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Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur article thread  RSS feed

 
Posts: 1125
Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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chicken dog hugelkultur
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in podcast 152 i heard mention of a REALLY COOL type of fungi that makes hugelkultur last 500 years, can anyone tell me where i can order this?
 
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Devon, I haven't heard the podcast, but think I know what you are talking about. It's not the fungus that lasts 500 years but the product of decomposition from a rather large group of fungi - the Brown Rotters. These tend to eat the wood cellulose, leaving a very un-digestable lignin behind. This is what folks call brown cubical rot. This stuff has an extremely high water holding capacity and is an imprortant element in western forests. I've got a few papers on the topic if you are interested.
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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i am definately interested if your ok with sharing!
brown rotter is definately what he mentioned, in fact i think it was YOU he mentioned:D
but yes i would love to learn more about these, they seem like a great thing to get some spores for eventually:)
 
Mark Vander Meer
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You might be better off collecting the lignified wood from a forest setting. Just keep in mind the forest needs this stuff as much as you do.

There are many different types of brown rots, most prey on the heart wood rather than the sap wood.
 
Devon Olsen
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so theres no place you know of that i could order some spores or something from?
regardless i still think it would be good information to have those papers if youre still ok with sharing them that is...
 
Posts: 484
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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Have read through this and not seen anything specific to the question I have. On the 10 acres I bought there are a few slash piles partially decomposed about 5-10 years old. It is a mix of Jack Pine and Poplar. The piles are partially shaded by new growth from 10-15' tall of young Poplar but the pile creats a bit of an opening. I can access black muck from a swampy area for soil topcover. I plan on starting a few cold hardy apple trees on each pile but would like some productivity right away. I live in frost zone 2a. What would be good options for immediate productivity and wondering what kind of succession would be good year to year in these conditions.
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1125
Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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chicken dog hugelkultur
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^the piles of slash should work just fine for hugelbeds
they settle a bit every year as they mature so from what i understand it isnt a great idea to plant trees on top of them, but right next to them seems to work well, also gives you a mound to climb when harvesting from the tall fruit tree limbs
 
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Is radiata pine suitable for hugleculture?
Does it need to rot years first?
Is it too acidic?
Is radiata pine too anti microbial?
If so, Can it be remedied?
 
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Hi everybody! I'm new in this forum. I'm italian, my english is very poor, I hope you understand me. I start to grow vegetables 12 years ago with organic method, then with biodinamc method and now with Fukuoka and Emilia Hazelip and Bill Mollison method. I'm more and more interested to permaculture. I made some outside bed with soil (not wood inside) like this, without irrigation and they are working well: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3383842313836&set=oa.329020683775197&type=1&theater
This hugelkultur is very interesting. I would like to try. I have a question: I have a lot of branches of eucalyptus, it is good to build a hugekultur? Thank you for your kind answer, sending you a lot of love from Italy
 
pollinator
Posts: 1454
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Hi Raffaella! I love your photo album. I don't know about the eucalyptus, after a quick search it seems that they might be allelopathic. I don't have eucalyptus though - someone else might know for sure. And welcome to the forum!
 
Posts: 400
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Here's the hugelbeet so far this year. Spuds, lettuce and squash are coming along well. Beans just getting started. Got most of it in pretty late, and have been lax with weed control. But I'm quite encouraged at this point. Already have observed earthworms doing their work, and also discovered an ant nest in the bed. I'm thinking this fall I may pre-seed certain things to get a jump on the season. I'm going to build at least one more this fall.
2012hugelB.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2012hugelB.jpg]
2012hugelA.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2012hugelA.jpg]
 
Posts: 8
Location: South West Iowa
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I think that I am already permaculturally warped. I drive by a highway expansion project every weekday. The construction crew just finished ripping up a long row of fairly large trees. My first thought was that it probably was not necessary to remove the trees. Then after seeing the humongous pile of trees, I thought it would all make a marvelously large hugelculture bed, perhaps in a community garden somewhere. I'd love to go into the work site and haul away some of the stuff, but public access is usually not allowed for such projects (I think). They'll probably haul the trees off to burn or for a land fill. Sigh.....
 
Posts: 3
Location: The Bluegrass
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I'm not sure if anyone has discussed this yet, but does anyone know if using enginerred lumber would be ok in a hugel bed. I work in a place where i can get heaps of it for free. It's mostly I-Joist material and a few pieces of glu-lam LVL thrown in.
 
master pollinator
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Personally I'd be concerned about the glues used, which may contain formaldehyde, phenol, melamine and polyurethane. I definitely wouldn't use them for growing food. You might want to research the adhesives before making a decision about using engineered lumber.

 
John La Plante
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Location: The Bluegrass
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I know that they use industrial grade adhesives. Not to sure of the chemical make-up of it tho. I was just wondering if anyone might have tried using anything of the sort and what kind of results they might have had.
 
Max Kennedy
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They are mostly industrial versions of polyurethane glues or formaldhydes and most, not all, have anti bacterial and antifungal components added. These include things like PRF – Phenol Resorcinol Formaldehyde, RF – Resorcinol Formaldehyde, MF – Melamine Formaldehyde, MUF/MURF – Melamine Urea, Formaldehyde/Melamine Urea Resorcinol Formaldehyde. Not exactly good for the soil. Will degrade over time but I wouldn't want to use that area for at least a decade.
 
John La Plante
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Location: The Bluegrass
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Ok, How about wood types? Does anyone know if Osage Orange(aka Hedgeapple) wood is ok for use in a hugel bed. It's totally useless for wood burning and it's plentiful around here.
 
Posts: 288
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I'm really under the understanding that almost any wood (tree type, obviously pressure treated is a no no) will do for Hugel, unless its green and re-sprouts you should be fine. Use what you have
 
Posts: 57
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paul wheaton wrote:This thread is for discussion of this web page





i have sent people to wheaton's site on hugelkultur many times and will continue to do so. thanks so much for the contributions. but i'm still left with a growing issue for me. how does mineral matter in subsoils make its way into the upper regions of a hugelkultur bed? organic-rich topsoils contain around 6 percent organic matter. one thing i've learned over the years is the importance of mineral components -- compost isn't a cure-all by any stretch. nutrient cycling will depend on access to the soil parent material.

yes, i know that taproots and other deep-rooted perennials will access spaces under logs, but how much is enough? how many years until they do so? which ones are efficient at doing so? there is very little discussion around the need for mineral matter in raised beds of 5 or 6 feet tall..

as someone who makes soil where there isn't i run up against the difficulty of balancing composition. sheet composting and hugelkultur have been frequent approaches, but this is a lot of organic matter to place upon dense material like wood. im happy with everything ive made thus far but i'm always seeking ways to improve upon my gardening.
 
Tyler Ludens
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frank larue wrote: how does mineral matter in subsoils make its way into the upper regions of a hugelkultur bed?



Could worms bring it up?

 
Victor Johanson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

frank larue wrote: how does mineral matter in subsoils make its way into the upper regions of a hugelkultur bed?



Could worms bring it up?



That's' what I was thinking. I've found worms at the top of mine already, and it was just created last fall.
 
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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Victor Johanson wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:

frank larue wrote: how does mineral matter in subsoils make its way into the upper regions of a hugelkultur bed?



Could worms bring it up?



That's' what I was thinking. I've found worms at the top of mine already, and it was just created last fall.



There's a lot of ways the minerals are moved from below to above:
Fungal Transport - some types of fungus can transport minerals from mineral rich areas to deficient areas meters away.
Deep Rooted Accumulators - a lot of "weeds" have very deep root systems which absorb minerals and then distribute them to various parts of the plant as needed. When the plant goes through its natural cycle these minerals are then released.
"Critter" Activity - this ranges from small nematodes and microbes to worms and beetles on up to mice, snakes and other large burrowers. All of these creatures process and turn over the soil as they go about their everyday life. Many of these smaller organisms (think magnifying glass and smaller) make the minerals available through their digestion processes.

These are some major ones, I'm sure there's plenty of other processes going on that we haven't observed or don't understand.

A great read if you're interested in these kinds of things is Teeming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.

 
frank larue
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Michael Newby wrote:

Victor Johanson wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:

frank larue wrote: how does mineral matter in subsoils make its way into the upper regions of a hugelkultur bed?



Could worms bring it up?




These are some major ones, I'm sure there's plenty of other processes going on that we haven't observed or don't understand.

A great read if you're interested in these kinds of things is Teeming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.




thanks for the input yall, i have read teeming with microbes and recommend it often. the issue for me though stems from an urban position. im a part of a small band of city farmers that help communities get spaces up and running. we urge (as best stout egalitarians can) people to design collective beds over individual plots and building soil. the trouble is, brooklyn is one big brownfield, whose patchwork is less distinguished by clean and unsafe growing conditions and more a question of what myriad contaminants can be found. soil remediation has been a key activity for us, and hugelkultur beds are ideal structures for mycoremediation. this is a little tangential but i'd love to speak with yall more about it.

often there is no soil where we work and we are vehemently opposed to acquiring soil from somewhere else. if it actually is any good, it has been taken at the expense of another location. we have no interest in perpetuating the process of funneling resources to cities. this leaves us with a predicament. hugelkultur beds with sheet composting on top produces a lot of organic matter. our projects have worked well thus far but my nominal research into soil sciences tells me we are missing key components to long-term system stability. we have access to rock powders from stone masons here in brooklyn and are always eager to break up the concreted below (not asphalt) to push the way toward new parent material. what i was wondering, is where would mineral matter go in a bed with little or no soil? below the logs to be taken up by life? between the 20" sheet compost layers and the logs? some combination of the two?

perhaps another tangential thought id love for us to discuss is how to create soil.

 
pollinator
Posts: 367
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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frank larue wrote:
i have sent people to wheaton's site on hugelkultur many times and will continue to do so. thanks so much for the contributions. but i'm still left with a growing issue for me. how does mineral matter in subsoils make its way into the upper regions of a hugelkultur bed? organic-rich topsoils contain around 6 percent organic matter. one thing i've learned over the years is the importance of mineral components -- compost isn't a cure-all by any stretch. nutrient cycling will depend on access to the soil parent material.

yes, i know that taproots and other deep-rooted perennials will access spaces under logs, but how much is enough? how many years until they do so? which ones are efficient at doing so? there is very little discussion around the need for mineral matter in raised beds of 5 or 6 feet tall..

as someone who makes soil where there isn't i run up against the difficulty of balancing composition. sheet composting and hugelkultur have been frequent approaches, but this is a lot of organic matter to place upon dense material like wood. im happy with everything ive made thus far but i'm always seeking ways to improve upon my gardening.



Alfalfa is the #1 that I've heard of. It's a perennial (if you don't chop it down the first year) and its roots can go 50ft deep (more than enough for a 6ft hugel bed). They're also tough enough to drill through hardpan, so I wouldn't be too worried about them being obstructed by wood. The fact that they're legumes (same innoculant as clover) doesn't hurt either.

EDIT: Forgot this, but once established they can be harvested for green manure 3-4 times per year.
 
David Miller
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Agreed on the alfalfa, I have a raised bed with nothing but clay and hardpan under that. Last year I planted alfalfa into the bed and have since been chopping the top of the bed with hedge trimmers allowing the droppings to fall between the plants. The bed is doing better, it has accumulated about an inch of wonderful dark organic material that the worms are dragging into the clay. It may take a while but I think with greensand additions I may be able to bring this bed "back to life".
 
frank larue
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thanks everyone for the ideas! i have 5 pounds of alfalfa seeds but have been reluctant to use them. i suppose if you dont let a lot of it go to seed you can manage well enough?
 
Marc Troyka
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frank larue wrote:thanks everyone for the ideas! i have 5 pounds of alfalfa seeds but have been reluctant to use them. i suppose if you dont let a lot of it go to seed you can manage well enough?



Not a problem. Alfalfa is autotoxic, meaning it won't sprout where alfalfa is already established. I don't think alfalfa seed is spread by birds either. It's not really noxious or invasive AFAIK.

Keep in mind you'll want to sow it the first time just as thick as you want it to grow, though, since you'll have a real hard time getting more to grow later.
 
pollinator
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In a recent email correspondance, Paul suggested that I post an observation I made to him to the forums, and as it's about hugelkultur, I can't think of a better place.

I have apparently been using the elements of hugelkultur in building my garden beds for a decade or more. The funny thing is, I had no idea anyone else was doing anything like it. I had done some reading on ancient agricultural practices, and came upon what must have been a variant of hugelkultur, though the term never came up, but from the Vistula river valley and other parts of what has been thought of as Poland for over a thousand years. Basically, a pit was dug to the subsoil or deeper, and woody duff and wood of all sizes was added, and animal manure or butchering leftovers, plant wastes, fish wastes from fishing, whatever was available, layered up in a mound in alternating layers and covered over with dirt, then planted with some deep-rooted tuber and other plants that would grow together, although my reading in that area stopped before finding many useful plant lists, but one could make educated guesses from traditional meals and the climate local to the method's point of origin, but potatoes would likely be used today, and I think I'd try corn or sunflowers or both, along with some variety of pole bean and/or fava beans, and melons, cukes, squash, pumpkins, or whatever else you can fit in to the traditional Three Sisters formula.

In actual fact, I found parallels between some Pacific Northwest (I think, anyway) traditional aboriginal agricultural practices involving the same type of mound building, but usually using salmon as the animal component, or salmon offal, and planting the Three Sisters, where I found the model I like best. It's like there was some kind of antehistorical (I think that's the term, meaning existing outside of the knowledge of history. If I'm making up words, please indulge me) travel and exchange of knowledge, or transfer, if the knowledge went one-way. Maybe the agricultural practice originated in North America and was brought over with maize and other new-world plants, or it could have as easily originated in eastern Europe and made its way west with any number of young european second sons who went native early on.

If anyone has opinion or information to offer on the matter, I'd be particularly interested in tossing thoughts about.

-CK
 
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My beds.

I'm in the Superior National Forest. We have trees, water n rocks. Nothing else. Thin soils led to a thin layer of soil on the bed. The second wasn't covered in time. I did use the sod technique so there is soil on there, I just wish I had put more on. The vegetation atop the beds is thin and won't grow tall. The sides are delish. The combo of "too vertical" and thin soil led to a hole forming. Not sure if insects (bees) are using it as I have no motivation to watch a hole. I'm guessing you can turn a bed into a bee haven by using reeds atop the wood, under the dirt. Ill attempt this with the beds next year as I plan on running them another 50 or so feet. I tried to go 4ft wide, 4 ft high with the wood (birch n alder or poplar).

50-60 seeds, veggies, fruit, herbs. Willy nilly style. Between the beds are corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, basil.





The pics are posted on my Twitter feed : Twitter.com/ndrewonwhyterd
 
Mother Tree
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Frolf - I tweaked the post to make the photos show.
 
Frolf Lundgren
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Burra Maluca wrote:Frolf - I tweaked the post to make the photos show.



Thanks!
 
Chris Kott
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Love it! How old are they? I'm happy to hear from someone closer to my neck of the woods, if in a harsher place, doing this stuff and having success.
-CK
 
Frolf Lundgren
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Chris Kott wrote:Love it! How old are they? I'm happy to hear from someone closer to my neck of the woods, if in a harsher place, doing this stuff and having success.
-CK



I'm guessing 7-8 weeks. After five weeks I took down those surrounding birch; that tree in the upper left corner actually fell on the bed. It was a little scary but totally awesome at the same time. Crushed a few plants. I threw a layer or two of sod on it and it was fine. She's tough! I threw some seed there and a few bare areas.

I'm gonna turn this place into Hugelkulture Heaven. It's great for thin soil and cold weather.
 
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Can you guys help me out please?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWx6eV61Ahg
 
pollinator
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Here's a pic of an HK which the pigs have "explored"
HK disturbed by pigs></a>

The guy we bought the pigs from did mention that the parents were excellent diggers. They are also escape artists so plants outside the paddock aren't safe. They ripped out a blueberry plant which I was able to save, I think. The cages protecting newly planted trees keep getting knocked over. Revenge will be ...tasty.
 
Richard Gurry
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Can underground hugelkultur be used as a network of sponges for channeling water to specific areas?

http://youtu.be/MOOHFKO6Xcw

Please help me out. Thank you in advance!
 
Marc Troyka
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Richard Gurry wrote:Can underground hugelkultur be used as a network of sponges for channeling water to specific areas?

http://youtu.be/MOOHFKO6Xcw

Please help me out. Thank you in advance!



That, sir, is an awesome idea. The only problem I can see is that charred wood (depending on how deep it's charred) doesn't wick water like regular wood does (charcoal is hydrophobic). The deeper charred stuff you may have to use for biochar instead.

Also, kind of OT but what kind/species of grapes are you looking to grow?
 
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Richard,

You should probably do some tests with the type of wood and rot level you'd use.

Dry unrotted pine logs will only wick water up 2 - 3 inches, probably wick down forever,
never tested it sideways, but would imagine it wouldn't be too far.



 
pollinator
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I arrive from that page.... http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/

How funny is permaculture...
-> not moving the soil on one hand, no plowing...
-> and moving dirt with tractors on the other hand!

I have heard that BRF must never be buried, because...
-> all organic matters should be put ON TOP of the earth...
(like in nature process...)
-> and then other people bury logs....

-> I was told that all cucurb would rot if fresh manure was buried under dirt...
(because of the fungus disease that would spread)
-> and no problem to bury wood and manure! ?

In my place, almost all people have fungus problems that kill avocados and orange trees...
will they develop happily?
but I am gifted with a non clayey earth... (except that water is going away...)

But sure I will try, I already have the wood and a pile of branches.
I just have no soil to take from elsewhere, and no machine...
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Questions longing for answer please!

Anyone knows about using avocado wood?
There is I think a + and a -
I might be wrong...

- The leaves are allelopathic, but does this mean the wood also is?
- the wood is tender and not considered good for burning. So great, it will rot...

How deep should be preakly pears (opuntia), for not sprouting!!!
 
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