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HugelKultur Advice: New Property, northern california valley?  RSS feed

 
                                  
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hi
I have just recently acquired a 3 acre parcel on the north slope of a mtn, zone 7 , nortern california valley 3500 ft -full sun, high winds,  high desert terrain( junipers and manzinatas , green sage brush ) not alot of snow & rain fall although the south side has 5 ft of snow now...this three acres (8 miles from town) is completely off the grid and i want to keep it that way -----I am starting from scratch here and after days of research, covering seemingly endless options i realized, being a complete novice with permaculture technology, i should probably ask some advice . and found permies !!!yaaaay,  

more back ground for a Hugel Kulture bed------there is only 5 live junipers left, the state forest borders the property and in 2006 one of thier controlled burns got a little out of hand. as a result i have lots of burnt manzanita roots which yank right out of the ground quite easily AND we have many  several completly toasted, dead standing juniper trees, a few of which have fallen over as the roots are rotting away quite nicely.  We will limb and top several of the larger  dead junipers for wild life and decor/fences and boxes, and dig up the rest. ( we are thinking a wall of ponderosa pines for replacements )
What i guess my questions are......
1-- what will be needed to optimize a hugel kulture bed with a solid base of Juniper and Burnt Manzanita root (compost/soil layering techniques) - i gather juniper can be toxic (but its been dead for years ) - is manzanita toxic ? how bout green sage ?
2-- should i make a mound ? or dig huge a pit ?
3-- several mounds or several pits ?
4-- a combination of both  /?
5---heres a big one i cant find any info on ? (maybee its just that dumb a question) --- can i cover a small hugel pile with a geodesic dome green house ( and water it up real good because no rain  ? will there be problems with noxious gasses accumulating ?
6-- really, i want to slap up a permanent 36 foot dome green house. with Rocket Furnaces to heat and grow year round ----does any body do that is it possible norcal winters arent really that cold
7-- what if i did that,,, on top of a GIANT HUGEL KULTURE PIT -   Why cant i do that huh
+++++++
      as well, this property is in the midst of an elluvial plain. the naturul flow of glacial summer run off has been diverted and now flows at the  southern foot of my prop. there is a 2 mile burm the water follows in place of what used to be the southern road for this subdivision.. ------ so, the soil is real sandy with lots of round riverstones  but compared to the volcanic rockscape half mile away, outside the eluvial plain, my dirt is kinda sweet i think. its been flood bed for hundreds of years.. I have not tested it but sorta assume if its coming from this glacier on top of the mountain , it musta brought some good stuff with it. right ? wrong ?? - there is some kinda nice stuff growing natural.
. we have wild rose hips, and some green grass coming up now
+++++++++
8-- should i use this soil for some of the layers of my hugel bed ?? there is plenty of it.
9-- we want to grow every thing possible. are hugel beds good for everything ?? maybee i should only do half the growing area in hugel kulture, IDK
10--the birm is about 7 feet high and borders the entire southern property line (300ft). I was thinking if i lined my side with stumps and soil, i could reinforce the birm and make a HUGEL WALL/Terrace- maybee i should plant the new ponderosa pines there. or dig a pit before the birm, hugel it up ,then plant trees
++++++
as you can see i am plauged with ideas and motivation. and am ready for construction THIS WEEK...
Where should i start ?
thank you in advance to any one, who takes the time to read this and can help with any possible answers and solutions
sincerly
tom & tanya
ps.( about the picture/Rough plans) the red boundry inside is 300ft x 350ft - some of the items are
a: thick light green square = 100x100 area for my godess to develope
b: red circle with line = 36ft circumfrence geodesic dome greenhouse ( this is for size not necisarily placement) all measurements are displayed accurately to scale in pic .....
c: blue square = 20000 gallon water bladder ( for size) ( we are actually purchasing a ten thousand gallon on tuesday and i will be asking more questions)
d:darker green thick L shape= proposed new tree line ( probably stagger them ( the area infront of that line is where i will be experimenting with domes and golden mean pyramids )
e:purple= road
f: yellow rectangle is my 33 ft trailer ( we will be adding a grey water field over there somewhere )
g: dark blue line : this is the most exciting for me... if you look closely  at the bottom left of the pic you can see the darker line where the water flows on to my property and then west along the birm (which you cant really see in the pic). the property slopes slightly west and i should be able to use some of that water for my food growing fields.... no ?...YES.
the blue line represents whatever system i devise to utilise that source.
thx again for reading



prop to perm out.png
[Thumbnail for prop to perm out.png]
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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looks like an interesting plan. I don't see why you couldn't use the juniper but I don't really know if  it has toxicity or not, I would go ahead and bury it and see how it works, it will definately hold a lot more water than the sandy soil.

so the water cuts through your property, that is nice, is it a year around creek or does it dry up.

I would be careful of any pines downhill from you if you are in a burn area..as they are tinder, you might want to read up on burn zones and make sure that you have a safe no burn area around your house..fire travels uphill.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I am using quite a bit of juniper in my hugel beds and so far no problems.  This is aged juniper, not freshly cut.

In the desert I would make pit hugel beds.  In fact, I'm not even quite in the desert and that's what I'm doing and so far I'm very happy with the results. 

I'm excavating my 1000 square foot kitchen garden about 18" down and replacing the rocks with logs to eventually make the entire garden one big hugel bed.  The only real problems I've encountered is if I didn't sift dirt carefully enough around the logs, as the earth settles there will be weird holes and depressions.  These are fairly easily filled with more dirt, but sometimes baby plants are falling down into the holes.  So I'm being more careful as I refill the trenches.

If in doubt, try both mounds and pits.  Several of each if you have the time, energy, and materials.

I don't think you'll get any special noxious gases if you put a greenhouse over hugel beds.  Remember you'll want to be able to ventilate the greenhouse sometimes anyway.

 
                                  
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so, if i have huge stumps and quite a bit of debris, i wouldnt want to dig say a 4 foot deep trench and just dump it all in. will the material be too far down to do any good ?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I don't see anything wrong with digging a four foot deep trench, but at the same time I don't think such a deep trench is necessary. 
 
Jordan Lowery
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so, if i have huge stumps and quite a bit of debris, i wouldnt want to dig say a 4 foot deep trench and just dump it all in. will the material be too far down to do any good ?


all of the wood debris in my hugel beds in my forest garden are 3-4 ft deep. this will encourage deep roots in the summer when it is very dry and hot here.
 
            
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Location: Northport, Wash.
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We just take all our woody debris, place in low spots and cover with old hay and soil, or place around stumps in a mound, cover with old hay and soil, or lay along the hillsides in a line, cover with old hay, rake and shovel soil out of hillside onto hay, creating a flat spot that helps collect water and gives us a place to walk.
We never saw a need to get too "scientific" about anything.  When dealing with nature, just remember that all that happens is things drop on the ground naturally, and nature takes over from there.
We can then take advantage of the process as it happens, or speed things up a little by creating the environment where the natural processes take place, as in a compost pile, or adding mulch here and there to create humus.
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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The advantage to digging deeper pits into which to put your woody material is if you already have huge amounts of the stuff, including stumps etc, that you want to get rid of without burning.

That's the situation we're in right now. And thanks to this forum I'm planning to use the debris to make Hugel beds. I'll make them deeper than necessary partly because I have so much of the darned stuff (rotting wood).

Actually, this just made me think of a question: most of our rotting wood is fir (Douglas and Grand) so I'm wondering if there's a depth at which the toxicity of the stuff won't matter so much, but close enough to the surface to perform water-retaining duty. ?
 
                                  
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soil wrote:
all of the wood debris in my hugel beds in my forest garden are 3-4 ft deep. this will encourage deep roots in the summer when it is very dry and hot here.

time to get the excavator out for me sounds like. deep pits sure would get rid of alot of this wood. i do think i will do various sizes of pits and mounds. it really looks like with so many individual circumstances, each must perma prop needs to be cultivated differently. seems i should just go with my intuitions and see what works over time. on you tube i have seen hugel kulture beds constructed in many ways all different.
 
                                  
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does any one have any suggestions for propper plant families to seed the mounds with?
 
                                
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I'm really glad I found this thread. I'm also located in the high desert of Nor. Cal and am conceptualizing making a Hugel bed out of juniper. Was your project successful? Would you be able to give some tips and share advice of what you did? The dead juniper that I have access to is just so dang dry it's hard to visualize it breaking down and providing any nutrients. I'm excited to give it a go thought 
 
Tyler Ludens
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I have used quite a bit of juniper in my buried wood beds, with no ill effects. 

 
Tim Southwell
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Location: Hamilton, MT
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bee chicken forest garden
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L8Bloomer wrote:
Actually, this just made me think of a question: most of our rotting wood is fir (Douglas and Grand) so I'm wondering if there's a depth at which the toxicity of the stuff won't matter so much, but close enough to the surface to perform water-retaining duty. ?


In the Mtns of MT, I too am looking to use past fire / beetle killed Pine (ponderosa, Lodgepole) and Fir (Grand, Douglas).  Can you advise about this Toxic aspect you refer to... as I plan to implement my swale / Hk bed design this coming summer.  Thanks!
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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