• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Stacking Functions for Better Hugelkultur

 
D. Logan
gardener
Posts: 557
Location: Soutwest Ohio
90
books food preservation forest garden rabbit tiny house
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have been toying with some thought experiments lately. Hugelkultur is stunning at water retention, but does have a few hurdles that come with it. One has been discussed recently, regarding the heavy potassium ratio in relation to other nutrients. The other is that it tends to lock up nitrogen for the first few years. In my head, I toyed around with a lot of ideas. I considered the Native American use of fish in their corn mounds. I thought of Joel Salatin burying chicken viscera among wood chips. I even considered creating winter hog pens over the wood that was to become the Hugelkutur. My final thought, which I am sharing with you now, was to stack functions with chickens and comfrey.

Chickens have incredibly nitrogen heavy droppings. So much so that they 'burn' the plans they touch if applied without allowing time to break down. On the other end is Comfrey, which is so packed with minerals we end up using it by itself to create a compost tea of the gods. I was thinking of layered wood, green comfrey and chicken litter as a foundation for a more effective hugelkultur. Possibly stack a few other things as well. I have seen concepts of charred wood improving the overall microecology. I could also see adding more diverse green manures in such as nettles and the like to offer a broader range of nutrient pockets. Once the lasagna layers were all in place, cover with soil as usual.

I picture it being built in the fall and allowed to settle over the winter. This would give time for the greens and chicken litter to break down and for the wood to begin absorbing a lot of water (at least for those whose wet season is in the winter months). The trade off is that some of the wood will break down quicker, but I am thinking it might be a way to avoid the nitrogen lock early on and to improve the overall nutrient content of the hugel mound. All the benefits of a hugel and a compost pile in the same mound, but negating the negatives of both such as loss of nitrogen in a normal compost pile.

Anyone have thoughts on this or perhaps experience? Notice major flaws in the idea that I missed?
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems like a good plan. I've been burying meat waste and bones. This should add nitrogen and reduce acidity as the bones break down. No problems with vermin so far. The bed is home to many reptiles. If mice come, they do so at their peril. If raccoons or bears show up, I will discontinue the practice.

Seaweed is readily available and I think it would be as good as comfrey.
 
D. Logan
gardener
Posts: 557
Location: Soutwest Ohio
90
books food preservation forest garden rabbit tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I favored comfrey since I figure it can be sourced on site for almost anyone. Growing it locally vs having it shipped always appealed to me. I did think about the meat issue (along the lines of the buried fish or Salatin viscera), but was more concerned about disease/break down time than I was about animals. I take it you've had no problems with that?
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Meat waste breaks down faster than just about anything. Roadkill could present health concerns. Lyme disease and in some areas rabies. Leprosy if you're burying armadillos. Bones and meat that have been cooked, shouldn't harbor disease. If vermin are attracted, then the aforementioned and the black plague are all remote possibilities.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic