• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

81 year old guy starting with HugelKultur has a question on peat moss

 
LeRoy Martinez
Posts: 12
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi all,
I'm a new guy here from SW Montana. I'd like to say that I'm in zone 4 but I think zone 3 is more accurate.
We had a tornado? Or at least very high winds with quite a bit of damage in August of 2013. We had two large old cottonwood trees that got blown over. They were blocking the road but friends showed up with chainsaws and got the road cleared. Then later others came and got the smaller more manageable chunks for firewood.

So a couple of weeks ago I stumbled across this site and slowly a light bulb started flickering in my head. Could it be that I could kill 3 birds with one stone? Could I bury these cottonwood chunks, clean up an unsightly bunch of wood piled along the roadway and create some more gardening area all at the same time? The more I thought about the better it sounded.

First I would have to split these chunks with a sledge and wedge so I started on that and found that cottonwood is not very cooperative and it was going to take some time. An idle comment at coffee a couple of days later produced my hunting buddy with a chainsaw and splitter.
It took all day till almost dark to get them all split but that was a lifesaver. It was a 22 ton splitter and it struggled with a few of them.

So now I am loading these in a small garden trailer pulled with a 4 wheeler and moving them on site and piling them against the uprooted tree roots. These roots and the attached dirt are about 5 foot tall and is giving me a head start on a bed.

These trees were growing alongside an old irrigation ditch as cottonwoods like to do. When they got blown over they fell across the ditch and just left enough room between the root ball and the drop off to the river for the 4 wheeler and trailer. I can pull alongside the roots and unload the chunks easily. Had these trees blown over in the opposite direction they would have been in the river and the beavers would have got them instead of me.
Since this is my first post I will try to get some pictures uploaded but no guarantee.

And I have a question: I have 2 or 3 bales of peat moss and I am wondering if it's okay to scatter this in with the dirt, manure, leaves etc. I would like to get rid of this peat moss because it's always in the way and I never use it for anything else. I looked through a lot of these posts and did not see much about peat moss, good or bad.
I hope someone will answer that for me so I can scatter it in as I go. Or not!

Thanks in advance, LeRoy
IMG_5723.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5723.JPG]
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
LeRoy Martinez wrote:
So a couple of weeks ago I stumbled across this site and slowly a light bulb started flickering in my head. Could it be that I could kill 3 birds with one stone? Could I bury these cottonwood chunks, clean up an unsightly bunch of wood piled along the roadway and create some more gardening area all at the same time? The more I thought about the better it sounded.


Welcome to Permies.

Permaculture is all about killing 3 birds with one stone - we call it "stacking functions."

The only reason people frown on peat moss that I'm aware of is that it's a non-renewable resource. If you have it on hand and want to get rid of it, I'd say use it up. Probably wont affect the pH of the soil if it's not a huge percent of the fill.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cotton wood does not split, it is strong by being soft.

Peat would be great in there. The problem with peat is the way it is harvested, I don't like to buy it anymore. But if you have it, use it!
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cottonwood is hard to split if it is allowed to sit. If you split it on the day it is cut, everything goes easier. A maul works better than an axe. The wood has quite a bit of give and a thin axe will stick, while a dull maul can do it.

Most woods that are tough to split due to softness, will split when frozen.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Pie
Posts: 3549
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
129
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
howdy Leroy, welcome to permies! Keep us updated on your progress.
 
LeRoy Martinez
Posts: 12
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks everybody, I'll go ahead and use 2 of the bales and give one away. There was a truck loaded with these bales from Canada wrecked ten miles out. They were asking for people to take them so they could clear the highway. I had 14 or so bales and gave most away.
 
Karen Walk
Posts: 122
Location: VT, USA Zone 4/5
3
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi LeRoy! Awesome project.

I built my first Hugel bed this year and it is kicking ass. I have a few observations / suggestions that might be useful for you:

1. If you are starting out with a 5 foot wood pile, it will be even taller by the time it gets covered with soil. This means that the top can be tough to reach.

2. My hugel bed is 5-6 feet tall. When I realized that it was going to be difficult to reach the very top, I "planted" some stones in the bed that I could step on later. I can't recommend this enough, and I wish I had twice as many. Not only are the stones useful for reaching higher into the bed, but they are also a sort of mulch, and they absorb heat from the sun.

3. If you don't want to climb up the bed much, plant spreading plants up at the top. The zucchini and pumpkins I planted up top did phenomenally better that the ones on the lower (North) side. And the vegetables grow down towards you.

Have fun with it!

Karen
 
LeRoy Martinez
Posts: 12
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Karen,
What zone are you in?
I figured on planting melons and squash on the south facing slope and cool weather stuff on the north side, strawberries for one thing.
We have a deer problem here so I have to keep that in mind as I go along. One side is bordered by the river so they can't get in that way but the other 3 sides I'll have to figure something. I'm thinking maybe a rustic pole enclosure with wire. Also I could do solar powered electric but I don't care much for that idea.
Have you posted any pictures of your project here?

On a side note I have a 12' X 24' greenhouse and last year I loaded up all the containers with wood chips and it really made a difference in the soil and the weed problem I had.
One long container that runs down the middle of the greenhouse is two tomato plants wide X 14 tomato plants long. Then I have several other containers like
one stock water tank, one ISB container and 6 half barrels.
I plant all heirloom open pollinated seeds that I saved from Seeds Of Change way back when they were a great company. Honeydew, cantaloupe, Nardello peppers
and several varieties of tomatoes.
I just picked the last of the Black Krim and Red House tomatoes 3 days ago. The leaves had froze with the 20 degree nights we've had but the tomatoes were fine.

Sometimes I get carried away with this early morning writing while waiting for the sun to come up.
LeRoy
 
Karen Walk
Posts: 122
Location: VT, USA Zone 4/5
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Leroy,

I'm in Zone 4, although it's been acting like Zone 5 this year.

I don't have any photos of my hugel posted. When I'm out, I'm usually working and rarely taking photos. Your greenhouse sounds great! I have one of those in the works (also 12'x24'), but right now it's just a hole in the ground. Hoping to get it buttoned up before the snow flies. Sounds like we can all learn a lot from you about seed saving and growing.

I'd definitely recommend putting the squash on top/south. Kale and root veggies did pretty well on the North. I have mostly tomatoes on the South. Also some carrots, eggplant, peppers and potatoes. I didn't get many potatoes. They seem to be the only thing that really cared about the high clay content topsoil.

Good luck with your hugel. Keep us all posted on your progress!

--
Karen
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic