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SF Bay Area - Hugel in a raised bed  RSS feed

 
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Hello all, long time lurker first time poster.

I wanted to share with you a hugelkulture i just built into a raised bed that had a bad bug problem.

Backstory:
The raised bed was built with reclaimed wood about 4 years ago. At the time I built 2 beds, the first bed (north) was filled with dirt from the property. Mostly clay soil and then filled with leaves and mulch from nearby properties. The south bed was filled with purchased soil that came in the form of bags. This bed has a bug problem like you wouldn't believe in the winter time. I've tried all sorts of things from *gasp* spray chemicals to companion planting to adding a ridiculous amounts of organic materials like horse manure, wood chips, kitchen scraps, etc. Nothing helped. I talked to a past president of the California Horticultural Society in SF about the issue and they recommended looking for worms. If none, add them. But better yet, mix in some soil from the compost bin and dig in some of the clay around the property.

I should note: To make room in the raised bed I dug up the soil that was there I moved to the front yard and used as filler in another project.

So I dug up my compost pile (which was really just kitchen scraps that were dug into the ground over the period of 2 years [take bad clay, dig a hole, place a contents of a container of kitchen scraps, cover with clay and water. repeat next week]).   The soil turned out great! I also got a credit on my trash bill for keeping kitchen scraps on property and out of my green container!

I put the compost pile into the raised bed on one side, including all the worms and not yet composted kitchen scraps. I then covered it with some more horse manure and wood chips and watered in place.

Last summer I grew Roma and Cherry tomatoes. The plants got big and put out a decent volume of fruit given the limited lighting of the spot. When the tomato plants finished producing in October I pulled them all out and went to town digging up the raised bed and installing wood logs and branches in the bottom. Lets start the pictures:

First photo is after tearing out the tomato plants (I left the basil plant because it still had good leaves) and digging up the roots and finding roots of my neighbors queen palm in the bed. grrr...



The bed also had a lot of rocks in it... must have come from the compost pile maybe? Weird. So I screened out the dirt and saved the screenings in my wheel barrow. This was probably not the best thing to do since it breaks up soil structure but I also removed a ton of debris that wasn't going to work in the bed - like stucco cement (we redid the siding on our house and apparently the contractors viewed the tomato bed as a dump ground? thanks guys), paint chips, those pesky plastic fruit labels, ground up plastic 6-packs - probably from all that bagged soil and a lot of decorative rock.



But what I also found, was a ton of worms. Little ones too!



Ok, so once the soil was screened to 3/8" I had a wheelbarrow of the screenings.



And I dumped the screened leftovers in the green container... the trash company can deal with it.



In the trenches I dug up I laid down logs, branches, tree limbs, etc.



They were watered to moisten up and then covered with the screened dirt.



I repeated this process 6 times (6 trenches across the length of the bed, except for the part where the basil plant and irrigation pipe was and ended up on the other side of the bed here.



After the entire bed was back together I gave it a healthy watering to ensure all the soil was damp and here is the final photo:



On my todo list - is to add more horse manure (something I'm doing today) and wood chips from a neighbors free wood chip truck they had dumped in their driveway. It is raining today in the SF Bay Area and the rain will help water all the organic material in. I'll keep this thread updated as time passes.

Cheers!
 
N Hansen
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More pictures!

There is a equestrian ranch near me with free aged composted horse manure. The only catch is I have to shovel myself. I brought a few 5 gallon buckets and got to work. Took them home and spread it on the raised bed.

seen here:



Next I swung by my neighbors house and took some wood chips from their driveway pile. Its mostly pine and it wasn't chipped up very well. Tons of huge chunks! Oh well. That has now been spread on the bed too.



Now we just wait for the rains and time to pass to let the horse manure turn to dirt, and let the wood chips break down, hopefully for next spring/summer planting season.

:)
 
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Location: Oakland, CA
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chicken fungi trees
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Very cool practical soil building.  It might be worth testing for lead if there were paint chips in there, although so much organic material would most likely tie up any lead.  I had my best success last summer with squash planted on a sunken hugel bed/ buried wood.  Wishing you luck!
 
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I am doing that in my Bay area yard! I call it my Pseudokulture bed.
Some of my logs are larger, but many are the size that your pictures showed. The edging I used was cement holders for pressure treated lumber.
I am filling in with some nice garden dirt and some Nitrogen sources like cheap coffee grounds. The water is so alkaline here the bed can use some acidity.
I wanted pollinator plants, but my cardoons took over. A few garlic bulbs. I need to keep the kitties out so I can plant some flower seeds.

Good job Perming in the Bay area!
Go us!
 
N Hansen
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Elizabeth Griffith wrote:I am doing that in my Bay area yard! I call it my Pseudokulture bed.
Some of my logs are larger, but many are the size that your pictures showed. The edging I used was cement holders for pressure treated lumber.
I am filling in with some nice garden dirt and some Nitrogen sources like cheap coffee grounds. The water is so alkaline here the bed can use some acidity.
I wanted pollinator plants, but my cardoons took over. A few garlic bulbs. I need to keep the kitties out so I can plant some flower seeds.

Good job Perming in the Bay area!
Go us!



Yay!

I put my used coffee grounds from the kitchen and those I take home from work on this bed too. Sometimes the local Whole Foods Coffee counter will give me a days worth of used coffee grounds as well.
 
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where are you in in the SF bay area? I am in Morgan Hill.
 
N Hansen
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Martin Bernal wrote:where are you in in the SF bay area? I am in Morgan Hill.



Walnut Creek.

Side note: the mounding from the wood chips has dropped significantly and I'm now looking into adding more wood chips to my other raised beds.
 
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