This is what he has found to be the most stable and successful in his 50 years of experience.

As for rock in the swales, wouldn't you want leaves and humus to accumulate? This is valuable nutrient. There is still plenty that can be done by hand, it is all about using the resources that are available to you.
Posts: 1981
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Mary, what I see on your photo looks much too near the trunk of the trees for me!
Big roots can rot.
Small roots away from the trunk are the ones that the tree uses for drinking, that is why trees extend little by little, they go on drinking and eating further and further.

I will look what is a krater garden...

I use vetiver borders in my terraces, well reproducing it as I still do not have anough tillers, and checking out the drough resistance...
And I want to grow roots to increase carbon and thus water retention.
My terraces have only stones after the first 50cms...
Earth was scarce in the places where terraces were built, so that's what I have, plus a totally rainless summer...
water retention seems so fundamental!
It's a tiny ad only because the water is so cold.
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