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Is it okay if you use wood that has been downed for a long time and is already decomposing when you are building a hugelkultur bed?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think already decomposing wood is the best for hugelkultur - rotten wood holds water much better than fresh wood. 

 
Travis Philp
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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It's ok, yes. Consider though that the older and more 'weathered' the wood is, the less nutrients it will hold within it. However, it will release those nutrients quicker the older that it is.
 
William Roan
Posts: 40
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Hey hugelkulturelists
Old wood is very useful in establishing Mycelium fungus in your berm, See June 6 2011 posting “The science of Hugelkulture”. In my experiments, I’m finding that the mycelium grows faster and thicker if you put  a layer of cardboard into your swale first and then lay the old wood on top. The wet cardboard in contact with the old wood seems to act as a grow surface for the mold.
Think of the mold as a giant “Slip-n-slide”, semi-permeable membrane that collects rain water and nutrients as it percolated through the soil. As new plants germinate and put out roots, the fungus encapsulates the roots and helps funnel all those percolating nutrients and water straight to the plants.
It’s best to establish a polyculture garden and have different plants growing next to each other. If one plant produces a toxin, that will help fight off an insect attack, it may very well share the toxin with the plant next to it. A plant will exchange sugars and complex compounds with its roots, in exchange the roots supply the plants with minerals, water and other compounds found in the surrounding soil (and mycelium fungus). If the roots are dumping the excess complex compounds out into the fungal “Slip-n-slide”, then it becomes available to the surrounding plants.
It doesn’t matter how much nutrition the wood is giving off, your plants will get the nutrition from the rotting green and brown waste that you have added to the mound.
The important thing that I see as I peek into my experimental mounds is the foot print of your logs. I cut my logs into 12 inch slabs about 20 inches across. 10 weeks after laying them on wet cardboard and then covering them, I am seeing half of the bottoms covered with a thick growth of mycelium.
If I had laid the whole log on its side, the foot print, I believe would be the length and width of the log, making a true solid mycelium slip-n-slide.
We need other folks to open up their Hugelkulture mound and report back to all of us what they are finding. Especially those that lay their wood on cardboard and those that don’t. That way we can compile enough information to make an educated guess on what’s happening and not just a blind opinion.
 
                        
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I am reading about permaculture and am ready to start some hugelkulture.  My land is covered with eastern red cedar trees.  I have read that there are some benefits to having them, but there are just too many.  Are these trees okay to use for hugelkulture?  I have read that they make the soil very akaline, but I also read on this forum that someone had success with blueberries planted around them (and blueberries like acidic soil).  Also, these trees do not decompose as readily as most wood.  Any ideas would be most appreciated.

Thanks
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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a great choice
 
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