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Tropical hugelkultur: with palm trunks?

 
Evelyn Bishop
Posts: 16
Location: Chiriqui, Panama at 400 meters Wet Tropics
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We would like to create our first hugelkultur bed on our wet tropics farm located in Panama. There are two locations I'm studying for this project. One area has fallen palm trunks that have been decomposing for about 2 years. The other area has a fallen hardwood tree, called Makano (Diphysia americana) that has left many large branches on the ground for maybe about a year. The area I'm most interested in designing first is the area with the palm trunks. Is there any reason why palm would not make a good base for a hugelkultur bed? I appreciate your responses. Pura Vida, Evelyn
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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I think the most important factor for your climate is going to be "how much and how fast is this material going to compact?" Those of us in fairly wet climates don't worry too much about the water storage aspect of hugelkultur, it's the long term availability of nutrients that we are looking for. But as the biomass breaks down and the nutrients are used up, the hugel will shrink in size. The first year I put in hugels, they shrank in half, and so I piled on more wood chips. Palm trunks aren't very dense to begin with, so I could imagine them shrinking down even more. However, if they have been decomposing for a length of time, you may not have as much shrinkage to deal with than if you used freshly fallen trees.
 
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