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First hugelkultur bed thoughts/questions....

 
Tom Breslawski
Posts: 2
Location: Hamlin, NY
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Hello all,

I'm pleased to have found this site a while back and have been reading up on many of the techniques here. Last week, I built my first hugelkultur bed, using mostly dead/rotted wood that I was able to harvest from my property. I dug down about a foot into our clay soil in the corner of my 2500 sf vegetable garden. The bed size is 6x6, roughly, maybe just a hair more. In went the logs, then branches, followed by sticks. I topped it off with some old and some new grass clippings (2-4 inches) and then the soil that I dug out (coverage of 3-6 inches). Since it's late in the season, I simply covered with shredded leaves for the winter (NY, zone 6b).

I now realize that I should have probably layered some dirt with the wood as I built the bed, rather than going with simply wood. I laughed as I built it and said to my daughter that it feels like I'm building a big mouse nest..... I'm sure they'll be in there, but we'll deal with it.

Now my questions;

Would it be advisable to take the dirt & grass off and re-stack the wood, mixing dirt in? It would be a hell of a chore, but if a significant improvement is possible then I'd consider it.....

I'm planning early peas (April, maybe even March if the weather is decent) to fix some nitrogen in the soil and I'd like to plant a couple jalapeno pepper plants on top to see how they do. I think that the extra heat/stress up top will benefit those plants. After the peas come out in late June or early July, I'd like to follow with something that we can eat..... maybe lettuce? Or should I go right to a cover crop in this first year?

I'd finish the season with either dakion radish or buckwheat, or possibly oats, all of which will winter kill.....

Thoughts?

Advise?

I would appreciate anything that anyone has to offer....

Thanks and I'll post up some pictures of my hugelbed shortly!

Tom
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Tom, welcome to permies!

I think that in the spring you may find that the dirt has settled over the winter and that you may have to add more on top of the pile. The hugel will settle over the next three or so years. At this point you might just go with it and let nature do her thing.

I like to throw all sorts of seeds on the pile in the first year to get a polyculture going. Including several different nitrogen fixers, even some "weeds".
 
Tom Breslawski
Posts: 2
Location: Hamlin, NY
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Howdy Tom, welcome to permies!

I think that in the spring you may find that the dirt has settled over the winter and that you may have to add more on top of the pile. The hugel will settle over the next three or so years. At this point you might just go with it and let nature do her thing.

I like to throw all sorts of seeds on the pile in the first year to get a polyculture going. Including several different nitrogen fixers, even some "weeds".


Thanks for the quick reply!

I will plan and be ready to add soil in the spring. I'm sure you're right about the settlement. Good point.

I have a few cover mixes that I use and have worked well. Essentially just scattering seeds, like you suggested. That sounds like a good plan to get some coverage and build some structure on that soil.
 
Neil G Jay
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I'm from Wales UK and have recently started creating some Hugelkultur beds on my allotment. It has not been used for last 3-4 years so was really overrun. It has a load of raspberries and blackberries on the site but have not been tended to for ages, so will be pulling them all up, creating Hugelkultur beds and replanting them onto the new beds. I'll post up some pics of what I've already done.
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I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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