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giant hugelkultur (12 feet tall) at basecamp  RSS feed

 
steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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We cut the slots into the upper log by eyeballing it.  With a torpedo level we discovered that neither of them were vertical.  One was off by two inches and one was off by one inch.   Further, they were not quite pointing at each other.  So I added some cuts so they were pointing at each other a bit better and the one of that was off from vertical by two inches was corrected to be off by just one inch.  So now they point at each other and they are off the same amount.    This means that if we carve the tabs according to gravity vertical, this will still work. 

Notice how we are working with a LOT of compound angles.   We aren't even trying to calculate the angles.   We're doing 95% guessing of what seems about right.   To compensate, we are allowing for about 3/4 of an inch of "slop" where the tab will be a bit smaller than the slot.  In the end, it turned out we had too much slop. 

I think that the next time we do this, we start with smaller slots knowing that we will botch them.   But once the poor slots are there, we can do a lot more measuring and eyeballing to make it 20 times better on corrective cuts. 

roundwood-upper-slot.jpg
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roundwood-left-slot.jpg
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paul wheaton
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The log is in place.

It looks like we took too much wood off the left side than we needed to.  Oh well. 

The right side looks like a really good fit!

That reminds me.   We did this in one attempt.   The log is heavy.  It took three of us to wrestle it up there.  So we wanted to just do it once.   Therefore, we put a lot of emphasis on having it fit the first attempt.  So when we were guessing stuff, we always erred on the side of making the tabs smaller and the slots bigger.

While the previous horizontal log needed some stomping to go into place, this one popped in without stomping.   And it needed a few shims to keep it from wiggling.

roundwood-joint-left.jpg
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roundwood-joint-right.jpg
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paul wheaton
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The steps carved into the log were a little small.    And when trying to come down without a handrail, it was a little spooky to make the leap off of the log and onto the highest step.   It was a little too far away and a little too small.   So on that highest step, we added a piece of 2x10 shaped into a bigger step.   It brought the step about 1.5 inches higher and made the landing zone FAR bigger!

Another issue is that I was carving the steps by eye, I made the middle step a little too low.   So the middle step has 2 2x8 chunks.   Now when you travel all three steps the spacing seems a bit more even.

hugelkultur-steps.jpg
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paul wheaton
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Here is what the whole thing looks like now. 

You can see what it looks like as you mount the steps.   And you can see what the angle of mounting looks like too.

roundwood-log-in-place.jpg
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hugelkultur-steps-mount.jpg
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hugelkultur-steps-slope.jpg
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From this reply in the Rocket Oven Pizza Party thread, we talked about two plants in our hugel berms. While these aren't photos from our place, they still show what's growing there.

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Thank you both, Matt and Pat - we sure enjoyed having you here and appreciate all your help setting up for the pizza!

Ah, yes, we do have what some call red valerian, though I've always called it Jupiter's beard or Centranthus ruber (Wikipedia link here) in the hugel berms.

(picture source)
It's not a true valerian, which is an herb that most know for it's medicinal properties; so this plant, which today I learned is edible, does not share true valerian properties.

The other (more prolific) red blossom in the hugel berms is from the "Ice Plant" Sedum spectabile - Boreau. (Plants For A Future link here).

(picture from pfaf.org link)
I knew this plant was a sedum and probably edible, but since the great folks in the tour identified it as such, I tried a leaf and was "meh" about the flavor and texture. The pollinators LOVE these blossoms and they can be covered in all kinds of insects in late summer. And this plant has survived several drought condition summers like a champ!



 
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