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Tropical Hugelkultur

Posts: 24
Location: Sedona, AZ & Koh, Chang, Thailand
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Please excuse me if my questions are answered elsewhere, I have searched and not found many of the answers.  

I have a couple of acres on Koh Chang in Thailand.  Soon it will be gently coerced from a flat banana/coconut plantation into a food forest.

There will be a well and piped water, but I would like to make use of Hugelkultur as it makes more sense to me.  Let nature run its course.

Considering that permaculture is partially about inputs (and hopefully local inputs), I would like to know if coconut husks are a good idea on the interior of a Hugelkultur mound
If yes, approximately what ratio of husks, to wood, to biochar would be optimal?  There are so many husks available, it would be nice to use them.

Secondly, as I have not done this before I have a few general questions:

• How does one stop the erosion of soil off the top of a new mound in the rainy season?  Guessing a fast-growing cover crop planted a few months prior?
• Do most permies build 3' of wood (or husks), with another 3' of soil? If so, is this generally done by hand? I have no access to machinery.
• On flat land, what are the main considerations for placement? wind?
• What is the best season to build? If it is the dry season for example, should the wood (or husks) be pre-soaked prior to adding the soil

Here is my land... anybody inspired to come live and help is very welcome

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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Hugelculture is all about holding water so it is available for plants in times of draught, so your idea of using it for the dry season is excellent.

Coconut Coir (the husks material) will need to be in a state of deterioration since it is inherently water repellent, but it will be a fine sponge once it has started the deterioration process.
As far as ratios of coir to wood to biochar, I would be less concerned with that and lay down my first layers of wood and use the coir mixed with char to stuff the open areas.
I would continue building this way until I had the hugel at a 4-6 foot height, then I would mix char with my cover material and seed with fast sprouting cover crop species that grow well in Thailand.

Erosion of soil on hugels is done by keeping the soil covered with growing plants, You would naturally want those established before the monsoons come.
I like to have a height of 5 feet for my hugels and I usually have one foot of soil/compost/char for the cap (covering).
If you have high winds, you would want to orient the hugels so they acted as wind blocks for planting wind sensitive plants in the lee area (where the wind is blocked well).
Hugels can be straight or curved, curved ones are best used for holding sunlight heat in, usually found in less tropical areas, but they might work to create a cooler space if you place the curve away from the light path .
I would try to build them while still in the dry season and if possible presoak the wood, if you have access to any fungi, slurries added during the build would be a great addition too.
The biggest thing will be to get the fresh soil covered in plants and growing well before the rains come.

That land is fantastic.

Simon Scott
Posts: 24
Location: Sedona, AZ & Koh, Chang, Thailand
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Redhawk, Thank you for taking the time to write a very helpful response.  I feel like I have a better grasp of things now.  You are always welcome.
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