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Hugelkultur for raised beds. Opinions?

 
Dustin Talley
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So I made some very raised beds for my urban home front yard. I made them so tall so that I could bury logs on bottom and plant over them much like hugelkultur uses wood to help with watering reduction etc. Here are some pics and I'd love your opinions. Thanks!
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Emilie Thomas-Anderson
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Location: Ben Lomond, CA
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Looks great! Over the last couple of years, I've been "retro-hugeling" the tall raised beds I built several years ago, and I've found that it really does help to significantly reduce water use. Last summer was my first with one of these hugeled raised beds, and beyond the initial watering to get seeds started and established, I did not have to water the bed once during the summer. (And in my area, we generally get zero rain from the beginning of June through at least mid-September, if not mid-October.)
 
Roy Hinkley
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Location: S. Ontario Canada
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I would be digging out the sod and whatever valuable topsoil is there before laying the wood down.
Short bits of wood I would stand on end. The water moving pathways in the wood will wick water better from bottom to top if they're standing on end and you'll have less voids to fill as the soil settles.
 
Emilie Thomas-Anderson
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Roy's response reminds me of another important point - if you're using more than a single layer of wood, be sure to add soil to fill in the gaps between chunks of wood before adding a second layer! This will reduce the amount of settling that will occur, as well as the potential for rodents to take up residence in the hugel.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho
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I've used this raised bed/hugel technique in my greenhouse...it works great! I like the idea of placing those short rounds on end rather than laying them on their side also. The water holding capacity of the beds in the greenhouse is awesome! The beds stay wetter than planting into the native soil and require less watering during the growing season, plus they warm up a LOT sooner in the spring to get a jump on growing! You won't be disappointed with your beds as far a moisture retention goes, you may run into problems with rodents though....just a heads up, something to plan for and mitigate!
 
Philip Hyndman
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you wont get rats in those. if they dig holes underneath youll know where they are and do battle with them. easily managed. Ive never had problems with mine.

One thing you might want to consider is putting smaller diameter wood on top of that so youll get breaking down goodness quicker. If you top that up with soil from there to the top that's a lot of soil and the roots wont get anywhere near the rotting wood. To get maximum benefit you need that rotting wood to be incorporated in the root zone. You only need about 5-8 inches of soil on top as most vegies have pretty shallow roots. Then time it so when the upper wood is rotting down quite well, dig it to incorporate it with the soil. Otherwise, you'll still get many benefits, but the wood will rot away and go downwards with gravity and your plants wont be able to get to it - all the goodies will leach out, eventually.

If you keep putting compost on, youll be surprised how little the beds will subside as wood rots, I noticed none at all on mine after 5 years, and not a sign of wood remains, but i used much thinner wood than you have used.
 
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