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Three hugelkultur variations

 
Jesse D Henderson
Posts: 26
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I have the beginnings of three projects which use variations of hugelkultur.

1. No dig hugelkultur
This one started out as an accident. When I moved to my new house last fall, I had some quick renovations to make. The previous owner had rotting logs sitting under the deck. The neighbor's hedges were growing into my driveway. So I created a brush pile from hedge trimmings and other yard "waste" and weighed it all down with the rotting logs. After I finished I thought, "Crap! I forgot to dig!" But then I decided to just call it a compost pile (a no turn compost pile). In the following months I regularly sprinkled the pile with vegetable scraps and leaves. Then recently I created the "path hugelkultur" (see number 3). I took some of the resulting soil and placed it grass side down on top of the compost pile. Voila! Hugelkultur mound. Knowing that young hugelkulturs are less productive I decided to use this mound as a "luck garden." I had a stockpile of old seeds, some as much as 5 years old. I wasn't sure if they would germinate so I broadcast them onto the mound, shuffled the dirt around a bit and watered it in. The seeds included tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, corn, thyme, other herbs, wild flowers, and squash. I threw on some white and red clover seeds as well. I quickly wised up and decided I better shade the soil so it could retain moisture. I used bamboo branches that I had lying around (someone planted invasive running bamboo at a nearby creek, and I thinned it out a little...). We'll see how it turn out. So far it looks like I might have some germinating seeds - or it could be weeds. The mound has collapsed a little over time and it's currently about 3 feet high at it's peak, about 3 feet wide, and about 9 feet long.

2. Vertical log hugelkultur
This one has been done, but mine is level with the surrounding soil. It's adjacent to the no dig project. I dug a 2 ft deep hole and about 2ft by 3ft wide and long. I placed vertically additional rotting logs I found behind the shed. Then I covered with the unearthed dirt minus large stones (hey - replacing rocks with water sponges is a pretty good idea, right?). Along with the rotting logs came a bit of black, rich compost (formerly part of the log). I planted some red clover seeds on top to get a head start on nitrogen, and they have sprouted. I have a pretty awesome volunteer potato planting already growing from this one. It originated from potatoes that were hiding in my kitchen too long. So I cut it up in chunks and tossed it on the pile.

3. Path hugelkultur
This one is different. I spent some time watching the light patterns in my back yard. I noticed that the area under a central cedar tree is almost always shaded. That spot is pretty low relative to the rest of the yard, so it also has a tendency to get squishy. So my idea was to put the topsoil under the tree to better use in the sunlight. Meanwhile, I'd get started on a long term path design I have in mind. I dug 1 ft wide circle around the tree, filled it with spare tree limbs and the last of my rotting logs, added some sweet gum balls and leaves, and then topped it off with $6 worth of hardwood mulch. So this circle will serve as a drainage area/decomposition zone for yard waste. I removed some of the top soil and placed it on top of the no dig hugelkultur (see number 1). I moved the rest to the future location of blackberry and raspberry plantings. I'm going to plant those on a mound so they'll get proper drainage. So I see this one as a good example of stacked functions. It's a place to put put brush, an eventual place to walk to avoid soil compaction, and a source for surplus topsoil.

I'll keep you posted on the progress.
Cheers,
Jesse

Hugelmound.JPG
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No dig hugelkultur
VerticalLogHugel.JPG
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Vertical log hugelkultur
PathHugel.JPG
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Path hugelkultur
 
Jesse D Henderson
Posts: 26
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Here's a picture of the volunteer potato!
VolunteerPotato.JPG
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A potato that just felt like growing.
 
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