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Hugelkultur illustration

 
Dave Miller
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Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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It has been showery here for a week and this morning I noticed the "hugelkultur effect" demonstrated in my driveway:





I know we have all seen this before with a pile of organic matter on an impervious surface but I thought it would be good to snap a photo for illustration purposes.

Upon close inspection of the barkdust pile I noticed that the water only penetrated about 12 inches, below that it was completely dry.  But still that was enough to give off water after the rain stopped (which it did yesterday).
 
Emil Spoerri
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Oh shoot, we have one of those on a permieable surface, made of gutter debris with what looks like a nut tree, perhaps tree of heaven? This stuff smells bad and goats don't even like it. Thought perhaps I should just cut off the bark around the trunk and cut off most of the top to kill the shad... either way gonna plant squash in it right now!
 
paul wheaton
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bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
Dave Miller
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paul wheaton wrote:
When was the last time it didn't rain?

It stopped raining yesterday about noon.  I would guess that it will continue to exude water for another day or two.
 
Brenda Groth
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cool so the area down hill from it is getting the water nearly 2  days later..good to know
 
Dave Miller
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Well by last night the cement was dry, but it was mostly sunny all day which evaporates water off the cement quickly.  This morning the cement was wet again, though a bit less than yesterday morning.  I suspect that the flow is more or less steady, decreasing over time, but is only visible on the cement when not exposed to the sun (i.e. at night or if the sky has thick clouds).

I imagine this would be true of a hugelkultur berm on a slope - the ground surface may dry out if the sun is out, but will be re-wetted at night or if the sun is blocked.
 
Emil Spoerri
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adunca wrote:
Well by last night the cement was dry, but it was mostly sunny all day which evaporates water off the cement quickly.  This morning the cement was wet again, though a bit less than yesterday morning.  I suspect that the flow is more or less steady, decreasing over time, but is only visible on the cement when not exposed to the sun (i.e. at night or if the sky has thick clouds).

I imagine this would be true of a hugelkultur berm on a slope - the ground surface may dry out if the sun is out, but will be re-wetted at night or if the sun is blocked.


ah yes but wouldn't the slope be covered in shading plant matter?
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Emile Spore wrote:
ah yes but wouldn't the slope be covered in shading plant matter?


Evapotranspiration still happens, plants or not.
 
Emil Spoerri
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Emerson White wrote:
Evapotranspiration still happens, plants or not.


not to the same extent as bare earth. Also, plants with proper soil biology and nutrients let out much less water than plants in less than ideal conditions.
 
Dave Miller
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Update 6/12: The water seems to be mostly in the top 12 inches and the bottom 12 inches, with much more in the bottom 12 than the top 12.  In between it is fairly dry. 

I took some more pictures:





The sun on the moist pile also made quite a cloud of steam:
 
Chelle Lewis
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Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
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Wow.... what an impressive demonstration of water holding capacity!
 
rose macaskie
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It is interesting and makes for believing or really appreciating the worth of a lot of vegetable matter. I did not know it made such a big difference, your photos are a revelation.
    It rather changes that smart cleanness of the street,  Your neighbors will spit on your interest in giving evidence to scientific things, you are making the street look like a farm yard.
    When the lettuce in my kitchen turns suddenly into a brown mush with nothing solid left in it, i wonder how usefull different types of organic matter are. If it is the sort of plant matter that suddenly collapses completely it can't be so very good at breaking up soils or making them absorb more. agri rose macaskie.
 
Dave Miller
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Well after four dry (including one hot - low 80's) days, I have noticed that the barkdust is pretty evenly moist throughout, except the bottom two inches which are super saturated.  Water is not visibly draining from the pile during the day, but first thing in the morning there is still water trickling from the pile.
 
Chelle Lewis
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I have made underground reservoirs under my pathways in my Food Forest I am trying to get established .... makes me wish I had a way to put some sort of material like the barkdust down there too.... but have finished rock and mortar paths on top now. I want to irrigate from underground instead of on top and lose so much to evaporation.

Making pathways of just this sort of material is worth considering for anyone starting out. Just need enough to keep it topped up as it composts down. Depth might be important to make it worthwhile.

Very interesting thread. Thanks for sharing.

Chelle
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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