Tj Jefferson wrote:The very first thing I planted on my hugels was nitrogen fixation. I used blue lupine and threw some vetch I found as well, and I'm in a similar climate. My suspicion is that the decomposition is real quick and can make it hard to get enough N to allow much on top. So far so good, everything is looking sexy. Other contributor might be poor micorrhyzal culture. I haven't used a commercial one yet, but I plan to this spring since I haven't got anything to compost/make tea from. Have you done anything similar? Seems like a lot of brown and little green...
John Elliott wrote:
Last year I also had good success with squash and gourds growing on top of decaying wood piles. I wouldn't exactly call them hugels, as all I did was dump a few inches of dirt in spots with some seeds in it. I think we have to read the claims of hugelkultur differently in Georgia. "You won't have to water it for 5 years, natural rainfall will be stored by the rotting wood" --yea, right. First of all, after 5 years, there's very little left undecomposed, and number 2, the Georgia summer sun is HOT! Much more intense than the puny rays of sun that manage to obliquely hit places like Montana or Switzerland.
Tracy Wandling wrote:How big are your hugel beds? I think that one of the things that might lead to hugelkultur 'failures' is making the beds too small, especially in a hot climate. A small bed is going to dry out much faster than a big one, and a small bed will hold much less water than a big one, so it won't be able to make it through the dry season without irrigation.
Stephen Layne wrote:I have had small hugelbeds be sucessful in NE Ga. However, whenever the plants looked nitrogen deficient I watered them with 10:1 urine which made a huge difference. My hugels were mostly constructed with rotten logs and bark so even with logs there will be a huge nitrogen demand due to the quick rate of decay in this climate. I dug down about 1' to get through the almost inpermeable sandy clay layer to reach the clayey sand layer so there would be drainage after a rainy spell, but the hugle would still catch water. I used the excavated clay to make 6" walls along the slopes of the hugle where I could place a pocket of well composted tree chips to give transplants a pocket of rich soil to get started in.
My hugels weren't any larger than the ones pictured, but I did water them sparingly during the long drought.
I think dilute urine and some provision to water during extreme dry spells would fix your problems with the hugels, you have already done the hard part, it would be a shame to give up now.
Tj Jefferson wrote:One more thing maybe people could consider- I have used cedar boughs as mulch (maybe you can see them on the downhill side to reduce evaporative loss. I am considering planting apples and have been converting cedars predominant to holly as winter bird cover. So I have a ton of cedars to deal with. Plus cedars just denude everything near them. So I am using the cedars branches as mulch, they should be long-lasting and they don't seem to be allelopathic with the existing plants. But they are on the downhill side anyhow and whatever is growing there has been dealing with cedars for some time. It's a bit of a fire hazard but they have to go somewhere. The trunks I traded for stuff.
Cris, that is after removing a couple hundred sweetgums, it was a thicket in there. Now the native bluestem and orchardgrass are coming up! That is the future planting area. I have one more earthwork to go in (another water storage/transfer hugel system) and then I can get my goodies in there. I am planting a living fence back there which has to be doing it's thing before I put deer fodder in there. And I'm throwing deer bones back there, so I haven't see more than one this fall/winter. The prior visitors went into freezer retirement.
Tj Jefferson wrote:Where did you find the poncirus trifoliata at a price worth planting? That is a cool plant!
Tj Jefferson wrote:I am very envious about the poncirus, what a cool looking plant. I have had to plant mimosas. I'm hoping they can be my nurse trees. I got the seeds from one down the road so I don't know how successful I will be.
Cristo Balete wrote:
Nitrogen is crucial, as well as keeping the hugel damp.
Tyler Ludens wrote:
I thought the main idea of hugelkultur is that it keeps itself damp. That it is a means to grow food without irrigation.
"grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization"
Jonathan Rivera wrote:In my opinion, huglekultur is the most misunderstood method in the permaculture world. It's a way of dealing with low quality, and brush wood, and building soil long term.
Tyler Ludens wrote:Do you feel those who promote it as a means to grow food without irrigation are misunderstanding the method?
Angelika Maier wrote:I don't do huegel anymore I did not have good results. They may be good if your soil allows digging if not and you are building only up then it dries out in no time at all. And the soil fertility was not right either.
One bed with perennial herbs and shrubs does well now but only after dumping lots of manure in there. The advantage for a herb huegel is that there are different conditions in the bed and you can plant more dfferent species.
I start to believe that there's something wrong with the concept in general, because these posts are coming up quite often.