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My first hugel.

 
Hans Harker
Posts: 114
Location: Chcago IL
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Well, i thought i'll document the creation of my first hugel. Maybe i'll get some comments, ideas or suggestions from you guys

The landlord cut down a lot of trees on the property this spring and hauled away most of the wood but i managed to convince hm to leave some of the wood and let me make a huge bed. It did take two months of getting on his case but finally we ended up excavating 33X36' 3-4 feet deep.

I filled it with wood mixed with various organic debris -mostly bark yesterday and flooded it with water today. I sprinkled it all with sea weed extract and covered it with fairly fresh horse manure.

Next step's going to be piling up the rest of the cut up tree trunks and thick branches on top of the northern part of the excavation 4-5 feet wide and 4-5 feet tall as well. Then i think i'm going to cover it all ( the mound and the flat part) with some chopped up branches, throw all the excavated soil on it, cover it with well aged horse manure and mulch it with chipped branches.




 
Dianne Goodacre
Posts: 13
Location: Duncan, BC
hugelkultur rabbit tiny house
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You're way ahead of me! Mine is 4'x8' and just used some dead wood pruned from a maple tree, and an old pile of dry grass. But mine is cute!
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a hugelkritter appeared!
 
Hans Harker
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Location: Chcago IL
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Dianne Goodacre wrote:You're way ahead of me! Mine is 4'x8' and just used some dead wood pruned from a maple tree, and an old pile of dry grass. But mine is cute!


Yes it is cute. Welcome to Permies
 
Dianne Goodacre
Posts: 13
Location: Duncan, BC
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Thanks! How is your hugel doing?
 
Hans Harker
Posts: 114
Location: Chcago IL
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Dianne Goodacre wrote:Thanks! How is your hugel doing?


it's still in the process of forming. All the wood is in place an maybe 5 tons of dirt covers it by now by the virtue of pitchfork and wheelbarrow. There's probably 2 more tons waiting for the same courtesy from my sore back and achy wrists. I'm getting plenty of time to reflect upon my life (youth in particular for whatever reason) and place in the universe as i'm moving, mixing and aerating the soil. I'm feeling much closer to earthworms now

I did bring 2-3 tons of horse manure today. I was trying to get me some aged stuff from the back of the pile but it started raining cats and dogs and i got stuck in mud as i was trying to haul it away. I had to dump whatever i had shoveled on the trailer and the stables worker towed our truck and then the trailer out of the mud with a tractor. He did load up the trailer again but it was from the front of the pile - still steaming so i'm thinking i'll put it on top of what i got now, over it with some hoped up branches and then cover it with the soil i got still available and maybe make another trip to the stable for some aged manure when the ground dries up.
 
Dianne Goodacre
Posts: 13
Location: Duncan, BC
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Hang in there! It'll be great when it's done. Mine had to be small to fit the space, time and materials I had, but you should have a productive garden soon.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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That is going to be one nice garden when you get to planting in it. All that Horse manure is wonderful to have available, the way you are building the mound and flat, the fresh will compost in place nicely.
 
Hans Harker
Posts: 114
Location: Chcago IL
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Thank you for all the encouragement. It's work and for most part it's hard for me to get out of the 'i need more' frame of mind -more time, more wood, more manure and so on. Your comments guys help.

Well i've covered the mound and the flat part with the manure i had and now it feels like i may be getting there.
 
Dianne Goodacre
Posts: 13
Location: Duncan, BC
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Looking good! Is there still time this year to plant anything where you are? Something like kale?
 
Hans Harker
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Location: Chcago IL
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Dianne Goodacre wrote:Looking good! Is there still time this year to plant anything where you are? Something like kale?


Actually we may have 4 more months of a growing season here, 3 and a half at least so i'm still hoping to grow nice crop. As a matter of fact we finished the southern slope of the mound today. I covered it with top soil, me, my wife and kids casted a bunch of different seeds on it, i topped it with a layer of chipped wood and wife with kids covered it all with some weeds that grew abundantly just next to the hugel.

We seeded some squash, cantaloupe, sweet peas, broccoli, carrots, wild strawberries, white strawberries and maybe few more i can't remember.
 
Dianne Goodacre
Posts: 13
Location: Duncan, BC
hugelkultur rabbit tiny house
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Awesome! I poked a bunch of different seeds into mine as well, greens, onions, corn (not really expecting much) and 3 pathetic tomato starts. Two died already (wood bugs) but one might make it. Lots of weeds are popping up, which is ok by me, as it's best to have something growing rather than nothing, and they'll hold the slope and shade it. It'll be fun to see what comes up.
We actually got over half an inch of rain over the weekend, so it was perfect timing.
I also started a mini hugel spiral only six inches high, a continuation of something I started a couple of years ago. I wish I had known about hugels
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herb spiral
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herbs
 
Susan Doyon
Posts: 146
Location: Massachusetts
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Voy that looks great
I did a sunken Hugel also last july and let it sit over 1 season Hugle post
and I am planning to add another next month
this year we planted
we just have winter and summer squash planted on it so far and I am getting ready to add more plants Trying to decide what I can trust the deer with


next one will go in a poor draining area same idea dig down 2-3 feet to loosen and move and amend the clay that slows peculation and then fill the trench with wood , compost and weeds and cover with the sub soi,l then top soil then mulch every thing with wood chips

 
Dianne Goodacre
Posts: 13
Location: Duncan, BC
hugelkultur rabbit tiny house
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My neighbor needed room for his rv so part of the hedge had to go. Kind of like paving paradise to put up a parking lot. At least the logs and branches were salvaged so now I'm starting another hugel.
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in memory of a cedar hedge
 
Hans Harker
Posts: 114
Location: Chcago IL
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Update:

The hugel mound did so so in terms of producing vegetables this year with the exception of the bottom part that did fairly good.
The flat, buried in the ground part did and still is doing exceptionally well. Beets, carrots, parsley, potatoes, tomatoes, herbs, beens and peas grew abundantly. The only hing that didn't grow was cucumbers that started off nice but when the fruits started showing up they were very pale and the plants wilted quickly.

Cabbages, kale, onions and beets are still growing.

I added two more mounds on the sides connected to the one on the north end last week so now we have a C shaped space protected form the east, west and north and exposed towards the south. I'm planing on growing worm weather plants in there next year or even getting some greenhouse foil and growing things for transplants there early spring.
 
Adam Rust
Posts: 8
Location: Northern Kentucky
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I recently completed my first hugel experiment. It's about 8 feet wide at the base, about 30 feet long, and about 4.5 feet high. I am working with a bit of an advantage because I own excavation equipment and I have an arborist dumping waste wood (logs and woodchips) at my property, so I have no excuses holding me back from doing lots of hugel experiments. I kept this first one pretty simple so that I could get the hang of it before moving on to more advanced stuff.

I simply dug a pit about 8 feet wide, 20 inches deep, and 30 feet long. I put mostly branches in the bottom, then added whole logs and firewood rounds on top. I put in material that was already significantly rotted. Then I put on several cubic yards of horse manure (thanks to my neighbor's supply of it). Then a layer of woodchips to mix with the manure. Then I took the sod I had removed in the excavation and turned it upside down and draped it over the pile. Then I put the soil that I removed from the pit on top of the sod. I then finished it all off with another layer of woodchips. I did this entire thing in one day.

About a week after construction, we planted cantaloupe starts and squash starts on it. So far, the cantaloupe are struggling and the squash seem like they are doubling in size every day. I'm on the edge of my seat to see how everything works with this over time. We're keeping our expectations low for this first season, but I'm optimistic that it's going to produce wonderfully in subsequent years.

Note: This mound runs north/south, so the growing surfaces are mostly on the east and west. I wouldn't normally orient a bed this way, but we did so on this one because it's also serving the function of being an important landscape break at the end of our yard. We knew we needed to do something in that spot anyway, so I figured why not make it a hugel bed. My plans for future hugel beds will involve orienting them in an east/west fashion so as to optimize the southern exposure of our property.

I welcome any input, feedback, suggestions, etc. I'm still learning about this stuff. It's super fun!


P.S. I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this, but I thought it would be fun to add a case study to the "first hugel" thread. Let me know if I should post this somewhere else instead.
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The wood and the manure
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With the sod and soil back on top
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Finished product (3 year old added for scale)
 
Dianne Goodacre
Posts: 13
Location: Duncan, BC
hugelkultur rabbit tiny house
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My little hugels have really taken off this year, even the one using cedar.  How are things with you others?
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maple hugel
 
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