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Hugelkultur with freshly cut tree

 
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Please pardon me if this has been answered elsewhere on this forum.  
I did check but with 10461 [now 62] posts I might have missed it.

I’ve a mulberry tree in a bad location and it needs to be removed.
Is it reasonable that it can be used in a hugelkultur bed as soon as it's down, still green?

Trunk has a 9" diameter and tree is about 20' tall and a bit gangly so most branches would be less than 5" diameter.
I would bury it a couple of feet deep, I’m guessing.

I know fallen and dead trees are fine candidates but I don’t know about recently green ones.

I’m in the high desert of Southern California.  Antelope Valley specifically.
Thanks for you help!
 
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Sure you can do it. You can do anything!

That said, green wood is notorious for binding nitrogen, so use as much green waste as you can and if you have access to mature manure use some of that as well and a thick dash of compost to boot.  The Kultur isn't going to produce the same way as an old wood kultur would, but it is a great way to remove waste and not waste it...

I am working on a huge brush kultur as I reclaim about a tenth acre of land that has been abandoned since Hurricane Sandy. It has entered primary succession but with mostly invasive species like multiflora, wineberry, bitter sweet and autumn olive.  I have been cutting these, digging out the stumps, allowing them to dry and die and then layering with tons of oak leaves and a dash of compost and soil at each level. I am not cutting the green branches up small at all, but supplementing the possibility that they would bind nitrogen by adding plenty of it to the mix at all levels.  Kitchen waste in the from of all veg scraps and spent coffee grounds go on each level too and yes, plenty of urine if you are up to it.

Just remember that ALL the tree needs to be completely covered. IF you have any old wood laying around, even in the form of small branches, throw those in right next to the green wood.  Mature wood chips would also work well to introduce those cold loving wood fungus kiddies!

Good luck!  
 
steward
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You can definitely use fresh wood in a hugel bed. Nitrogen binding is not usually a big issue because the interface between the soil and the wood is pretty small. It would be a different story if you were to mix in woodchips or lots of very small branches. Fresh wood will last longer in the hugel bed, but will not be as effective initially.

You might end up with the mulberry log sprouting in the hugel bed, which could be desirable depending on what your intent is. One important thing with hugelkultur beds is not to have too much wood for the amount of soil.
 
John Eakin
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Thank you both for the very helpful and informative replies.
I'll be preparing the spot for the wood this summer and fall.
I'll try and make it go in deep.
I'm having it taken out after the leaves fall.
 
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We've used both and find better results with fresh wood.

I seem to recall one of Paul's podcasts making the following points (dont quote me on this, but I am fairly sure):
1. Fresh wood is inherently "wet" so starts acting as a sponge quicker as opposed to dry material which really sucks up water (but then holds it once saturated)
2. Fungal growth (good thing) works quicker/better on fresh timber
3. Fresh timber lasts longer, but might take longer to get humming

 
gardener
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I like to use both when I can since I figure it adds more diversity of structure to the bed that should also support a greater diversity of life. If you read up on organisms that eat dead plant material some will only go after fresh cut material, some will only go after the material after that first wave, some will only go after the material after the second wave, and on and on until you just have good healthy soil left. Since I will be adding chop and drop material every year to the surface of the bed and that material will be of various size (so some will decompose in a year, some will take several years) I figure supporting the full range of soil life right from the beginning will help guarantee the overall success of my bed. Also, by adding some older material that is already partially decomposed to the mix I'm introducing all that life to the bed which could help with the fresh material. Last hugel bed I made had fresh logs and logs that had tons of mushrooms sprouting out of them. Overall nature seems to be telling us that diversity of life is good regardless of the situation - think of a forest floor with the full range of freshly fallen trees to old nurse logs that could have been there for 100+ years in some extreme cases.

Though I will add that I have had some maples trying to sprout out of my beds. I just keep cutting them back and they are slowly going away so it has not been a big issue.
 
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Hi,
I had a lot of woodchips with leaves... (from cutdown trees) delivered. Leaves are still green.
Was wondering if this could be used in my Hugelkultur raised beds... or would it have to be without leaves?
thanks
James
 
gardener & hugelmaster
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Location: mountains of Tennessee
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I think l leaves are a big plus which is why I intentionally add them to new hugelbeds & every other garden space.
 
pollinator
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Before you bury it, I'd just point out that mulberry is a hardwood and considered great for using as a smoking wood on your grill or in a smoker.

A huge section of an old mulberry I have fell down. I chopped it into logs, and use them for smoking whenever I'm grilling or smoking anything. Basically, that's my next ten years of smoking wood right there.
I have plenty of other junk wood that I use for hugelkulture, so I wouldn't waste precious hardwood for that, personally.

That being said... I did take a few of the smaller mulberry pieces and half-buried where I'm starting mushrooms - but that was to feed the mushrooms, which prefer (non-heartwood) hardwood.
 
pollinator
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James Moffett wrote:Hi,
I had a lot of woodchips with leaves... (from cutdown trees) delivered. Leaves are still green.
Was wondering if this could be used in my Hugelkultur raised beds... or would it have to be without leaves?
thanks
James



Its controversial aroind these parts. The argument against woodchips seems to be mainly.that they don't last long, they bind more nitrogen, and they don't sponge moisture as well. All of that seems to be true, but I've still found great success.with a small hugel that had lots of woodchips. If you're expecting to make a woodchips heavy hugel and have it rocking for a decade you will be disappointed, if you accept that its going to be a 3 or 4 year thing then I think it still works great.

I would recmend using chips to pack into the biggest.gaps in any larger wood.you're using. If its just gonna be woodchips then I would mound them all together as.the base of the mound and out other organic matter and soil, compost, etc on top of them
 
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