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Weathering time for hugelkulter

 
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When I make hugel beds, should I make them in the fall so that they could 'charge' from the winter precipitation then plant them in the following spring? What is the optimal amount of precipitation for a hugel bed in a year? Is there a point that there is too much precipitation or would I simply need to put rocks or gravel under the logs to help them drain the excess water? Finally, should I wait until the logs are weathered such that the nitrogen levels are higher? or, should I add extra manure to the soil?
 
gardener
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Location: Western Washington
184
duck forest garden personal care rabbit bee homestead
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Where are you located?

A lot of people recommend waiting to plant in a hugelbed until it's settled for a while. I'm miserly (maybe frugal is a better word?) and I couldn't bear to waste the time, materials, and space by not planting into it right away. They did fantastically well. I feel like planting into it actually helped the bed to settle down in a way, and because I had plants in it, I was better about watering and keeping it mulched through the season.

I don't know what the optimal amount of precipitation is for them. My hugelbeds help control and drain excess water, which is a plus.

I wouldn't bother waiting for the logs to be that weathered, because depending on their current condition, that won't be for a long time, and the bed should grow fine in the meantime. I mulch with rabbit bedding at the beginning and middle of the season, and with grass clippings, weeds, etc all the time. When I feel like it/remember to I add compost teas of various kinds. I keep an eye on the plants to watch for nitrogen shortages but haven't noticed any problems.
 
pollinator
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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hugelkultur forest garden trees urban
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By default hugelbeds drain excess water very well at the same time conserve moisture.  At the top of the bed/mount, it will be naturally dryer at the top than the lower levels, so plant accordingly depending on the plant type.  As the wood settles, you might need to add more dirt/soil/mulch to fill in any gaps throughout the year.  The more mulch you have the sooner you can plant your regular plants into it.  Some people like to give their hugelbeds a year to settle before planting into it.  It depends on the plants you want to plant in it. Some I would plant right away and others wait.  Maybe you can publish some photos so we can see it and provide more details as to the type of plants you want.  Plus, what zone you are in and what region you live.   Is your soil clay or sandy?   There are so many factures that have an impact.
 
Phil Clove
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I haven't purchased the land yet. Though, I am looking in northwest Oregon, which is zone 8b. The reason I was asking about the drainage was that the precipitation is 80 inches a year there.
 
Michelle Bisson
pollinator
Posts: 309
Location: Quebec, Canada
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hugelkultur forest garden trees urban
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Hugelculture is a great way to control moisture whether you have too much rain or not enough.  At the bottom, put your rain loving plants and your more drought tolerant plants.  At the same time, consider your your plants in general.  If you put desert plants in your driest part of your hugelbed, it may still be too much moisture at 80"/year.  So in general, you will plant moisture loving plants adapted to your climate & soil type.
 
James Landreth
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Location: Western Washington
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Hi Phil,
I live close by to that area and get about 70 inches a year. Hugelbeds are great because they drain the excess water when it rains a lot (in my experience) and they hold it very well during the dry season. They're fantastic for dealing with our wet and dry seasons and the challenges that both provide. As I said, I'd just plant right into them after building. They might not produce quite as well as waiting but in my experience they still do great the first year, if well built.
 
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