• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Combining Hugelkultur, Raised Beds, and Sheet Mulch  RSS feed

 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I liked the idea of a raised bed but live in a dry area and was concerned about keeping it watered plus didn't know where I'd get soil to fill it.  After I built my first Hugelkultur I thought, "Why not build a Hugelkultur in a raised bed?"  That would seem to solve the watering problem.  And then why not sheet mulch/lasagna on top of it to build the soil from scratch?

[center]
[/center]

I took siding from an old barn and made 2 foot high walls for the bed.  It runs about 35 feet long and 4 feet wide.  I threw logs into it and they come up to 8-12 inches.

What I'm planning on next is to dump cow manure in here.  There are cracks and spaces between the logs that most of it would fill.  Then I'll fill the rest up with leaves and straw and then a layer of compost (if I've got enough). 

My only concern is that the manure is fresh from the last 1-3 months.  My thinking is that either by spring this won't be a problem or that it being farther down below that it won't effect plants on top too negatively.

Thoughts or ideas?  Anybody else done this?
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
a few of our beds are made this exact way. they work wonders the second year and on. first year is really good for legumes.
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
soil- thanks for the tip!  do you notice any difference in the first year with how fresh the manure is?
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
we actually use plant based compost and native soil rather than manure. just picky i guess but manure would work fine if you gave it some time to decompose.

on top of the wood i also throw lots of plant scraps( tree trimmings, veggie scraps, spent blooms, anything) if its big it goes through a chipper and then a few inches deep of that, some soil, compost, soil, compost, mulch. wait until spring, plant snow peas early, then beans after, by then the bed is pretty ready for fall crops.
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
Posts: 143
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have done something similar inside my horse pastures.  I am using the natural contours of the land in coordination with the horses prefered "pottie-spots" in an effort to create a pasture/forest/garden type system.

I have the hugelkultur/raised beds located in the corners where the horses prefer to deposit nutrients and, also, along slopes to slow and collect as much surface water (and stray nutrients) as possible.  I do not put fresh horse manure on my beds during the growing season.  I compost it during the warm months and during winter I toss it right on top along with any uneaten hay.

I am, also, planting trees in a pattern to help buffer the grasses and soil from the heat of the sun.  I do have to fence off these areas from the horses (otherwise, my horses would debark the trees and eat the berries).

 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have had,, concerining the spot i made to put in delicete plants till they got strong, which I made as a raised sort of box bed , conflicting thoughts. 
     If you water a box  that is raised above the level of the ground, the wetness  of the area you have watered wont leach away into the soil around.
    If on the other hand, if you have your huggleKulture logs buried in the ground, they will take longer to dry out than they would with just a board between them and the air.
    I dont know how to decide which consideration is more important. I suppose by trail and comparing the two different methods. agri rose macaskie.
 
                                    
Posts: 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is exactly similar to what I1m currently doing just without the wooden border that keeps it together. I'm also combining horse manure \ dry leaves \ greens. Its first time so fingers crossed.

Good luck to you too!
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey folks, Paul has a new podcast up, which talks about building soil from scratch in one part. Here is the link: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/
 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think that will be an AWESOME hugel bed.  If you top over it with compost, why not grow in it the first year?  You just may need to water slightly more, but it should work just as well as a normal raised bed for the first year or two.  I'd like to see update pics when you get it filled and planted.  Nice work!
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
UPDATE!

I know I should have updated this before, but you know--things get in the way. 

I seeded all of the hugelbed in spring, then wondered why nothing was coming up, then saw all the pill bugs attacking all the seedlings.  This was discovered too late and none of the seedlings made it. 

So I replanted only about half the bed.  At the same time I planted a sheet mulch bed that had been prepared last fall.  I didn't didn't plant at the same time on purpose, but it has been very useful for comparisons.

As you can see from the pics below, the plants in the hugelbed are MUCH larger than the sheet mulched bed.  Everything seems to explode all over in the hugel while things seem somewhat stunted in the sheet mulch (heavy clay soil underneath probably has a lot to do with that).

We're in a hot drought in central Texas and I need to water the sheet mulch once every other day.  Some plants are wilted but spring back.  The hugelbed I could probably go for 4 days, watering only those that really need it more frequently (bell peppers seem to really be taking it hard).  However I do water lightly every other day and everything seems to be very happy.

I'd love to see what weekly rains would do for this bed--I'm guessing only spot watering would be required for drying plants.

I had to brace across the bed with wire because the walls started bowing out heavily.  Also before I plant anything I take a small spade and hack into the dirt to fill air pockets, then cover with more soil.  Was having a problem with plants stunting and dying when roots reached air pockets.


hugelkultur bed


sheet mulch bed
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
the funny thing is if you had no hugel bed to compare to, the sheet mulch would be looking pretty good i bet lol.
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wonder if we could combine this with a wicking bed for even more water efficiency?
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another update!

The walls of my raised bed were falling out from the weight. So I put new supports with fenceposts wired together (which I'll run lines for vines this summer on) and had to dig out the hugel pile next to it because the pathway was disappearing!

I have only a few winter crops, and a lot of cover crops planted a couple weeks ago. Looking good!





My original photos are broken, I see. I'll try to dig them up--before and after pics are always better than just after
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Broken images above, here is the yearly progress of the bed. It's looking very promising this year!
raised-bed-hugelkulture.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-bed-hugelkulture.jpg]
Riased Hugelkulture Bed In Construction, Dec 2010
raised-hugelkulture-garden.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-garden.jpg]
Raised hugelkulture garden 2011
raised-hugelkulture-garden-bed.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-garden-bed.jpg]
Fence posts for side bed supports installed (aka bean vine supports for the summer!), cover crops and bok choy February 2012
 
Roman Milford
Posts: 24
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Whew! Just finished laying out the blocks for my hugelkultur raised beds. They're about 5 ft wide, and 40 ft long. I used solid 8inch concrete blocks, dry stacked 2 high giving me a 16" wall. Not planning on digging out the sod as it was at one time backfilled so it's very gravelly, impossible to dig. Instead I'm laying down newspaper, then cardboard, followed by a layer of leaf mold. Now I just have to find the logs, I'll need alot!
raised-hugelkulture-bed-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-bed-1.jpg]
raised-hugelkulture-bed-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-bed-2.jpg]
raised-hugelkulture-bed-4.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-bed-4.jpg]
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Those look awesome roman! Keep us updated!
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Update

The bed is in its 2nd year and is doing really well! It was hard to get a picture of the whole thing so here are a couple of snaps. Corn, cucumber, flowers (including one 8 foot sunflower that I didn't know was going to be a sunflower), chicory, okra, peppers, herbs, squash, carrots, beans, cabbage, swiss chard, volunteer mullein and some other stuff. Looks like it's going to be a great year!

I've been lightly watering this about every 3 or 4 days except for the seedlings which I water everyday and everything seems to be doing well.
raised-hugelkulture-garden-bed-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-garden-bed-1.jpg]
raised-hugelkulture-bed-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-bed-2.jpg]
 
Roman Milford
Posts: 24
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My hugelkultur / raised bed / sheet mulched / trellised gardens nearing completion:

raised-hugelkulture-bed-7.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-bed-7.jpg]
raised-hugelkulture-bed-5.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-bed-5.jpg]
raised-hugelkulture-bed-1a.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised-hugelkulture-bed-1a.jpg]
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9696
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
176
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, those look great Roman!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9696
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
176
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chris Dean wrote:
The bed is in its 2nd year and is doing really well!


Are you concerned at all about the sides decomposing or is that part of the plan?

 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:

Are you concerned at all about the sides decomposing or is that part of the plan?



I'd love to say it was part of the plan! But no, it wasn't. It was more about available tools at hand, and I didn't think about the sides decomposing until it was too late.

I do think they will last a while, and I will probably be able to patch them up one or two times. Maybe 10 years? Give or take? After that I can take the walls down for it to be a nice, though quite wide, mound bed and place a few flat stones here and there for footing.
 
Yone' Ward
Posts: 135
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chris Dean wrote:I liked the idea of a raised bed but live in a dry area and was concerned about keeping it watered plus didn't know where I'd get soil to fill it.  After I built my first Hugelkultur I thought, "Why not build a Hugelkultur in a raised bed?"  That would seem to solve the watering problem.  And then why not sheet mulch/lasagna on top of it to build the soil from scratch?

[center]
[/center]

I took siding from an old barn and made 2 foot high walls for the bed.  It runs about 35 feet long and 4 feet wide.  I threw logs into it and they come up to 8-12 inches.

What I'm planning on next is to dump cow manure in here.  There are cracks and spaces between the logs that most of it would fill.  Then I'll fill the rest up with leaves and straw and then a layer of compost (if I've got enough). 

My only concern is that the manure is fresh from the last 1-3 months.  My thinking is that either by spring this won't be a problem or that it being farther down below that it won't effect plants on top too negatively.

Thoughts or ideas?  Anybody else done this?
I was thinking of doing this in a mike oehler style earth sheltered greenhouse.
 
Danette Cross
Posts: 67
Location: St. Ignatius, Montana, zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am doing this too. I have 4 beds 4'x20'. Cardboard on the bottom, then old logs, then twigs etc, then old horse manure and grass, then more green clipping, dry brown material, and will cover the tops with some soil, soil pep and compost (all mixed nicely) in the spring. These have sat for about 6 months, and will have sat for about 7 before I get the top layers on and start planting, so I am hopeful these will work well.

I am also going to do a raised straw bale garden of about 20 regular sized bales in 5 bale rows. But rather than just have them sit exposed as in regular straw bale gardening, I am going to build raised beds for them the height of the bale (about 14" is the average bale, but will build them at least 2' high for added soil etc.). So the raised bed will become a compost pile during the winter months. In the spring throw new bales on top. Eventually I will be planting in nearly 100% compost!
 
Something must be done about this. Let's start by reading this tiny ad:
2017 Homesteaders PDC (permaculture design course) & ATC (appropriate technology course) in Montana
https://permies.com/wiki/61764/Homesteaders-PDC-permaculture-design-ATC
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!