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i'm making paul do a hugelkultur podcast - what questions should I ask him?

 
Cassie Langstraat
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so i realized paul has never done an entire podcast based on hugelkultur. of course it has been touched upon in many podcasts, but never a whole podcast dedicated to it.

so i'm making paul do one. muahaha.

so.. what questions do you want me to ask him on the podcast?!

i know ya got 'em.. so lemme hear 'em and i'll choose the good ones to ask him!
 
Keahi Maumauma
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Aloha hugelkultur peeps!

I wanna hear about what species of tree is best used in the swales and why as well as when would be the best time of the year/best conditions to make a hugelkultur swale. Perhaps a little bit on what sucessive plantings, maybe intercropping works best in the system as far as what Paul has come across in his site visits. All that good stuff.

Mahalo e na hoa [with adoration friends],
Keahi.
 
J Bartlett
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How 'bout the effects of using hugel beds to direct water on hilly land. Should I only use them perpendicular to the slope to maximize soakage and slow water? Or would they be a good choice to install to direct water toward swales, dams, etc., in land of clay and rock?
 
Michael Barratt
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I would like to know more about possible issues with termites, carpenter ants and (unwanted) fungus, mold and anything else resulting from being in the Deep South (Florida) where it never freezes.
 
Justin Gonzales
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I would like to hear him talk about making a hugelculture bed without wood. When he was in Seattle for the permies meetup, He talked about digging down a foot on each side and piling it up to make a 3 foot hugel.
 
Dean Howard
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Dean Howard asks: When to Hugel and when to Swale... limitations and advantages of each depending on what you are trying to accomplish
 
Dean Howard
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Define me one thing... Is HugelKultur just a big swale, or are you trying to accomplish something different?
 
Zach Muller
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Ask him if the inside of a hugel is a good place to bury someones body, and if he thinks that would make up for some of the nitrogen losses with the wood. Its kind of morbid, but its kind of like we plant a tree when someones born, or plant a tree on top of a buried pet. If i die and there is no handy way to burn my body, i may request being placed in a hugel.
 
David Hogan
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Well lets see....



The defining the definitive definition. What exactly is and is not hugelkultur?

Age of wood. Does age matter and why?

Species of wood. What makes one species better or worse than another?

"I heard wood drains all the nitrogen out of the soil" True or false and WHY?

Lifespan. Does a hugel ever stop being a hugel?

Buh bye. When the wood core is all gone, what benefits still remain?

"It seemed like a good idea at the time". Dont ever do this, no matter what. Placement, design and other factors of potential disaster.

The hugelswale. What is this mythical multi-function beast and why does it get brought up so often?

Climate. Are there climates where hugels are bomb diggity or a bomb?

Which way. Does direction, positioning or shape matter, and why?

Washed out. If your hugel isn't on contour, how do you keep the edges from eroding away due to runoff?

wheaton labs. Do you have hugels, what are your future plans for hugels?

So sad. Have you ever removed or regretted a hugel installation and why?

So happy. Best example of hugel victory!

Why oh why. Pet peeves about hugels and the people that misuse them.



I think thats a good start
 
Cassie Langstraat
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great questions people! thank you.

one note: please at least read paul's hugelkultur article before posting questions.

i am sure he will give a little bit of a general explanation, but i am thinking we might assume people have at least read his article before listening to the podcast aka, this will be an expansion of the article..

i think.. but he will probably cover some of the same stuff he covers in the article too but i don't want it to be TOO much of a repeat.

cheers!
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Is there an optimum size for a hugelkultur? Could one be too big? Or too small?
 
Timothy Ettridge
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If you live in an area where the soil is 100% sand (as I do in central Florida), do you accept that as your base or do you buy topsoil from a gardening vendor and have them dump a truckload on a tarp for you to distribute as you build the mound?
 
Keahi Maumauma
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@Timothy - if i was you, i would love to have sand as my base as mine is compacted, leeched volcanic ash lol
 
Tyler Ludens
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Are there any examples of successful hugelkultur in a hot desert, say, North Africa, American Southwest, Chihuahuan desert?

 
Enrique Garcia
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What does he think of sunken bed Hugelkultur in the desert ? With Ollas too. (Clay pots without glaze that you bury in garden & keep filled with water so plants can drink at their leisure).
 
Mike Holmes
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What are some options for making beds steeper and having a thicker layer of soil over the wood without adding too much width?..

If I use freshly cut wood, how long would it take to get the characteristic sponge effect of a proper Hugelkultur bed?..

What types of plants are good for controlling erosion in a newly built bed?..

Is there such a thing as too much wood in a Hugel bed?..

Is it necessary, or does it help to make sure there are no air pockets in the soil?..

Does the position of the wood make any differences in how well the bed will do?..
 
Mj Raichyk
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Has anyone successfully figured out how to use a hugel to berm the crawlspace and bottom of the house without inviting termites
up the wood walls

To live in the woods, you clear trees and build the house, so keeping the cut-trees til you're done would bring the cut-trees back as
the berm to shelter the area again.....
 
Peter Bourgelais
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When putting together the plant guild for my berm, I'd like to choose plants that benefit from the same mycorrhizal companions. Is there a good resource for this other than Edible Forest Gardens by Jacke and Toensmeier?
 
Kai Duby
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Here are some questions I've been meaning to ask Paul in person or pondering while seeding and mulching here at the lab:

How do you make 12 to 15 foot hugel-berms people friendly without making them look more like terraces? OR What would be a good way to create paths on steep slopes without creating landslides and cliffs?

How would you increase micro climate effects (even more!) in a hugel-system?

How is mulching a gigantic hugel different than mulching a small raised garden bed?
 
Jason Vath
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I feel fairly confident on the answer to this question but, would like to hear Paul's opinion as I feel it's an important issue which I've never heard mentioned.

When piling up the wood core, should one try to neatly place the logs, branches etc. closely together to eliminate as much air space in between as possible?

To me it makes sense as it would make for a more robust hugelkultur.
First, I believe it'd take less soil to cover due to less cracks for soil to sink down into.
Second, wouldn't it also maximize it's water retaining ability?

I speculate this because, if the wood was tight together, it'd act as a single huge core of spongy wood - a higher ratio of volume-to-surface area.
If there were lots of space in between the logs/branches, each piece would rot too quick and/or dry out faster.
Think of how Ice behaves as it melts - one big chunk lasts longer but, if that chunk were broken into smaller pieces, the ice would melt much faster due to exposing more surface area.
 
Susan Lafferty
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When building an in ground hugelkultur....Are drainage rocks at the bottom necessary or is it fine without them?
 
James Fry
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Some say it makes no sense in dry climates. I have friends who are trying it in arid places but it's too early to see results. So, does it make sense in dry climates or should we leave it to Sepp in those wet Alps?
 
Linda Listing
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I would like to hear about the hugelkultur set up as a check terrace for really hilly land. I've only ever seen this example - http://www.tenthacrefarm.com/2014/10/heres-a-quick-way-to-terrace-a-hill/

Anybody else ever tried this? What is the best way to direct the water down the hill? I'm also getting too many large air pockets under branches in my pile with soil subsidence. How do I avoid those collapsed sections?

Thanks,
Linda Listing
 
Richard Gorny
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My hugel is 4-5 feet tall, with steep sides as it is recommended. It is now 2 years old and it seems it is not accumulating water as it suppose to. It is quite dry inside. We have 500 mm of rain/snow per year on the average, zone 6. The wood inside is mostly maple and birch, if that helps. There might be more wood than it suppose to be, as I'm on a sandy hill and have no good top soil. Additionally it is covered with a thin layer of woodchips to prevent erosion and to capture all rain that falls on it. Any way to make it work with no watering?
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Several precise questions....
1) More about the history of the technique, to understand its necesity and its real best use.
It is a lot of work, so I guess it must have been worth it, for example in a place with a lot of winter rain and little summer rain.... + a lack of irrigation system "in those times". If I guess right, then sure everything is worth the job for getting a harvest. Is it so much worth now?
Appart from a water reserve, is the other original criteria the big avaibility of wood?

My aim is to help focus on the real best reasons for this time investment.
What are the best conditions
and the worse.

2) So... In what case it is not the best idea?
For example if the wood is not available on the property itself, or in a certain type of weather....
 
Xisca Nicolas
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My 2 hugels are worth 2 days work, for about 6-7 meters each.
I have not noticed that I did not need to water...
Of course, it did not rain after I did them!
Now, it has rained, but I do not see any difference in weed growing with the garden around. And the top soil is the same, dry appart from irrigation.

I also had a soil problem for building, as I did not have extra soil than the one extracted.
So the question is:
How much soil do you need to extract in the original horizontal ground, so that you can cover the extra surface as a result of the form of the hugel?

Also, I am not so sure that the 1st sentence of the presentation in richsoil is the best, eg to say no irrigation and no fertilisation.
Or else, you have to say what are the right conditions to get this effect!
I have read that some people say that when soaked, it is true that there is no need for extra irrigation, but that it need to be fertilised the same as any culture.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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What about the steep?
I had to rebuild what went down, after 6 months.
So, what is the best form, and the gbest way to hold the soil, eg with the choice of plants to grow?

Again, back to the origines: what was is meant for growing? Veggies only? What varieties? Planted ones? Or also sowing?
 
Larry Bruce
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Droughts and floods:

I am concerned about hugelkultur mounds (not swales) in years with very high rainfall.
Midwest gardener, and we've been alternating drought years with flood years.
I understand the value in times of drought. What are the hk mounds advantages and disadvantages in heavy rains?
Larry
 
Daniel Taylor
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I'm interested in knowing whether a hugel bed actually traps the carbon in the trees as it is below ground and by what kind of percentage. I have a plot that I am interested in that is covered in trees. I would like to cut it down and have hugel beds with pastures in-between. I am a bit loathe to cut the trees down though as they are currently sequestering carbon. I want to do the right thing from an environmental perspective. The forest is probably between 15-20 years old and is based in central France. I have also read differing opinions on whether pastures (mob grazed included) or forest sequester more carbon. Any info would be much appreciated.
 
William James
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The questions I have with Hugelkulture are these:

-Heavy clay in summer.
-Top dressing, amount and type of mulch, cover cropping.
-Angle of mound sides
-The difference between hugel mounds and simply burying wood in flat land.
-If, when, and how swales and hugleculture can be integrated.

Thanks,
William
 
Erwin Decoene
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How do you avoid unwanted fungi spreading to nearby fruit trees ?

I doubt very much wether you make a net gain sequestering carbon cutting down trees to put the wood in the soil. What kind of figures are available to support this one way or another.

If the aim is to increase soil carbon, water retention and fertility without using fabricated stuffs you should use any locally available biowaste to minimize transport. In regions without lots of trees it does not make sense to use trees. In the Flanders region of Belgium, we simply do not have the trees to do permaculture this way. What do you recommend for densely populated areas ?

Oeps, forgot the one that got me interested in Hugelbeds. What evidence is there that Hugelbeds or similar permaculture methods mitigate/remediate soil pollution ? Some fungi are capable of breaking down PAH. So is there any evidence that you are aware of that Hugelbeds is a plus on that score ?
Other kinds of pollution such as heavy metals may be mitigated by increasing soil humus levels (because the heavy metals are less bioavailable or bioaccessable)
 
John Saltveit
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When is it worth it to put small hugels in suburban lots? I know Paul is the rural acreage guy, but most Americans live in suburbs. How can we make it work?
Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
Sue Rine
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Can you comment on examples of hugelkutur beds that are 10+ years old? How are they performing? What are they planted with? What, if any, is the ongoing maintenance requirement?
 
Susan Wakeman
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Can he comment on pests in the hügel? Such as mice, pillbugs...
 
Kevin Morland
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My brother in law created his first Hugelkulture in Northern Wisconsin and it was immediately infested with voles. Is there an obvious mistake people make to cause such a thing? Is there a trick to keep them out of it?

Thanks!
Kevmo
 
Gregory T. Russian
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Richard Gorny wrote:My hugel is 4-5 feet tall, with steep sides as it is recommended. It is now 2 years old and it seems it is not accumulating water as it suppose to. It is quite dry inside. We have 500 mm of rain/snow per year on the average, zone 6. The wood inside is mostly maple and birch, if that helps. There might be more wood than it suppose to be, as I'm on a sandy hill and have no good top soil. Additionally it is covered with a thin layer of woodchips to prevent erosion and to capture all rain that falls on it. Any way to make it work with no watering?


I think this entire idea of hugelkultur of NEVER needing watering is a mis-direction.
I am unsure why it was ever presented as such.

Basically, a hill with steep slopes will ALWAYS shed water away.
This is why we grade the soil AWAY from our basements, don't we? To keep them basements dry.


What was NEVER made clear is that there must be a source of moisture that feeds into the mound.
If there is none, the mound WILL dry out and will stay dry.
 
John Hazen
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I have about 40 lineal feet of 2'-3' diameter logs on my new property, and my first thought was "giant hugel!" But, if I were to use them for hugelkultur, would I want to cut them into 2' lengths and stand them upright for better wicking, or is just laying them flat fine?
 
Gregory T. Russian
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PS: i did install a small hugel-like bed into my vegetable garden, a very shallow one; I have to say, i do need to water it;

PPS: so, i did not see the original article specifying the exact conditions of when the hugel mound will work as promised;

My question: i would want to see such specifications before spending more time/effort again.
 
Gregory T. Russian
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Kevin Morland wrote:My brother in law created his first Hugelkulture in Northern Wisconsin and it was immediately infested with voles. Is there an obvious mistake people make to cause such a thing? Is there a trick to keep them out of it?

Thanks!
Kevmo


The hugel is, pretty much, an ideal habitat for rodents; like it or not.
It is what it is.

I got them too in my hugel bed (even though my hugel is inside the fine wire mesh fenced garden).
They still found it.
I just trapped them best I could.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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