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Build hugel bed on concrete

 
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What do you think people?  Would this work or just pure nonsense?

I'm in tropical climate in yucatan, Mexico.  Land was previously a cantina.  There is a lot of vegetation and fruit trees surrounding a large area of poured concrete that was once the dance floor.  I'd like to put raised beds here.
 
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hey lenore,

welcome to the forums.

normal raised beds work on concrete, so i think, hügelkultur should work. could you start with one as a trial?

good luck and best wishes
tobias
 
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Welcome!

Be sure to consider the taproots of the plants you plan to plant there.  Like ... corn has a deep taproot so your soil needs to be deep.  If you make the tall "triangle" shaped hugel beds, then corn would be on the top.

My DH [dear hubby] used some 4" deep containers for squash and watermelon which didn't do as well as usual so we thought that the soil was too shallow.  Lettuce would have been better there.

This is just given as an example as to why the taproots need to be considered.


 
Tobias Ber
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hey lenore,

in this thread Inge is building one hügelbed on top of her pavement:

https://permies.com/t/48736/Permaculture-small-Dutch-town
 
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I've done that ... right on concrete.  We were in a rented place and could not garden ... so, I put some agricultural cloth down, built wooden raised beds right on the concrete.  When we moved, we just took the beds down and cleaned the concrete.  

Where are you in the yucatan.  We're 40 kms' out from Merida of the Cancun highway.  
 
Lenore Ogbor
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Thanks for the welcome and the responses.  I've started my hugelkulture bed using reclaimed wood and brush on the land. There are a lot of branches, palm fronds, almond tree leaves, dried straw like grass and plant cuttings.  Not much green to add.  Do have composting fruit falling from trees.

To amarynth leroux: I'm in F Carrillo Puerto on the highway from tulum to chetumal.
 
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assuming you don't want to preserve the flat concrete, why not take a long masonry drill and drill some holes in it, plant roots go thru concrete anyway eventually but with drilled holes they will get a rapid head start and the roots will then further break the concrete up. The holes don't have to be large diameter, even a cheapish drill and bit will only take a minute to drill a hole a yard deep. Let the bit cool and rest between holes if you are doing a lot, or even better cool the hole with water.
 
amarynth leroux
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Lenore Ogbor wrote: I'm in F Carrillo Puerto on the highway from tulum to chetumal.



Oh yeah ... we came through there just Friday last week.  Spent a few days in Chetumal.  We have another permie friend just this side of Vallodolid on the Cancun / Merida road.  

Soon there will be enough of us to have a get together.  
 
Lenore Ogbor
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Just thinned out a bunch of bamboo.  Thoughts about adding that to hugelkulture.
 
Lenore Ogbor
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amarynth leroux wrote:

Lenore Ogbor wrote: I'm in F Carrillo Puerto on the highway from tulum to chetumal.



Oh yeah ... we came through there just Friday last week.  Spent a few days in Chetumal.  We have another permie friend just this side of Vallodolid on the Cancun / Merida road.  

Soon there will be enough of us to have a get together.  



Yes a get together would be cool.
 
Lenore Ogbor
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I did build that raised hugel bed last year With a 3-4 inch layer of tierra negra ( black soil) from a nearby lagoon on top.  I planted some greens and herbs which sprouted right up (I brought seeds from states).  I also transplanted some cherry tomato seedlings.  I threw in some garlic, ginger and tumeric that sprouted in my kitchen.  From my compost, even tho I screened it, I got a bunch of volunteer squash (one turned out to be cantaloupe).  They were growing so rapidly I just watched and they took over eventually shading out all my little seedlings.   A neighbor friend gave me chives and lemongrass which went in there too.
Then I went away for 5 months and my neighbor kept an eye on my property.  He harvested tomatoes and lots of local calabaza ( the volunteer squash).
When I returned, he had cleared all the vines from squash and moved them to another location - which is becoming a spontaneous hugel that needs some organizing.  All that remained in my bed was the native lemongrass and chives, and a turmeric plant.  
The height of my mound was reduced by more than half, but when I dug in it was beautiful humus.  Just gorgeous.  In my enthusiasm, I dug a lot of that humus out, I left the partially decomposed wood on bottom.  Used some of this black gold to feed trees on the property.  Then I layered more leaves, branches and other
browns, but no large wood.  On top I returned the humus and more soil from the lagoon.  I did not put the compost to avoid the squash explosion - which is happening every where else I put compost.
Okay (turning into a long story) -  I've planted in this revised hugel and no seeds have sprouted.  I'm getting various sprouts - some weeds, trees, unidentified things.  The chives and lemongrass returned to the pile are doing fine.
The season is different - last year I planted in October, this year in January.  It's been a cool January for Quintana Roo, but temperatures similar to spring on east coast when you'd begin planting.
So I'm wondering if I shouldn't have messed with the hugel by re-layering the humus to the top.  What is the best way to deal with the volume reduction (remember this pile is built on concrete slab - From original posts).  Did I not put enough material in there to begin with?  Would appreciate your thoughts.
I'll try to figure out how to add photos.
 
Lenore Ogbor
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Correction: I built the hugel in October 2016, added more layers and planted all that stuff in April 2017, went away end of June for 5 months, back at it in January 2018.
 
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It sounds like you did not rebuild the hugel with the same layers as you did the year before. Is that correct?
Most likely it was the compost layer that brought in the nutrients and microorganisms the plants needed to grow so well.
Not to worry, simply start thinking mulch with compost. (if you don't want the seeds that are in the compost growing, you can heat the compost and then re wet it some and use it from that point.

Redhawk
 
Lenore Ogbor
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Would I just heat compost in the sun?

yes the compost and large stumps of wood were not added this time. Although some of the original wood is still in there.

In the future, is it better to just layer on top of existing pile without moving humus to the top?

And what to do about perennials when the pile has shrunk?  I removed the lemongrass, tumeric and chive and put them on top after rebuilding.  Or do you go with a more shallow bed?

Can you tell I'm a newbie???
 
Bryant RedHawk
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If you let compost be in full sun, you will need to check it for moisture fairly often, composting works best when the heap can remain damp in the interior (not soggy but it should feel like a wrung out wet dish towel in the hands)

The only time I rebuild a hugel is when I need to add more large wood, otherwise I just add layers over what is already there, I rarely add anything larger than a pencil sized stick to these new layers.

The best place for perennials is at the bottom foot of the hugel

We were all newbies at the beginning of our journey Lenore, asking questions is how we learn the best methods faster.

Redhawk
 
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