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Hugelkultur in very cold climate.

 
Juha Imberg
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Hello all. First timer here. From Finland so I apologize my bad english.

So first of all. I live in very cold climate. In fact my house is couple of kilometres (I dont understand your miles thing at all...) north from arctic circle. We are here basically six months below zero (in Celsius, which is 32 in Fahrenheit if Im not wrong...) and may end up with one meter of snow in winter. One meter, yes, have no clue aboiut yards or feet.

Last spring I began to experiment with Hugelkulturs. As you can imagine, it is a little bit hard to grow anything. My very first Hugelkultur bed was a little bit undersized. I dug a hole about one meter deep, couple of meters long and maybe a meter wide. Fill it up with wood and some good topsoil I have. Unfortunately I was a bit shy with the size and I didnt fill it up quite enough. Theres no birm at all so the top of the bed is equal to the ground. Second one grew a bit bigger in all the dimensions bit still a bit small. Two latest are, I think, deasant sized beds.

Here we dont have problem with dryness cause the summers tend to be pretty cool and rainy. Most of the Finland soil is pretty acidic, which is sometimes a bit problematic. I dont know if hugelbeds have any affect on acidity. Also were on top of huge clay bed with small amount of top soil above the clay. Ive build the beds against the rules so one face is facing directly to south and another one to north. Thats because I want to catch all the sun at least on the southern side.

I know its only one summer and most likely the decomposition hasnt even started but the beds, even the very first one, have been more producing than the surroundings. Potatoes, beans, spinach, rhubarb and raddish were the biggest successors on hugelbeds compared to plants on any other areas.

Now Im waiting very much for the next summer. Hopefully the decomposition starts and I get a little bit heat from inside the bed. That would, again hopefully, lengthen my season a bit. In this climate that would make a difference. Im just wondering if Im only one with this kind of climate? If theres others, Id be very interested in sharing opinions.

Sorry about murdering English.
 
chip sanft
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Dale Hodgins
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The wood waste increases acidity. Add lime.

You may find that building mounds in a semicircle facing south, will give you a better start in the spring. This provides south facing slope and wind blockage. Raised mounds will put you above permanently cold soil.
 
Juha Imberg
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Ive been planning to turn the latest one, which is biggest and most propably most functionable on something perennial. I have rhubarb and strawberries already here with bonus henricus. Also I have access to some raspberries. Im thinking about some kind of base with perennial edible plants adding maybe some annual cabbage and kales in the mix. Im hoping to end up something with perennial that comes up even without much care and something annual which I can be rotating. Im not sure with the whole guild idea so I dont know if these plants go well together but Im working on it. Also stinging nettles is something Id like to have on my garden. Been thinking about planting those plants I mentioned on the southern side to the sun and nettles and maybe beans on the northern side. I think nettles and beans will cope with a bit less sun.
 
Juha Imberg
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Ive been planning next summer here on almost record coldness... For sure Ill be planting raspberries on the hugelbed. Ive found that good companions are garlic, turnip, tansy and yarrow. Is there something else that would help my precious raspberries? How about currants close to raspberries? Black or red. Do they know how to play nicely together? And if they do, are there good companions for currants which also could help raspberries?
 
patrick canidae
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hvordan går det?

I have a friend from Denmark that travels around the artic circle. His folks have some deep raised beds. They used lots of birch wood, bark, roots etc and made their beds 1,5 to 2 meters high. They continually stuff in a legume as they build their beds. They have artic milkvetch http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/arctic-milkvetch where they are and use it quite a bit. They get wheel barrows of it and blend it in about 1/2 and 1/2 with soil as they fill in gaps between the limbs and brush. So, under the face of the final soil their beds are about 60% birch, 20% milkvetch and some kind of clover as well, and 20% soil. They water the hell out of it as they make each layer up. It obviously takes some real mass and a little nitrogen to get it going. They also make defacto cold frames on the south side by laying a log frame on the south side of their beds, a log at the bottom, one on the peak, and one on each end. They then spike some old scrap wood doors with big windows onto them in order to start driving heat into the pile when they finally see more than a couple of hours of sunlight.

If that vetch is local to you, it looks like it would be a nice companion crop to put nitrogen in the surface as well.
 
patrick canidae
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patrick canidae wrote:miten menee?
I have a friend from Denmark that travels around the artic circle. His folks have some deep raised beds. They used lots of birch wood, bark, roots etc and made their beds 1,5 to 2 meters high. They continually stuff in a legume as they build their beds. They have artic milkvetch http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/arctic-milkvetch where they are and use it quite a bit. They get wheel barrows of it and blend it in about 1/2 and 1/2 with soil as they fill in gaps between the limbs and brush. So, under the face of the final soil their beds are about 60% birch, 20% milkvetch and some kind of clover as well, and 20% soil. They water the hell out of it as they make each layer up. It obviously takes some real mass and a little nitrogen to get it going. They also make defacto cold frames on the south side by laying a log frame on the south side of their beds, a log at the bottom, one on the peak, and one on each end. They then spike some old scrap wood doors with big windows onto them in order to start driving heat into the pile when they finally see more than a couple of hours of sunlight.

If that vetch is local to you, it looks like it would be a nice companion crop to put nitrogen in the surface as well.
 
Juha Imberg
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patrick canidae wrote:hvordan går det?

I have a friend from Denmark that travels around the artic circle. His folks have some deep raised beds. They used lots of birch wood, bark, roots etc and made their beds 1,5 to 2 meters high. They continually stuff in a legume as they build their beds. They have artic milkvetch http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/arctic-milkvetch where they are and use it quite a bit. They get wheel barrows of it and blend it in about 1/2 and 1/2 with soil as they fill in gaps between the limbs and brush. So, under the face of the final soil their beds are about 60% birch, 20% milkvetch and some kind of clover as well, and 20% soil. They water the hell out of it as they make each layer up. It obviously takes some real mass and a little nitrogen to get it going. They also make defacto cold frames on the south side by laying a log frame on the south side of their beds, a log at the bottom, one on the peak, and one on each end. They then spike some old scrap wood doors with big windows onto them in order to start driving heat into the pile when they finally see more than a couple of hours of sunlight.

If that vetch is local to you, it looks like it would be a nice companion crop to put nitrogen in the surface as well.


Allt är bra, tack.

We have that plant here. It is more of a beach plant but idea is great. Ill be collecting seeds and going to try how it does on hugelbed.

That idea about cold frame is phenomenal. Very easy and very helpful. My favorite kind of solution.
 
Saam Maeki
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Hej Juha,

I have built a hugelbed in the area close to Pajala, Sweden, also well above the arctic circle. This will be its third year of existence and the second year we plant it. Made a "slight" mistake not facing it in south-north direction.
I'd say the size is roughly about 1.5 meter tall and 3-4 meters long.
Last year we planted it late in the year and it was quite a poor summer, cold and wet. Still it produced well, especially on the south facing side. Did not need any watering. Last autumn I covered it with fresh grass clippings and fallen leaves, as well as left the plants to decompose in place. Hopefully this will make it more rich in nutrients for this years planting. We also used "polyculture", a lot of different plants everywhere. Both vegetables and flowers. There was a clear decrease in pests. It seemed that the south facing sides plant tolerated the first frosts better but it was hard to gauge.
I would be very interested in hearing more about your results.
Only 6 months left till we can start again!
 
Juha Imberg
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Saam Maeki wrote:Hej Juha,

I have built a hugelbed in the area close to Pajala, Sweden, also well above the arctic circle. This will be its third year of existence and the second year we plant it. Made a "slight" mistake not facing it in south-north direction.
I'd say the size is roughly about 1.5 meter tall and 3-4 meters long.
Last year we planted it late in the year and it was quite a poor summer, cold and wet. Still it produced well, especially on the south facing side. Did not need any watering. Last autumn I covered it with fresh grass clippings and fallen leaves, as well as left the plants to decompose in place. Hopefully this will make it more rich in nutrients for this years planting. We also used "polyculture", a lot of different plants everywhere. Both vegetables and flowers. There was a clear decrease in pests. It seemed that the south facing sides plant tolerated the first frosts better but it was hard to gauge.
I would be very interested in hearing more about your results.
Only 6 months left till we can start again!


Hello!

Pajala is familiar area for me. Back in the day we used to come there in the swimming hall. Closest one from the area I grew up. Im originally from Kolari, which is just on the border. I live now in Rovaniemi so Im almost 200 km south from that area so basically I live nowadays in tropical area.

Last summer was bad here also. Wet and cool. Then on August one and a half week of warmth, which in fact made my garden blossom. I noticed same thing with my plantings, the southern facing hill is just way better. My beds are fresh, last summer was the first one but still it was easy to say that Hugelbeds were better than area surrounding those. I made a small research in the plot by growing same plants on Hugelbeds and on flat ground. Rhubarb and peas did way better on Hugelbeds compared to traditional garden. Dill didnt succeed on Hugel, but it still made better there cause I didnt get anything from traditional beds...

Id be very happy to hear which plants you grew in Hugelbeds. My "collection" for last summer was roughly: Potatoes, nässla (dont know english word for this one... That stinging thing rich on minerals), kale, spinach (did very well, was growing more than I could eat fresh), raddish (also did very well), tomatoes (didnt got any fruit because of cold and wet summer), chard, beets (very poor succession, just a couple of very small bulps), parsley, marigold (planted seeds too late, got a couple of flowers on August), broad bean (HUGE success, I gave them away for others too), parsnip (also too late, didnt got any edible root) and some flowers my wife planted.

I didnt water by beds either besides when I was building them. Of course last summer was so wet that nobody needed water anything anywhere around here. I was also mulching beds with grass clippngs because we have pretty big lawn still. In fact Id like to get rid of most of that lawn, it came with former owner. We bought the house just a couple of years ago.

Next summer Im planning to create one big Hugelbed on the border of our plot. Ill try to make it on contour and it will be around 20 meters long. Im lucky that the spot is most sunny place on my plot and on a slight hill. I think it will collect a deasant amount of water when built on contour. Also Im planning to move my currants on Hugelbeds and hopefully plant a couple of apple trees. In our climate there are not many edible tress that will survive winter. Im going to have also raspberry on that new bed. Ill keep growing broad beans to keep them adding nitrogen to the soil. Im also going to try to grow comfrey altough its very uncertain to grow here. But Ill try.

Please let me know how you are doing there. Would be nice to hear someones experiences so close to my home area.
 
Saam Maeki
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The world is a small place.
Good to hear that the hugels are paying off. Have you any other raised beds? I made some that we are going to start this year. Wooden frames filled with some logs and soil and then covered with grass clippings. They are about half a meter high. Will see how they preform in comparison to the hugel.
Did the hugels extend your season at all? Could your plants tolerate the frost any better?

I can't remember exactly all that was planted but squash, broccoli, peas, carrots, onions, beets, pumpkin, spinach, sunflowers, poppies, comfrey, different kinds of annual and perennial flowers whose names I do not know. I was not responsible for much of the planting. It was done by my mother. I do not live up there, I only return for the summers. Currently I am studying abroad but this is my last year and then I will return to Sweden, but I do not think I will move to Pajala.
I just got into gardening the last three years and my knowledge is almost purely theoretical. I have been reading mostly about different techniques to improve yields and decrease work. I do not know so much about plants, and what I can grow up there. Even though people have been gardening in the area for a long time their knowledge about what actually can grow is very limited. Anything you can tell me about plants you growwould be very appreciated.
This year I will be adding clover, kale, and hopefully asparagus. Probably potatoes too, I was first apprehensive to plant some due to them disturbing the soil but a little bit of disturbance is probably just good. More too if you have any good suggestions!
Your swale/hugel project sounds great. 20 meters will be a lot to plant. In some distant future I also hope to create some swales and maybe some ponds. This year I intend to make another hugel too, one that is facing south-north like yours. Water is not so much the problem but sunlight, the brief summer, and the cold are rather our problems.
As for now I have little info to share but I hope that this growing season will be more fruitful. It is quite the challenge to garden in our areas.
I will try and attach a picture of the hugel from the beginning of last summer. In the foreground is the raised beds I mentioned.
hugel.jpg
[Thumbnail for hugel.jpg]
 
Byron Gagne
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Great to hear of another person growing in the cold. We started a bed here in the Yukon Canada and we've had nothing but great results !
 
Juha Imberg
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Spring is here! Or at least in my heart anyways.

Just started first seeds inside for the spring. We still have almost a meter of snow but those slowly germinating seeds I have to start early to get them going for their first summer. I planted different varietes of strawberries and comfrey from seed. Should I take comfrey pot in cold after putting seeds on potting mix? Im not sure how to do it properly. I have good place inside my storage, where the temperature stays around zero celsius. Also, if comfrey decides to grow, where you guys would place it in hugelbeds? Low, high or somewhere between?
 
Juha Imberg
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Woohoo! My very first strawberry seedling was born today. It is the tiniest little thing and almost invisible but its green! Hopefully she will get company pretty soon. I planted almost 500 seeds so It would be pretty bad success rate if she remains the only one. Four different species of strawberries. Thinking about earth cover... Also comfrey and Good King Henry are already on the pots. Im living interesting times.
 
Juha Imberg
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Now, two days later, strawberry seedling count is four. t the same time its snowing all the time more. Were getting soon officially one meter snow depth. Still one winter month to go before spring comes. Hopefully... Also I put half a pack black salsify seeds in to see if those seeds are already too old to germinate and looks like I have to buy new ones for next summer. No germination whatsoever. Package was a bit old already.
 
Juha Imberg
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Strawberries doing pretty fine. Theres three different kind of seeds going on and Im pretty happy how everything has been germinated. Got couple of growing lamps to help them cause we have no sun yet enough to courage the seedlings grow well.

But... Anyone been growing comfrey and Good King Henry from seed? Do they need stratification to germinate? Comfrrey seeds have been in moist dirt now for three weeks without any germination. Ive put now all the pots in chill carage where the temperature is about 0-5 Celsius all the time. Same thing with Good King Henry. Ive found pretty controversial info about both plants. Here it says theyll do well without stratification but there is info that those need cold period. Anyone have exact knowledge about this? Or is it just that seeds are poorly germinating species?
 
Jaime Cameron
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Byron Gagne wrote:Great to hear of another person growing in the cold. We started a bed here in the Yukon Canada and we've had nothing but great results !


Hey Byron.
Good to hear that you have tried this in the Yukon.
I have wanted to let my mom know about this technique as I no longer live up there.
Are you still on the river road?
 
Juha Imberg
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Our nice summer here...

Spring has been very nice and warm here around the Polar Circle. Weve passed our regular last frost date already and hugels are doing mostly fine. Raddish, kale, vcarrots, parsnips etc. have come up already. Last night we had snow. Yes, snow. Temperature was barely above freezing whole time but I woke up this morning with almost 10 centimetres of snow. This is now a great chance to observe if the raised hugelkulturs cope better with this kind of weather compared to traditional benches. If there is anything still living after this, Im happy.

Not to mention almost 30 new berry bushes I just had put on the ground around week ago. Older bushes Im not worried about, theyre not dead altough its possible Im not harvesting this autumn. But the newer ones...
 
Saam Maeki
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How did it go Juha, did the bushes survive the cold? And how did the hugels fare against the other raised beds?

Here in Juhonpieti we are almost done with our planting. Raised beds and the hugel have been planted. Also some bushes and a apple tree have been added.
Bed 1: mainly strawberries, also broccoli and some flowers.
Bed 2: Has a home made hoop-house on it. Peppers, melon, bush-tomatoes, a strawberry plant,
Bed 3: Broccoli, cucumbers, squash, ornamental pumpkins and bush-tomato.
Carrots, salads, kale, beets, radishes, peas, garlic, kohlrabi, napa cabbage, turnips, and various flowers have also been planted in the beds. The same goes for the hugel, it has everything on it. Hoping the polyculture will reduce pests. Experimenting quite a bit, a lot of the things we planted are not very like to grow well, and even less likely to produce fruit. E.g. the melon. But it is fun to try stuff out.
As for the bushes, went for edibles like aronia, sea-berries, currants and gooseberries. Got some silverberry too, not sure if it is edible but it looks nice and is supposed to be a N-fixer, and very hardy. Also got some grapes and some hardy kiwis, will be surprised if they live through the winter but it would be really cool if they did. Could create the northernmost vineyard in the world!
Except for a storm that hit us a few days ago this spring has been extremely warm, I only hope it stays that way. Unlike last summer when we had no summer.
 
Juha Imberg
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As far as I can tell, everything survived. Bush blueberries Im not yet sure yet, but at least they kept their leaves.

I dont have any other kind of raised beds besides hugels. I have a couple of spots in the yard with regular non-raised beds which Im using as comparisons for hugels.

My planting is now done. Everything is outside. I may buy one apple tree later on the summer but that is not sure yet.

Old bed nr. 1 includes: Kale (the most importatnt thing), kohlrabi, swede, turnip, radish, marigold, garden cress, variety of different onions, broad bean and diffrent peas.

Old bed nr. 2: Strawberry (lot of...), onions, marigold, borage, and white clover. Altough Ive learned that it was propably a big mistake to add clover to the mix there.

Old bed nr. 3: Mostly the same as nr. 1, but also added potatoes and sunchokes there with rhubarb.

New bed nr. 1: Carrots, black salsify, parsnip and nettles.

I have the same idea. Polyculture is the way to go. Couple of comfrey plants have also coming up from the seed, which Im pretty happy about.
 
Juha Imberg
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My parents-in- laws told that there was pretty harsh winds week ago at least in Kolari. Did you have the same storm in your location?
 
Juha Imberg
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Sorry, I didnt read your post clearly enough... Already answered my question,
 
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