• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Troubleshooting hugelkultur

 
Gregory T. Russian
Posts: 34
Location: Mad City, Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I feel there should be a thread about hugelkultur troubles and fixing them, if possible.
There are clearly issues as not all hugels are working as should due to poor design or site selection or local climate conditions not really ideal or whatever is the case.

For example (re-pasting from a different thread):
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 the 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.

I myself 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;

Another re-post:
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?


The hugel is, pretty much, an ideal habitat for rodents; like it or not. It is what it is.
It is especially true IF the hugel is dry (see the issue listed above).
So, basically, we have a dry, warm and safe place to inhabit. This is exactly what rodents are looking for.
So, again, voles in the hugel mean - the hugel mound is too dry.

I got the voles 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.



 
Roberto pokachinni
Posts: 677
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
50
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Gregory, what do you use to trap your voles? What for bait. I have TONS of voles at my place. My resident weasel and fox can't keep up, and the pack of coyotes can't keep up, the owls and hawks can't keep up! and I haven't even tried. I'm mostly not home as I've been very busy working to pay may land off. I'm thinking of fencing in chickens in the future just to help get rid of the rodents! I don't even have the huguls built. this is just in my regular raised beds and in my feral meadow. I think that your post is a good idea. I have an expanding colony of gophers on my land as well. There needs to be a troubleshooting of these problems (solutions), and those folks with lots of experience should be helping to troubleshoot to fix them. But, in the meantime, how do you trap your voles? Thanks in advance. ~Rob~
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8852
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think in dry climates buried wood beds work better than hugelkultur. My entire vegetable garden is buried wood, and finally, after years of failing with a normal garden, I can grow food year-round.
 
Gregory T. Russian
Posts: 34
Location: Mad City, Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Roberto pokachinni wrote:Hi Gregory, what do you use to trap your voles? What for bait. ...............Thanks in advance. ~Rob~

1)identify places where the voles go to/from (for me it is my carrot patch the voles get into; or right next to the vole hole in my hugel bed)
2)setup cheap mouse traps at those places
3)use peanut butter

PS: 2-3 times small birds got caught by my traps going after the ants in the peanut butter it is good to cover or hide traps from above from the birds
 
Gregory T. Russian
Posts: 34
Location: Mad City, Wisconsin
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:I think in dry climates buried wood beds work better than hugelkultur. My entire vegetable garden is buried wood, and finally, after years of failing with a normal garden, I can grow food year-round.


Even in moderately humid places the wood buried below the ground level would work better, I feel.
If the ground profile is such that the water drains away from the hugelkultur, forget about this "no-watering" approach. Eventually, the mound will go dry and worse.
So, the ground profile and the water movements around/under the hugelkultur are the key to success.

I would suggest the hugelkultur is best for the wet places/humid climate where you'd want to raise the plants ABOVE the excessive moisture anyway.
There the wood will, actually, work like a wick and water buffer, just as intended...
 
Ray Ko
Posts: 15
Location: Central Virginia zone7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think too many folks see something on the Internet and abandon all common sense. I first learned of HK by seeing a diagram of a near-vertical pile of logs with some soil on top with the claim that I could grow a traditional garden with no fertilization or irrigation and it would even work in the desert.

I was skeptical, but figured what the heck. Over time, this HK was far less productive than adjacent garden beds. Some will say I did it all wrong or I need to buy a lecture or DVD series to learn the correct way. When I ultimately disassembled it, I found a bone dry core of slightly punkier wood than I had put in there. I get 30-40 inches of rain, so it's a far cry from a desert out here.

Applying some of the common sense the Good Lord gave me, over the years I used quite a bit of wood in ways that actually worked: buried below garden beds-no hugel . Cut into sections and used as mulch around trees. Constructing short, flat topped raised rows with maybe 25% cut woody material and the rest kinda a sheetmulched way of hiding stuff to decompose in due time. Then again, I am sure if I buried bricks and plastic jugs at the same depth or built a raised row with the same soil-to-brick and plastic jug ratio it'd produce just fine. That might be my next experiment...



 
Paul Lewis
Posts: 1
Location: UK, Northwest
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, longtime onlooker here but I can agree with what has been said but having built my own small hugelkultur mounds I though the idea was for some of the hugel to be below ground level and so for the wood to act as a wick and absorb the moisture and move it up into the mound. Being in quite a wet climate I've never had much of a problem with moisture and my hugels are mainly for increased fertility but that is what I'd always though.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic