The latest Permaculture Voices podcast with Diego from P Voices discussed Hugels with a guest that had studied under Sepp H.
They mentioned a successful broadacre Hugel using only 3ft high Hugels. This is the height of my trial hugel on my allotment.
The guest said dont plant a tree on top a hugel as the soil will change profile over time and not be consistent for the tree's roots.
I have just planted a plum tree o ntop of my 2 year old hugel and the soil was nice and dark and fungal looking in the hugel. I hopew the tree's roots will help stabilise the hugel. It has certainly dropped a foot over the 2 years. A loquat has also taken near the base.
They said treesshould be planted at the base. Root crops in the middle slope if i recall correctly.
They also discussed the appropriate use of hugels and said Sepp uses hugels to build soil in poor areas, fills them with jerusalem artichokes and then after a few years the pigs till them up and he flattens them and grows field crops. So the hugels are only temporary and part of soil building. I own Sepp Holtzers permaculture book and have listened to lots of podcasts and read forum posts and some articles and this is the first I have heard of the temporary nature of a hugel! Urgh, a bit confused.
This diagram shows a hugel, swale, and berm combination by S e p p H o l z e r. (edit twice: his name wasn't capitalizing)
Hugels can be used for multiple purposes, as with many things in permaculture; functionality can be stacked. Hugels also serve as riparian zones for water loving plants because of the decaying wood's capacity to store water. Maybe this is what you are having trouble with? The information being presented is not per say conflicting, I think, but rather, complimentary.
I think the hugel bed could be turned into a swale and berm after the wood decomposes. It really just depends on what you want to get out of it and what your vision for the site is. I'm not quite sure why you are confused; by what you told me, you have the knowledge- do as you see fit!
Great diagram thanks. So should I dig up my newly planted tree on top of the hugel and replant in the valley?
My confusion for want of a better phrase is maybe an unfair suggestion that diagrams and articles I have read up to now that inspired me to trial a hugel bed were not as clear or detailed as they might have been.
I have just completed a raised Hugel, and after settling, my entire purpose was to plant 3 Japanese maples it in. With their broad, spreading roots, I'm not certain how this would impact the tree.
Now, in "regular" raised beds, the layers I've put in over the years (more dirt, compost, wood chips, etc) have helped the roots maintain their nice covered place.
This isn't how one could treat a tree in a Hugel? I can't see that it needs to settle flat...
Tim, correct me if you think I'm wrong please, I looked up the information for a loquat tree on PFAF, and it says a loquat prefers well-draining soils and needs warmth to produce fruit. Because of this, I think planting the loquat on the slope of berm facing the sun would be the best place; the sun-facing side will absorb the heat- storing it for later- and the gradient of the slope will help will draining water. I do not think placing it near the valley would be a good idea because moist cold air would flow down the hill, unless stones are on that side to store and release heat.
Christine, the general idea, I think, for a hugel bed is to store water for the duration of the wood being there, and after it has decomposed, you have soil. How well the hugel holds its shape probably depends on the roots of the plants living there and how the soil life is there. I looked up the Japanese Maple, and I think it would do well on the slope right before the valley because there is more moisture there. I guess you could keep adding stuff to the hugel bed to keep enriching the soil; it isn't really a straight answer, but there is nothing wrong with not adding stuff to it because the plants produce their own mulch and should be able to manage just fine without you. Though, I'm sure they would appreciate anything you give them.
My hugel runs north south, the loquat is on the midslope of the east side. Im not holding out much hope of fruit unless we get a warm sept, oct. My Japanese neighbour said they have fruited in a friend's garden in London, prob the shelter and urban environment helped there.
I dug up the plum and planted it in the valley. It was bare root and hadn't even started rooting it seemed so no prob there. I have direct sown garlic and fava (broad) beans and they are germinating.
Strawberries have been the runaway (literally) success and have colonised the hugel and valley nicely.
Trees like Willow are often planted alongside river banks to hold the soil so I think a midslope tree would also work. I have soft fruit also planted on the peak of my hugel, but so far it has not taken that well.
today's feeble attempt to support the empire
Hope in a World of Crisis - Water Cycle Restoration