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Getting started with hugel kultur

 
Marie Beausoleil
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I'll jump in with a question for my first post.

My garden area - starting from the northwest side, I have ten 4x15' beds, and then another row the same and then ... a mess. We tossed sod there and then didn't get to it, and a bunch of brush and old rotting logs and then didn't get to them ... we were going to make some of the beds be hugels but I think I didn't really understand the concept. Oh, yea, in that mess is our first attempt at a hugelbet 4x15' two years ago - last year the weeds took over, but they grew beautifully (yarrow, poppies, lambsquarters - it was hard to think of them as weeds!) and everything in there is well rotted now. It started about 4' high and now it's just gently mounded. Ooops.

I had major health problems all last year, ending in surgery. So now I'm at the garden again.

My question is this - the space that is a big mess, it's about 60' long and 30' wide - would that be a size for a hugelbet? Too big? The mass of brush and sods runs the long way.

Do I just plant it in as normal? How do I access the top? Walking on it is bad, right? I try not to ever walk on my garden beds.

I guess I'm still a little baffled about how hugelbets work, exactly.

 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho
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books food preservation fungi hugelkultur trees
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I'm not entirely sure what you have to deal with here, but an area 60' x 30' would incorporate one helluva hugel mound! You could do something Holzer-esque and make the thing twelve feet high by fifteen feet wide the entire sixty feet long, but that would more than likely use up more material than what you have available. BTW you would need to build something like a path midway up the slopes to access the tops, which is acceptable to do. If it were me I would start to reclaim that big mess incrementally by building some new beds and just chipping away at the mess from the edges. Maybe tear down your old hugelbed, and rebuild some new ones, using the soil from the old bed on top of the new beds. I would construct the new beds to be about six or seven feet tall to start with and about the same width. Keep the sides nice and steep and you shouldn't have much trouble accessing the upper reaches of the hugels (unless you are pretty short, then adjust the height accordingly). I think that six foot or so height is going to get you the best results with that type of bed though.
 
Marie Beausoleil
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We've adjusted. There are going to be five 15x10' hills with paths between. We have the first one partially built now. There's so much rotting and half-rotten wood on the property, I don't know if I'll lack for materials - just time and energy to get it done.

I AM actually short - I'm 5' tall. Husband is 5'10". We're looking to make the bed about 6' tall with the assumption that it'll settle some.

Hoping this works! And there will still be some space on the south side of it where I can put some cold frames and tomato planters - should make a nicely sheltered area.
 
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