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Hugelkultur introduction/inspiration vectors

 
Eleanor Justice
Posts: 7
Location: Pennsylvania
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Hiya!

I'm a blueberry farmer in Pennsylvania and this weekend I'm giving a free workshop on hugelkultur during a Homesteading Days event at the request of one of the organizers. They asked me because I spend so much of the berry season explaining the hugelkultur beds in my kitchen garden, which is right next to the berry stand.

Normally I'd have said that I wasn't enough of an expert to give a workshop because I've only built those four submerged hugel beds, but something Paul said in one of his fantabulous podcasts about getting more people interested in permaculture had apparently lodged in my brain and I said yes specifically so that I could use this opportunity to be an "inspiration vector" for an audience mostly unfamiliar with the concepts of permaculture.

That being said, I wanted to reach out and ask you: what are the top three things you wish someone had told you when you were first hearing about hugelkultur?

Are the aspects you found most appealing before you'd created hugelkultur beds and projects the same ones you're most enamored of now?

If you were me, and hoping to get a roomful of other newbies fired up about hugelkultur, would you be focusing on the water conservation and future reduced labor aspects, or does something else seem shinier to you?

Thanks so much for your input ~ and fingers crossed that come sunday evening at least half of the workshop attendees sign up!

 
Mountain Krauss
Posts: 130
Location: Northern California
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In addition to the water conservation, I'm excited about intercepting part of our waste stream (wood waste) and putting it to a valuable purpose (building soil) instead of into landfill or a burn pile. Because my land is hilly, I'm also very interested in hugelkultur as a form of erosion control, and as a cheap & easy version of terracing.
 
allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Eleanor Justice : Do you know the lecturers trick, "Is this full yet" Demonstration ! You can google it for abetter idea the key word here is YET !

Have a Jar with chunks of wood and bark about the size of eggs or a little smaller, whip it out and say 'is it full'?, A shill in the could works wonders
here! Then whip out a second jar with twigs and sticks intermingled with the other small pieces of wood, ''is this full''?, then a a third jar with Sawdust
intermingled the twigs and sticks! This will take a little time the secret weapon in this is in the finish, the jar should be carefully prepared so that it
looks full, The Sawdust needs to be very damp but well drained ! This will allow you to add a surprising amount of water which if the sawdust is
damp will hold more water than bone dry sawdust in the same way that a damp sponge will soak up more water than a Very Dry sponge will !
your audience will begin to believe you about how your hugelculture bed works, when you turn your jar over at the end of your class and very little
water runs out, they will remember the most important part ! Good luck if you have any problem grasping my attempt to give you the short version
Just Google " Is this Glass Full YET?" Knock them dead ! For the Good of the Crafts ! Big AL
 
Eleanor Justice
Posts: 7
Location: Pennsylvania
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Very good idea ~ thanks a bunch!
:>
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 1926
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Drainage, adding fungal material to the soil, getting rid of excess wood. We need drainage bad in the winter here in wet PNW. I think you need it in summer.

Fungal material in soil is key for growing trees and shrubs that have wood in them. I cultivate mushrooms, so I usually have some wood I need to get rid of.

I wish that I knew to dig out the soil first. Then I wish I knew to put soil over the layers of wood. I also wish I knew to put in say, branches, or leaves, not in uniform layers, but in different amounts in different places. I also wish I knew to be patient and not plant too much the first year, then gradually add in as the wood starts to decompose into soil.
John S
PDX OR
 
wayne fajkus
Posts: 440
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Some small talk about examples of mimicking nature would be good.

" you never see a row of the same plant in nature. There's one here, one over there, another that way. This prevents bugs from hopping from one plant to another"

"You notice how in nature you dont have 2 ft of bare dirt between one plant and another? One plant has deep roots that loosen the soil and brings nutrients to the top. Another one is providing shade for the other. All of them combined are shading the ground (keeping it moist), and feeding the microbes in the soil. Yet we spend out time "weeding" our gardens. Then we have to till it cause it compacts. And the young broccoli is getting sunburnt cause there's no shade"

Etc etc etc
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