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Raised Hugel Bed

 
pollinator
Posts: 285
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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I love my green leafy vegetables so in the interest of having a "greens" bed that I access several times a day, and won't have to stoop down in my old age, I built a 36" high raised bed (copying something I saw at a frenchman's restaurant garden). Using all recycled lumber to build the box, I filled the bottom half with logs, then a deep layer of smaller limbs/twigs/leaves/soil,whatever, then the top quarter enriched soil. I'm sure over time that my plants are getting access to richer soil down deep, but I'm disappointed that it still dries out quickly in the top 6" like any other raised bed, even in partial shade. So now I'm thinking the walls are too thin. Maybe I should have lined the walls with 4-6" limbs, like a log house, in order to get the insulation and absorption for water retention? Those limbs would rot, benefiting the topsoil. I wonder how many years they would last before I have to dig out and re-line the box with new logs....? Or would deep top mulching this bed just like ground beds do the trick for water retention?

Charlotte kitty always wants to be the center of attention
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Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
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Don't most greens have fairly shallow root systems?

Although you may have some moisture loss through the sides, I think most will be from the top. A good layer of mulch will help. You might also plant in wide bands so the greens shade the soil.

As I've written previously, I'm amazed at a planter I have that would typically require frequent watering but this year I added 3-4" of 1/4" wood chips and hardly need to water at all!
 
Susan Pruitt
pollinator
Posts: 285
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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Hey Michael, I thought lettuce roots were shallow too until I read this:
http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137ch34.html

The article talks about their root systems adapting to soil compaction etc., and I wonder if my short spring season didn't allow them to go that deep. (HOT now)

As for mulch, I have achieved those results with my other veggies but in my fantasy salad garden I've been experimenting with scattering a few seeds each week to keep a succession of greens going at all times. So far it's not working without mulch, and I was afraid mulch would discourage the delicate sprouts from coming through - haven't found the magic balance.
 
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Susan, what about lining the interior wall of the bed with straw or hay? I'm building a hugal raised bed now and thought it might dry out not having the sides of the hugal mound. I was also concerned it might slow the break down of woody material.
 
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Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
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