I have read in other threads how russian olives are a nitrogen fixer. But I have not found anything about anyone using the wood in a hugelculture.
Is it a good wood for a hugelculture and will it still be a nitrogen fixer ?
Russian Olives are nitrogen fixing (from what I have read), but only while they are alive. To use wood for a hugelkultur you need to cut it down and bury it, so the russian olive would no longer be fixing nitrogen as logs in your hugelkultur. You could grow russian olives near or on your hugel and get the nitrogen fixing properties from it that way.
Just in case you were asking whether the wood from Russian Olives is good to use when building your hugelcultures, I did a search here on permies (using the "Search" link at the top of the page) and searched in the hugelculture forum for the words "russian" and "olive". I turned up one thread where people report having good success using this wood in their hugels:
Thanks for the welcome and the replies. I've read a lot on on here and learned great deal. I'm new to permaculture but I believe it's the only way to go. I wish I would have learned about it a long time ago.
I went to the other thread Dan sent me and everything on it sounded really possitive. That's great!!! they are riping them out by the thousands
here and I have access to a lot of it. now all I need is the soil to cover em up
Howdy JR, welcome to permies!
Too bad they are ripping them out by the thousands, they know not what they do.
Russian Olives are a tree that makes way for other trees, they add nitrogen, shade, windbreak, mulch and on and on.
Seems like somewhere along the way some "expert" has deemed them a nuisance and now we are loosing one of mother natures best trees.
We have had an abundance of Russian Olive fall in to our laps this season also. I'm happy to see it can be used in hugelkultur beds, this is our first season trying them out. The farmers in our valleys were told they would only be able to draw up 50% of the water they did last year from the wells. I think these are the best solutions for the majority of our problems!
I was told by someone who knows recently that pollarding russian olive works great. Here, pollarded willows are the most common tree (pollarding means coppicing up high, out of the reach of browsing animals). We've got a couple of russian olives that have gotten big, and a local farmer told me that it's fine to cut them off like willows in late winter. They'll make loads of straight shoots just like willow, but much harder, he said. I've seen elsewhere on this site, I think, that "Russian olive eats saw blades for lunch."
But I don't know if cattle will eat it for fodder. Around here, willows and poplars get badly stripped and eaten if not protected, but Russian olive doesn't seem to get browsed much.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Trees are cut off at some distance above the ground, so that new sprouts appear. These are grown out to firewood size and harvested as needed. The existing root system makes it so new sprouts are able to grow very quickly.
Hopefully from what you've read on this thread, you know that Russian olive makes for a good hugelkultur wood. I have several hugelbeets that contain a large amount of Russian olive wood. It does seem to rot reasonably fast. If you haven't cut them yet, you are in for quite a battle. It is tough on your chainsaw and will fight you as you try to chip it as the wood takes such strange shapes and it's so hard. The thorns are an added bonus. It will aggressively root sprout from their stumps. The mature trees I have even sprout from their bases with numerous long sprouts every year even with tall, fully formed trees. These are easily removed with a sharp pair of loppers. If the wood is buried green it may try to resprout so be aware of that possibility. I just pulled the sprouts from the mounds as they appeared and after year two I've seen none. Good luck with your project.