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UK: first steps to a new forest garden in Hampshire

 
Paul Ryan
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It's my first go at Forest Garden in Hampshire, southern England. When I started, the bed was bare soil (a failed annual vegetable patch).

Here is what I did ...

0. read Patrick Whitefield's book How to Make a Forest Garden, plus a bunch of stuff on the internet (incl. stuff on hugelkultur)

1. measured the soil pH - it's neutral. It is neither sandy nor heavy clay but a mix of those. So I think it's an OK soil. But it has a lot of flint stones mixed through it. We live near a river - maybe it's the old river bed? Anyway - lots of stones in the soil.

2. dug out the soil from the bed to a depth of about 40cm below ground level and piled the soil on a tarp next to the bed.

3. lined the bottom of the hole with fresh-cut oak and hawthorn (up to 15cm diameter) for bulk. Basically I swapped wood below for soil above in this step.

4. added another layer of wood - this time rotten ash and rotten hazel

[photo taken at this point]

5. put the soil back on top, giving me a slightly raised bed

6. lightly dug some well-rotted horse manure onto the top of the soil, mixing it as best I could without disturbing the wood

7. put some cardboard on the new raised bed to stop unwanted weeds growing on it

8. I am now waiting for my crop plants to be ready to plant out (Fat Hen, Good King Henry, Lamb's Lettuce, Winter Purslane, Salad Burnet, etc. for eating; Comfrey and Red Clover for soil care. There will also be a jostaberry and a blackcurrant shrub. I will be inoculating the shrub roots with a mycorrhizal fungi product called Root Grow.)


I'd be interested in any comments or feedback ...

Cheers,
Paul
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constructing the hugelish raised bed
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Looks good Paul.

I did the same thing at my place in South Carolina. Rolled up all of my water hoses and did not water again. Hope you will have the same good results.

Your soil looks much better to start with than mine ever did.
 
Ben Perryman
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How did your bed get on this summer Paul?
I'm going to be started my first hugel bed this weekend so I would also be very interested in what your planning on growing over winter/what is a good way of starting a bed. I understand getting ground cover early on is important.

I actually live in ringwood & couldn't believe when I stumbled a post about a Hampshire garden.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Welcome to permies Ben ! You will have to post some pictures of your bed as you get it going. We are just crazy about that sort of thing around here!
 
Tim Wells
Posts: 119
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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Nice! in essex here I did almost exactly the same. Just finished season 2. Soil developing nicely. Slug explosion in season 1 Ate a lot of plug plants, poor soil and weak plants also a factor. I mulched with seaweed this Sept and direct sowed broad Fava beans. Better performance. Strawberries have been the best plant to establish running over the entire hugel in the 2 seasons. Just need to keep slugs down to improve crop. I am beer trapping. (cant have ducks on this site as its an allotment )
 
Paul Ryan
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progress (June 2014)

I had trouble growing plants from seed, so I made a cold frame to encourage them with a bit of heat and to protect them from slugs (that's the big white thing in the picture)
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Paul Ryan
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here it is in July with a few things labelled



most useful plants so far have been the alliums (elephant garlic and garlic chives)
and swiss chard (a biennial but very productive)

good king henry failed from seed but I bought one live plant which established well (I didn't eat much of it as I wanted to build up its strength for future years)

fat hen grew from seed but was a bit rubbishy (leaves are so small it takes forever to pick it)

nine-star perenial brocolli almost killed by slugs but survived and is now thriving

salad burnet grew vigorously, drought and slug proof, a bit tough unless you selectively pick only the young leaves

I got enough weight in hop flowers from my Cascade plant for a single 23-litre homebrew batch (about 100g) but I discarded them because they didn't have any aroma and were covered in yucky whiteflies

got lots of berries from raspberry, jostaberry, red currant and white currant (cupboard still full of jam now in mid winter)


I'm planning to dig up more of the lawn this winter in preparation for a bigger patch next spring
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