Louise Tuve Lundberg wrote:Hi!
I recently learned that Hugelkulture exists, sounds very interesting, but I haven't tried or even seen one yet.
I had planned to make something similar, but more flat, with branches under, then layers of soil and straw with goat manure. That's when a friend pointed me to find out more about hugel beds.
My main reason for raising the beds is that this part of my garden is water logged during winter, and sometimes also during rainy summers. I live in southern Sweden. The soil is medium clay.
I want to use this part of the garden, which is about 200 square metres, sunny position, very slight northward slope, for a mixture of apple trees (espalier), blueberry, the high ones, and possibly also cranberries and lingonberry, plus various annual vegetable crops.
Espalier is a technique usually used against a wall or fence line since the branches need support all along them so they will hold the fruit. Blueberry, cranberry and lingonberry are acid lovers needing a lower than 6.0 pH, they all are happiest in a pH of 5.8-5.6
For the blueberries etc, I will need to use peat (which I have saved from a job I had), because the soil here is too calcareous for them otherwise.
Apples and others will get my ordinary top soil, and since I'm digging a pond, there will be enough of it.
I have some logs, stumps and smaller branches, both spruce and birch, beech and willow (well dead since the goats ate the bark). I also have lots of strawbed from the goats' winter stable.
The questions I have is that when I search, I mainly find hugel beds used in arid conditions. This is not the case here, more that I want to get the plant roots higher above the water level. Has anyone used them like this? Logic says it would be good, but how about experience?
Hugel beds were developed in Germany and Austria, they will work for your project but you will need to dig down and incorporate a lot of dead wood. Mounds are not the place to plant trees since they will settle over time which would disturb the tree's roots in a fatal way. Trees are normally planted just away from the bottom edge of a mound, where they have access to the stored water but not the settling actions of the mound.
Another question for me is what would like to grow on the shady north side?
There are many planting guides that list the plants that prefer partial to full shade, those plants would be good choices for this space.
How would you place an apple espalier - on the top, or on one of the slopes? I want to be able to prune and pick, so I wouldn't want them too high up if I can't walk next to them on the mound.
As I have mentioned, espalier technique is more for growing trees against a wall or fence since the branches must be supported so they won't break from the weight of the fruit. Combine that with the nature of mounds and you have an ideal spot at the base of the mound, you could build a fence into the mound to support the espaliered tree(s).
The size of my area is about 20 metres in east-westerly direction, and 10 metres in north-southerly.
How would you have arranged hugel beds with these conditions? If you orient the mounds on the North-South axis, you would get sun on both sides as it arcs across the sky. If you orient the mounds East-West, you would have a south face and a north face. I personally would orient North - South for maximum sun exposure. This would allow a larger percentage of the mounds to be planted in vegetables, bushes and trees would need to go at the upper end so they don't shade areas for vegetables or grapes or bush berries, etc.
Katy Whitby-last wrote: It will give the plants a chance to establish before they try to send their roots down into the nasty stuff which was also very rocky.
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