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Hugel bed hedgerow  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I just finished building a 105 foot long hugel bed on my property. I thought I would share it as an example of a hugel bed and I'm going to document how it grows and changes through this first year, and through the following years. The hugel bed runs along a shared dirt road and part of my parking area. It is not planted yet but I have a bunch of native plants coming in at the end of next week. A big goal of this hugel bed was to create a hedgerow or living fence that would provide privacy, create a barrier to keep deer out and my son in (his play area will be next to it), and provide habitat for wildlife.

The hugel bed is around 4ft high in the middle and around 5ft wide at the base. The attached picture was generated automatically by google photos and unfortunately got the pictures out of order. The ones showing the bed mulched are the newest pictures. I will be adding a temporary deer fence around it once it is planted to give the plants time to get established and grow tall and thick enough to stop the deer.

For my planting plan I consider the front side of the hugel bed to be the side along the road facing south and the back side facing in towards the rest of my property facing north. The front will be planted with Nootka rose to form a thorny and relatively sort thick barrier. In the middle/top I'm planting mock orange and red flowering currants except near existing fruit trees (a large pie cheery tree and a small nectarine tree). Near the fruit trees I'm planting snowberries in the middle/top since they stay shorter - the thought is that the branches from the fruit trees will just reach the top of the snowberries making a fairly solid barrier. Along the base of the bed on the back side I'm planting cascara (native tree - 25ft tall) which will be the tallest plant. In between the cascara and up a bit from the base I'm planting osoberry (Indian plum) and tall Oregon grape. I'm also adding a mix of native lupines to the front of the bed in a row above the Nootka rose and below the mock orange and red flowering currants. For a ground cover I'm also adding native wild strawberries and I will be spreading California poppy seeds later in the year. Once the first plants get established on the back side I will add some salal which does well in shade and produces edible berries and is an evergreen to fill in any gaps.

I'm also adding the above plants to my existing 125 foot long hugel bed that I built this time last year that my new bed connects to. All in all this will hopefully result in a 230 foot long hedgerow that I never need to water. The two beds were built differently, so it will also be interesting to see how they differ over time. The existing bed is more of a buried hugel bed but it is still about 3ft above ground too while the new bed is fully above ground except for a few large conifer rounds that I partially buried. The area where the existing bed is located was an old parking area so it was heavily compacted which led me to build a buried hugel bed in order to deal with the compaction.

In the pictures you will notice a wet area along the hugel bed in the parking area. This drains very quickly once the rains stop but I will be adding wood chips and planting it with clover to minimize any water issues. But since it drains really quickly I'm not too worried about it. The water that runs along the dirt road is later diverted into a large mulch basin that empties out into my property.

This bed was built by hand using a shovel, pitch fork, and wheelbarrow. Took me quite a while to get it all done but it should prove worthwhile.

Hope you all find this interesting and I will be sharing more pictures and info as the beds grow this year and the following years.
hugel-bed-building-collage.jpg
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Collage showing the new hugel bed as it was built from start to finish
 
pollinator
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Excellent job.  I can't wait to see how it looks fully planted.
 
Daron Williams
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Thanks! I will post some pictures as soon as I get it planted. Next week most of the plants come in but I also have to get the lupine seeds ready and get some cuttings of snowberries from my parents place to install near the fruit trees. I hope to have everything planted by mid-February with the majority going in the first weekend in February. Then I will just need to wait for spring!
 
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I love this idea. You will be so happy when you see all the birds enjoying your native hedgerow. My old boss had a native hedgerow which was always buzzing with wildlife activity. If I recall he had lots of salmonberry with many sturdy vertical canes that formed a very effective barrier,  and has very early flowers and edible berries.

Also if this matters to you, ask your nursery about the genetic purity of their Nootka rose because my understanding is that it easily hybridizes with invasive rose species and creates weedy offspring. Good luck please post follow up pictures :)
 
Daron Williams
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Keith Chaloux wrote:I love this idea. You will be so happy when you see all the birds enjoying your native hedgerow. My old boss had a native hedgerow which was always buzzing with wildlife activity. If I recall he had lots of salmonberry with many sturdy vertical canes that formed a very effective barrier,  and has very early flowers and edible berries.

Also if this matters to you, ask your nursery about the genetic purity of their Nootka rose because my understanding is that it easily hybridizes with invasive rose species and creates weedy offspring. Good luck please post follow up pictures :)



Thanks! I'm really excited to see all the wildlife that should come in to use it as it grows. I might try salmon berry in some areas - I love how early it flowers.

The nursery I'm getting the plants from is the WA Conservation District Association Plant Center. Luckily they have good standards and grow native plants for restoration work across Washington. So the plants should be good :) I will post some pics as I move forward.
 
Daron Williams
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Got my first plant planted! Just one sicklekeel lupine that was given to me by a native plant nursery that I work with a lot. This lupine is native to western Washington but normally found at a higher elevation than my place. Should still do good and I'm going to be buying some more later in Spring to go with a three other native lupines that I'm direct seeding. I could not get seeds for the sicklekeel lupine but once the ones I'm buying flower I can just save their seeds and spread them around my place :)
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First plant in - Sicklekeel Lupine
 
Daron Williams
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The hugel bed hedgerow has been moving forward steadily and at the moment I'm anxiously waiting for my seeds to germinate. I find that I always get nervous/anxious after planting seeds waiting for them to germinate and get their first leaves. I just love watching the little plants grow and I find it can be a bit hard sometimes to operate on plant time ;)

Since planting that first lupine I have put in a large number of what I'm calling mini-terraces on the side of the hugel bed. These mini-terraces are filled with soil and were made by pulling the mulch back until I reached the base soil and then adding new soil to the exposed area. This created a bunch of nice planting beds for seeds. I put a thick mulch layer over the entire hugel bed so these mini-terraces are necessary to be able to use seeds.

In the mini-terraces I have mostly planted seeds but I also planted some native plants that I recently salvaged. Along the front and the top of the hugel beds I planted a bunch of native lupine seeds. Lupines develop a taproot and fix nitrogen so I hope they will help improve the hugel bed and help secure the soil of the bed. I have also planted a lot of miner's lettuce seeds on the shady areas of the bed on the north side. Here is the full list of seeds that have been planted so far:
  • Miner's lettuce
  • Mix flowers for pollinators (around 24 different types)
  • Native lupines
  • Carrots
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • Chickweed
  • Yarrow (native variety)
  • Kale


  • The core of the hedgerow is the woody plants that are planted on the front, back and top of the bed. All the woody plants are native to Western Washington. I planted cascara (native tree that grows up to around 25 ft) on the back side of the bed at its base. Here is the list of all the woody plants:
  • Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana)
  • Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)
  • Tall Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
  • Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
  • Oso Berry (Oemlaria cerasiformis)
  • Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)


  • Through a native plant salvage event I also got a bunch of herbaceous plants that have been planted in the hugel bed. Here is the list:
  • Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)
  • Rattlesnake-Orchid (Goodyera oblongifolia)
  • Piggy-Back Plant (Tolmiea menziesii)
  • Pacific Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum tenuipes)
  • Henderson Sedge (Carex hendersonii) + one other woodland sedge that I forgot the name of
  • Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) salvaged some small plants growing wild
  • Coastal strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) taken from my existing plants that were spreading into the dirt road


  • I'm going to be adding some other seeds to the hugel bed as the weather warms. Here are the other seeds:
  • Cilantro
  • Peas - snap and shelling types - will be planted this weekend to grow up the posts of the deer fence
  • Green beans (bush)
  • Swiss chard
  • Perpetual spinach - type of chard but a little different
  • Beet Leaf-chard
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberry Spinach


  • I'm also going to plant a few tomato plants later to try growing them up some of the deer fence posts. Never grown tomatoes that way so this will just be an experiment.

    Right now the hedgerow will have a lot of vegetables and annuals mixed in around the woody plants. I expect overtime to see a large reduction in the diversity of the annuals as the herbaceous perennials and woody plants become established. Eventually, the hedgerows will be mostly woody plants with herbaceous plants mixed in.

    Most of the seeds were too recently planted to be coming up but the lupines are coming up great!

    I will post some more pics later.
    hugel-bed-hedgerow-drone-view.jpg
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    Looking down on the hugel bed hedgerow using a drone
    salvaged-native-plants.jpg
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    Almost a hundred salvaged native plants - mix of woody and herbaceous plants
     
    pollinator
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    I love the addition of the decomposing woody materials and the mosses. Those will definitely provide any fungi that might be lacking in your hugelbeet, even if the mosses don't take. And maybe they will take.

    Lovely pictures. Which direction is north in the photo?

    -CK
     
    Daron Williams
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    Chris Kott wrote:I love the addition of the decomposing woody materials and the mosses. Those will definitely provide any fungi that might be lacking in your hugelbeet, even if the mosses don't take. And maybe they will take.

    Lovely pictures. Which direction is north in the photo?

    -CK



    Thank you! I always try to add some decomposing materials to add fungi to the beds and my mulched areas.

    The buildings on the other side of the dirt road are directly to the south of the hugel beds. The dirt road runs east / west. This means that for the most part I have one sunny side and one shady side for the bed. But I have noticed that the north side still gets sun since the woody plants are just sticks at the moment (planted as bareroots). In the long run I expect shade tolerant plants like miners lettuce and the ferns to become dominant. But this year I'm putting in vegetables that can handle partial shade on the north side. Next year I don't expect the annual vegetables to do well there but I will have new hugel beds installed by then that will be part of my long term garden :)
     
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    Tee-hee, I can't help but notice that the aerial view of your hugel make it look like a giant banana slug!
     
    Daron Williams
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:Tee-hee, I can't help but notice that the aerial view of your hugel make it look like a giant banana slug!



    Hehe, ya I love the aerial view
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Just thought I'd mention, in case you didn't know, that bees seem to LOVE Cascara. Every year, for probably a month, my husband is sure there's a beehive in ours, because of all the buzzing sounds emanating from it. Then, I was walking down the road, chatting with my neighbor, and he commented that he thought there was a hive nearby. I looked up and, sure enough, there was another cascara. That's when I was pretty sure that it was the cascara being in bloom that was bringing crazy amounts of buzzing friends.

    It seems it's good for humminbirds and other wildlife, too (http://www.realgardensgrownatives.com/?p=2965):

    Pollinators—such as hummingbirds and native bees—come to Cascara’s late spring flowers. Birds—including band-tailed pigeons, robins, tanagers and grosbeaks—as well as mammals such as raccoons and coyotes, are attracted to the pea-sized fruit. Birds like bushtits, kinglets, warblers and chickadees forage on insects found on leaves, twigs and bark. Cascara is a host plant for the caterpillars of gray hairstreak and swallowtail butterflies, which feed on its leaves. Mule deer and other mammals may use it as browse.

     
    Daron Williams
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:Just thought I'd mention, in case you didn't know, that bees seem to LOVE Cascara. Every year, for probably a month, my husband is sure there's a beehive in ours, because of all the buzzing sounds emanating from it. Then, I was walking down the road, chatting with my neighbor, and he commented that he thought there was a hive nearby. I looked up and, sure enough, there was another cascara. That's when I was pretty sure that it was the cascara being in bloom that was bringing crazy amounts of buzzing friends...



    Thanks for the info! That is good to know - I really like cascara. Just a great little tree that is supper adaptive. I have already planted a ton of it and plan to add more as my place develops.
     
    Daron Williams
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    Time for an update on the hugel bed. It has been going great but with a few headaches too. For the most part it is now fully planted - at least for this year. I'm having fun mixing in native plants and traditional garden annuals. I have bush beans for example coming up around my osoberries, and tall Oregon grapes, tomatoes and peas growing up posts next to woodland sedge, sword ferns and miners lettuce Plus a fair bit of other garden annuals including swish chard growing around native lupines.

    These are the native plants that I have planted in the bed: Nootka rose, native lupines (3 different types), mock orange, red-flowering currant, snowberry, osoberry, woodland sedge, sword fern, salal, miners lettuce (two native types), tall Oregon grape, cascara, low Oregon grape, Rattlesnake orchid, piggy-back plant, Pacific waterleaf, yarrow, and coastal strawberry. As far as garden vegetables go I have: Orach, bush beans, peas, tomato, broccoli, cilantro, lettuce, swish chard, and kale. I also have some mixed non-native flowers planted from seed and a couple summer bulbs in a few areas.

    The attached pictures show what it all looked like a couple weeks ago - things have grown a fair bit since then. You can see the double deer fence that I have around the bed - so far it is working great and I have had no deer issues. Before I put up the fence they were walking over the bed to get into my property. I will post more about the deer fence later (fencing my whole property) but I want to wait until I have it all completed. The surrounding grass is a bit out of control but most of it will be mulched by this time next year.

    As far as the headaches go... One unexpected headache has been robins. I did not plan for them to scratch up the hugel bed so much - they love hunting for worms and other critters in the mulch. Apparently, they find a lot since whole flocks were showing up and a pair set up a nest in a near by tree and forage from the bed on a daily basis. As the plants have grown this has stopped being an issue but at first I had to daily move mulch off my little seedlings that the robins had kicked around. The robins leave fairly good size depressions in the mulch - and with the steepness of the beds the mulch was falling down from the top onto the plants below. But now with the plants growing this is not a huge issue - but it did make things challenging early on.

    The other headache has been the loss of a few plants but overall I'm having very good survival. I lost a couple mock oranges, a couple snowberries and a couple red-flowering currants. But overall the plants are doing great - I plan on replacing those I lost with blue or red elderberry in order to add more diversity to the hugel bed. The snowberries will be placed by new snowberry live stakes in the fall.

    A bit of poor planning on my part - I planted a lot of shade loving plants on the north side of the bed without taking into account that until the sun loving plants grew bigger there would not be a lot of shade even on the north side of the bed. So far the shade loving plants are dealing with this okay but seem stressed. Luckily the bed is staying very moist despite some this month being so dry and hot compared to normal.

    Other issue has been that working on the deer fence around my property is preventing me from focusing on the area around the hugel bed. This is why the grass is getting a bit out of control. Dealing with the deer is proving more difficult and time intensive than I expected but I'm almost done with the fence and I'm already planning on planting a hedgerow along it to make the fence even more effective overtime. I hope to have the fence finished by the end of the month and then I can focus on getting the grass mulched so I can plant in it next fall/spring.

    But I'm very happy with how the hugel bed is doing - especially since this is its first year. I will share pictures of my other large hugel bed that is just entering its second year later. Both are doing great and now without the deer browse issue the plants are growing really fast.
    hugel-bed-update-east.jpg
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    Looking east at the hugel bed
    hugel-bed-update-south.jpg
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    Looking south at the hugel bed
    hugel-bed-update-southeast.jpg
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    Looking south east at the hugel bed
    hugel-bed-update-west.jpg
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    Looking west at the hugel bed
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    A bit of poor planning on my part - I planted a lot of shade loving plants on the north side of the bed without taking into account that until the sun loving plants grew bigger there would not be a lot of shade even on the north side of the bed. So far the shade loving plants are dealing with this okay but seem stressed. Luckily the bed is staying very moist despite some this month being so dry and hot compared to normal.



    I did that, too! My plants really started struggling, so I took conifer branches and stuck them upright in the hugel to shade the plants. This works much better with something that doesn't lose it's needles really quickly (i.e. western hemlock branches STINK at this). Another thing I did was make little wattle fences just south of each plant that needed it, to shade them during the hottest/sunniest part of the day. This really saved my plants!
     
    Daron Williams
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:I did that, too! My plants really started struggling, so I took conifer branches and stuck them upright in the hugel to shade the plants. This works much better with something that doesn't lose it's needles really quickly (i.e. western hemlock branches STINK at this). Another thing I did was make little wattle fences just south of each plant that needed it, to shade them during the hottest/sunniest part of the day. This really saved my plants!



    Thanks for the tip! I will have to give that a try - Pacific waterleaf does not like the sun but under shade conditions it spreads rapidly and forms a great ground cover and it is native here in Western WA

    Another awesome thing about Pacific waterleaf is that it is edible! Both the leaves and the roots (yellow new roots are better - old roots get woody). I tried a bit and the leaves taste good raw - have not tried cooking it yet as a spinach substitute but it is supposed to work well. Combine this with miners lettuce and you have a good crop of greens that can handle full shade and is native
     
    Daron Williams
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    The hugel bed I have been sharing on here is connected to one that I built last year. It got hit by deer fairly hard but is really growing great now and is recovering nicely. I also added a bunch of new plants to it this year to help fill it in. All together the new and old hugel beds reach 230 feet in length - one day I will have a nice hedgerow all along this part of my property.



    This picture is taken near the bottom corner of the first hugel bed looking northwest towards my house and the new hugel bed. The lupines are doing great and I'm really happy with them. This section got hit the hardest by deer so the shrubs are a little small but putting on a lot of growth. I have serviceberries, elderberries and red-flowering currants here plus some seaberries. This year I added osoberries, Nootka rose, tall Oregon grape and mock orange to the mix.

    The wires are my deer fence. It consists of u-posts and electrical wire (but not electrified) - there are two parallel fences with a short one in the front and a tall one in the back. Not the best looking but has proven very effective at stopping the deer. Once the hedgerow grows and gets thicker I will take the fences down. They were a very cheap way of building a deer fence and I will reuse the wires and u-posts on future projects.



    Moving along the hugel bed still looking towards the northwest - this section saw less deer browse and the shrubs are much bigger. I'm hoping the lupines will fill in a bit more here but the clover is covering a lot of it which might make it harder for the lupines. I may end up removing some of the clover to make room for other plants... I have planted some peas and bush beans in this area on the north side which is a little more bare but filling in. The native coastal strawberries are spreading very rapidly!

    The wood in the background will be used for future hugel beds and other projects. I have a lot of large hugel bed projects planned for the next couple years. First one will be around a new patio I'm building and the others will be my new garden beds which I will start late this year or next year.



    For comparison - this is what the same area as the second picture looked like when I just finished planting last year.



    This is what the area looked like right before I started to build the hugel bed - the bed is partially sunken so I could get through the compacted surface. The area was used as a parking lot by the neighbors before I bought the property. I still use the area to store woody debris and other material I use for projects and there is a rope gate that I will be replacing with a DIY gate soon.

    I used the excavator to dig the trench for the hugel bed - the ground was so hard there was no way to do it by hand. At least not in the time frame I had for the project.

     
    Daron Williams
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    I thought it was time to post an update about the hugel bed hedgerow. Overall it has been doing great though some of my seeds did not work out and I had some deer issues which resulted in most of my beans being eaten. One young deer kept getting past my fences so I ended up having to add more wires to make the gaps smaller (the deer is not full grown) and I added a bunch of branches along the outside edge to keep the deer from pushing through the wires. For almost two weeks this has worked and the deer seems to have moved on - before I finished improving the fence it was coming in on a nightly basis!

    Right now the hugel bed is dominated by annuals and herbaceous perennials but the shrubs are growing great and I expect them to become much more prevalent next year. The deer did munch on my cascara trees so I may have to replace them depending on if they can recover. They got hit hard but when that happened to some last year they recovered fairly well so I'm hopeful.

    Despite the deer issue and some of my seeds not growing well I'm happy with the progress the hugel bed is making and the flowers look great! Plus I'm getting a bunch of greens from it with orach being my new favorite!

    Hope you all enjoy the pictures!
    whole-hugel-bed-deer-fence.jpg
    [Thumbnail for whole-hugel-bed-deer-fence.jpg]
    Hugel bed is filling in!
    flowers-and-vegetables.jpg
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    Love having a mix of flowers and vegetables
    flowers-with-chard.jpg
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    More flowers with vegetables! There are also native shrubs in this bed.
    mix-vegies-flowers-others.jpg
    [Thumbnail for mix-vegies-flowers-others.jpg]
    Really enjoying have a diversity of plants in this bed! Looking forward to seeing it change over the next few years!
     
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    Wow! That's fantastic. It is so full of life. Thank you for posting this.
    Brian
     
    Daron Williams
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    Brian Rodgers wrote:Wow! That's fantastic. It is so full of life. Thank you for posting this.
    Brian



    You are welcomed! I'm really enjoying watching the new hugel bed change and grow over time. A couple of the large shrubs died so I'm going to replace them in the fall/winter.

    Next step is to create a buffer at the base of the hugel bed to keep the grass out. That should also help the cascara trees do better.
     
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    Wow is right!  Very inspirational.  I appreciate the "before and after" pics and knowing you'll do another update... and another and another... :)

     
    Daron Williams
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    Sonja Draven wrote:Wow is right!  Very inspirational.  I appreciate the "before and after" pics and knowing you'll do another update... and another and another...



    Thank you! I'm happy to hear that you are enjoying the updates!
     
    Brian Rodgers
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    Daron Williams wrote:

    You are welcomed! I'm really enjoying watching the new hugel bed change and grow over time. A couple of the large shrubs died so I'm going to replace them in the fall/winter.

    Next step is to create a buffer at the base of the hugel bed to keep the grass out. That should also help the cascara trees do better.


    Looking forward to seeing how a buffer is created.
    I am trying to get healed from an autoimmune disease and scoliosis, which is working, but this disease has me running about 50% efficiency. I do most of my projects by hand and will start by designing a Hugelbed where our garden used to be. I need to plan more in our yard as the weather gets more erratic and unpredictable. I'm considering doing my hugel on a northern slope here at the edge of  the forest in NM. I'm thinking I can build a rock wall on the low side to simulate the trench of a hugel bed. This year our climate is utter drought, combined with New Mexico winds, evaporation is my #1 concern. Has this been done? Perhaps because of the winds bedrock is inches below the surface, hence not wanting to dig much, grins.
    Brian  
     
    Daron Williams
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    Brian Rodgers wrote:Looking forward to seeing how a buffer is created.
    I am trying to get healed from an autoimmune disease and scoliosis, which is working, but this disease has me running about 50% efficiency. I do most of my projects by hand and will start by designing a Hugelbed where our garden used to be. I need to plan more in our yard as the weather gets more erratic and unpredictable. I'm considering doing my hugel on a northern slope here at the edge of  the forest in NM. I'm thinking I can build a rock wall on the low side to simulate the trench of a hugel bed. This year our climate is utter drought, combined with New Mexico winds, evaporation is my #1 concern. Has this been done? Perhaps because of the winds bedrock is inches below the surface, hence not wanting to dig much, grins.
    Brian



    The buffer will just be cardboard on the grass with wood chips placed on top. I will add small logs to create a physical barrier on one side to help people know where not to walk. The cardboard and wood chips will kill the grass and it will all breakdown into nice soil. I have had good luck using cardboard and wood chips to get rid of grass - though it is best to remove any tape from the cardboard first.

    Some people have had issues with hugel beds drying out in hot dry areas - the same thing would happen with any raised bed. If the hugel bed is partly below ground level then it will stay more moist but as you said you area does not have much soil before the bedrock so that does not really help. Adding rocks along the sides could help but I would make them thick enough that they would actually buffer the hugel bed against the winds.

    There is a concept called an air well that could be combined with a hugel bed by using rocks on the sunny side. You can read about air wells here: https://permies.com/t/airwell The most basic type of air well is a pile of rocks. The outer rocks that are exposed to the sun get hot while the inner rocks stay cool. When the hot air blows through the rock pile and hits the cool rocks the air cools and some of the water in it condenses out - the larger the pile of rocks the more condensation you will get. The rock pile needs to have room for air to move through it so a pile of gravel or small rocks would not work as well as larger more jagged rocks. The larger rocks would have more air pockets between them resulting in more opportunity for the air to move through and the water to condense out.

    I'm thinking about adding rock piles that are at least 3 layers thick around my property for critter habitat and also to serve as little air wells.

    Hope that helps!
     
    Brian Rodgers
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    Daron Williams wrote:

    The buffer will just be cardboard on the grass with wood chips placed on top. I will add small logs to create a physical barrier on one side to help people know where not to walk. The cardboard and wood chips will kill the grass and it will all breakdown into nice soil. I have had good luck using cardboard and wood chips to get rid of grass - though it is best to remove any tape from the cardboard first.
    I see, thank you. We finally got some rain yahoo! For a bit there I thought we were doomed to burn up. Are you chipping your own wood? What type of wood works well? Do we want a pine like Ponderosa which rots faster than a Cedar?  

    Some people have had issues with hugel beds drying out in hot dry areas - the same thing would happen with any raised bed. If the hugel bed is partly below ground level then it will stay more moist but as you said you area does not have much soil before the bedrock so that does not really help. Adding rocks along the sides could help but I would make them thick enough that they would actually buffer the hugel bed against the winds.
    In the area where I would like to do the Hugel bed the topsoil is thin, as the north facing 8° slope drops down toward pasture the soil gets deep. Perhaps an alternative might be, to building a rock wall could be adding some dirt from the bottom of a dry-wash pond further down the hill and building up the lower edge of the Hugel?   

    There is a concept called an air well that could be combined with a hugel bed by using rocks on the sunny side. You can read about air wells here: https://permies.com/t/airwell The most basic type of air well is a pile of rocks. The outer rocks that are exposed to the sun get hot while the inner rocks stay cool. When the hot air blows through the rock pile and hits the cool rocks the air cools and some of the water in it condenses out - the larger the pile of rocks the more condensation you will get. The rock pile needs to have room for air to move through it so a pile of gravel or small rocks would not work as well as larger more jagged rocks. The larger rocks would have more air pockets between them resulting in more opportunity for the air to move through and the water to condense out.
    Wow the Air well concept is incredible, I will keep reading on that, thank you for sharing that.
    I'm thinking about adding rock piles that are at least 3 layers thick around my property for critter habitat and also to serve as little air wells.
    You've given me a lot of food for thought here. My north facing slope doesn't seem to be ideal for an air well.  The other side of our house has the south facing slope, also about 8° so perhaps I can work something up there for an air well. Thank you so much!

    Hope that helps!

     
    Daron Williams
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    My property has very few trees on it so I have not been able to make my own wood chips. I have found two places in my area where I can get free wood chips whenever I need them - one is a tree service company and another is a compost facility. The tree service company has a u-load/haul wood chip area that I have gone to a lot but recently I discovered the compost facility which has large size wood chips and small fine wood chips for free. The compost facility loads the chips for me but I have to haul them.

    I tend to use what ever type of wood chips I can get. People tend to shy away from cedar chips out of concern that they will reduce plant growth but so far I have not had this issue. But annual vegetables may be impacted more than the perennials I have been planting. In the hugel bed I shared in this thread the wood chips were mostly from trees like Douglas fir. A big benefit of wood chips is that they shade the soil and reduce evaporation but as they breakdown they also improve and build your soil. Cedar chips are going to take a lot longer to break down so they won't quickly improve your soil.

    Adding more soil to the lower edges won't hurt - the outer edge will still likely dry out but the further you get away from the edge into the core of the hugel bed it should stay relatively moist. I like to put rocks or logs on the edges of my beds to help hold the mulch/soil in place but also provide some cover to hold moisture in. But if you put down a thick mulch your bed will stay fairly moist and hugel beds because of all the wood in them tend to be fairly drought resistant.

    Good luck with your project!
     
    Daron Williams
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    I thought I would share another picture of the hugel bed that really shows all the poppies and other flowers that are now blooming. I really love coming home and seeing this view as I pull into my driveway!
    hugel-bed-flowers.jpg
    [Thumbnail for hugel-bed-flowers.jpg]
    Lots of flowers in the hugel bed!
     
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    Your hugel beds are beautiful!

    One edible plant that does well on the top of a hugelbed (which can be dry) is the daylily.  You can eat daylilies, I particularly like the petals.
     
    Daron Williams
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    Julia Winter wrote:Your hugel beds are beautiful!

    One edible plant that does well on the top of a hugelbed (which can be dry) is the daylily.  You can eat daylilies, I particularly like the petals.



    Thank you! I will have to look up some daylilies - I really want to add bulbs to the hugel beds. I have not added that layer yet - waiting till I'm done with any digging. There are some native lilies for western Washington that are edible that I have thought about too. Do you have a favorite variety of daylily? Are some better for eating than others?
     
    Julia Winter
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    Camas lilies are native and edible, though they'd be better at the bottom of a hugel - they are that very unusual bulb that doesn't mind the damp.

    I haven't noticed a difference between daylilies in taste - the petals are mild and sweetish, also cucumber-ish in taste.  I like having a variety of colors, the most common daylily color - bright orange - can clash with other colors, although I suppose it goes well with calendula, which is another useful flower (edible petals will also color soap very nicely).
     
    Daron Williams
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    Thanks for the reminder about camas - I really like those. It would be fun to plant them along the base of my hugel beds.
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    The year I planted camas, I didn't have a cat, and the bunnies ate all the camas

    Maybe I'll try again next spring, now that we have two cats that keep the bunnies in check.
     
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