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Sun scoop hugel bed?

 
M Johnson
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I am doing my first hugel bed and am considering a sun scoop version because it sounds cool, but what exactly us it? How do you orient it? Is it like a big c with the opening of the c facing east? Anyone have pictures?
 
                  
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That same idea had crossed my mind as well.
I just built my first couple hugelbeds and my largest bed (about 2 cords of wood buried) I made in a "sun scoop shape", with the opening facing East.

I would think that the only circumstances where having a sun scoop would be a BAD idea is if the scoop opened upward on a hill, thus creating a frost pocket.

Since I am new to hugelkultur, I am still a bit skeptical on the explained benefits (I hope they are all true, but will need to observe the benefits first hand).
We had a good step in the right direction today.

It was raining outside and about 55 degrees, so felt colder.
Three of us all agreed that the air around the bed (Within a couple inches) felt significantly warmer than the ambient air temp.

Assuming that this is indeed true, then I am stoked.
 
paul wheaton
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This is a sunscoop project:



The opening is facing south.



And in this video, go to 5:15 or so and you see a cob wall in a sun scoop shape and Ianto talks about how much warmer it is:




 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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I was definitely thinking that this (sun scoop) will be the way to go with my huguls/earthworks/buildings, but NOT East.

M Johnson wrote:I am doing my first hugel bed and am considering a sun scoop version because it sounds cool, but what exactly us it? How do you orient it? Is it like a big c with the opening of the c facing east? Anyone have pictures?


Not having made a hugul bed yet, but being a guy with a ton of research into it and into solar buildings, I would say that if you want to scoop the sun, then going more Southerly is a better orientation, as Paul indicated in his typing below his first video post above.

I'm actually planning on building my hugul beds and home with a South exposure, but with a slight tilt to the east to gain that critical morning heat/light exposure. In further contemplation, gentle arched shaped hugul beds with the bent beds oriented South Southeast is more in the dream plan. These would clearly not on contour but draining frost and excess water off the ends of the arch, though enough water penetrating to keep the beds moist. Having these beds maybe twenty feet long, with a gap of about ten feet, and then another row of the beds down-slope catching the excess water on the center top of each below. This I believe will drain the most frost/cool air/excess water while gaining the most sun exposure, and water exposure.

What do you think Paul? Would I be better off draining the frost in long beds slightly off contour, or does this pouring it off in small doses cool my whole project?

I may also do some small/short/shallow keyhole type sun catches on the south/southeast side of the beds to catch even more sun, and add more edge effect.

I am fortunate that my meadow slopes South/Southeast, so I can do this, being slightly off contour without much problem.

The slightly Eastern orientation will also be helpful in my situation as my valley (The Rocky Mountain Trench) opens up in that direction, and there are mountains (The Caribou Range) to the South, across the river valley. The Caribou Mountains unfortunately block a lot of the extreme Solstice Winter light, but I am fortunate to be as far North in the valley as I am to gain as much light as possible.

Being at relatively high elevation with a large mountain in the back yard, and being Zone 3, at 54 degrees north, I can use all the frost drainage, and sun exposure that I can get.
 
Kate Day
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Location: Maine
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Digging in my first hugel beds as soon as I can get the ground worked (snow is finally gone!) they will be on a southerly facing slope....I am assuming I orient them east/west to capture as much sunlight as possible? I have done a ton of research this winter, but haven't found a lot of info on orientation of beds! Thanks for your advice! Oh, I'm in zone 5b in Maine .....growing season is roughly Memorial Day to September.....
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Kate Day wrote: they will be on a southerly facing slope....I am assuming I orient them east/west to capture as much sunlight as possible? ..


Hi Kate, Running your beds east west would be logical from what i understand, considering solar exposure and capturing the up-slope rain/snow. The only issue I've read about is in possibly capturing frost, cool air, too much water in such a situation. The idea then is to orient the bed off contour enough (and this might only be slight) to drain the frost, and excess moisture/cold air. This is not an exact science because the cold air drainage and frost pockets are an integrated part of the individual setting of your landscape.

I hope that that is helpful.

My land still has a foot of snow but it's melting fast with rain the last few days.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Paul is building one in Montana. A picture can be seen in this thread.

http://www.permies.com/t/31828/labs/Sams-Photos-Base-Camp
 
Kate Day
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Location: Maine
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Thanks, Roberto!
I can pretty much guarantee that I'll be slightly off contour simply because I can't seem to draw a straight line with my backhoe! I read an article @ permaculture news.org regarding hillsides, Swales, etc. and have (I think) come up with a pretty good plan. 2-3 beds, depending on width, a swale, 2-3 more beds, a second swale, on up to the top. I seem to have a couple natural Swales that I will be enlarging a little to maximize catch potential of rainfall. Now if I could just get the ground to thaw....
 
Kate Day
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Location: Maine
 
M Johnson
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Made progress on the bed. Stacked slot of branches and twigs and started piling on dirt/manure. Here are some pics
Btw, this is taking ALOT of dirt to cover.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
image.jpg
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M Johnson
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Finally got it covered. Need to add dirt on too to get the soil layer deeper in some areas and to cover mulch in others.

I couldn't get a picture with it totally covered due to darkness.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
Almost covered
 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I did some research on this a while back and came to the conclusion that South West was the best orientation (in the NH). The reason is that you are usually trying to extend the growing season, not increase the daytime temperature.

Sepp says the you do not want to introduce heat to plants quickly when there has been a frost because the stress will kill them or something. He advocates slowly warming the plants (away from direct light and use ambient heat) and then building the heat throughout the day.

With the opening in the SouthWest, the internal wall of the hugel bed will be in shade in the morning, and get the last rays of the evening sun directly.

This means that the soil is close to its maximum heat at dusk, and will release this to the plants through the night.

Where I live, cold air comes from the North, and so the bed in this orientation won't form a cold pocket. That said, cold pockets are sometimes desirable. Extending the winter a little helps delay fruit tree blossoming until the last frost has passed.

 
Kate Day
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Location: Maine
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Wow! That looks really great....I can't wait to see it planted!!
 
M Johnson
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Thanks. It's been all manual work, so it's satisfying but longer than with machines

I am looking forward to planting a bunch of starts an seeds. I am goin for a bunch of diversity and also some fruit trees and bushes.

I have bag of wild flower seeds that I am going to cover it with to bring in the insects
 
Roses are red. Violets are blue. Some poems rhyme. But this is a tiny ad:

The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers:
http://richsoil.com/cards


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