Phillip Stuckemeyer

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since Feb 03, 2018
Retired Navy, Nuclear-Trained Submarine Electrical Operator. Automated Process Control and Building Automation & Control Specialist.
South East Missouri
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Recent posts by Phillip Stuckemeyer

I fear that I am watering too much.  Is that possible?  I have a hugelkultur mound that is 2 years old (second growing season) and about 3 foot in depth.  The gray water from my home continuously floods the hugelkultur mound from beneath.  I also water with Rainwater or well water twice a day for 10 minutes from a sprinkler mounted overhead.  My berries, melons and tomatoes are planted in the ground, and are also sprinkled with Rain or well water twice each day for 10 minutes each time.  The black/blue berries get water from a soaker hose while the melons / tomatoes get a sprinkler.  Is it possible that I am watering the plants too much?  Please advise.  I collect and store about 3000 gallons of rain water, and have a deep well.  Only blackwater is sent to the septic system.  All the gray water goes to the planting beds.  I have plenty of water, so I am not concerned about conserving water that much, but want to do what is best for the plants.
1 week ago
I used a layer of plastic in the pond beneath the mound only because I want to retain the water rather than watching it soak through the ground and into the pond.  The way that the system will gravity feed from one mound to another is that the ponds overflow when they are full.  If I did not use the plastic barrier, I am afraid that the lower level mounds would never get any of the gray water.  This may not be necessary since I have a lot of clay in the soil, but I had to design it somehow, and so that is the decision that I made.  Thanks for asking.
2 months ago
The system that waters the series of Hugel / Keyhole gardens is quite extensive, featuring a cistern, supplemented by additional rainwater tanks for a total of 2300 gallons of rainwater storage.  The gray water is not stored at all, but continually drains into the flooded pond under the mound.  A system of pumps and valves give me an automatic control system that I can monitor and override through a Web UI.
2 months ago
Here is a photo of the 1st Hugel / Keyhole garden from a distance.

You can see the hill dropping down to the pond, where I have already layed out the first course of landscaping blocks for 5 more identical Hugel / Keyhole mounds.  The gray water will gravity feed from one mound to another, keeping them all flooded.  The rainwater will daisy chain from one mound to another, and the overhead sprinkling will be individually controlled by schedule.

I am also posting a recent update of a Google Maps satellite photo of my property.  You can see the 6 Hugel / Keyhole gardens clearly in the photo, although the 1st (and only functional) keyhole is obscured by the shadow of a tree.  Nevertheless, it is there.

I will be planting in the new keyhole gardens this year, but that is essentially the same as planting in the ground with a mulch pile.  The actual Hugel mounds will be built one at a time over the next couple years.
2 months ago
My garden, which is located about 40 miles south of St. Louis, MO features a Hugelkutur planting bed in the form of a keyhole garden.  The underlying pond is continuously flooded from underneath by gray water, and irrigated from above with rain water.

Here is a series of pictures showing the first of 6 such Hugel mounds under construction.

I have just planted for the 2nd year.  The first year my crop was crazy!  The mound was overwhelmed.  This year I am taking a much more conservative approach, and hope to have pictures of growies soon.
2 months ago
I actually planted 4 grape vines in my Hugel mound, using the 4 corners of the cattle panel illustrated as a trellis.  Shade under the vines is good for my heat sensitive lettuce, but I also had sugar snap peas and cantelope interwoven throughout the same trellis.  What a disaster!  I will not do that again.  I am using an oscillating sprinkler head mounted in the top of the trellis to water from top down a couple times a day, but the vines fouled the sprinkler so bad that it could not oscillate!  I think grapes alone will be manageable since they grow slowly and can be pruned into shape.
6 months ago
Thanks to Jason for sharing the link to a related forum.  It forces me to notice that I did not include pictures of my completed project.  Here are 3 photos.

Greater details can also be seen in another forum that focuses on the irrigation component.  Here is the link:

My combination Hugelkulture / Keyhole garden has only been planted for a single season.  Quite an experiment!  I made the mistake of planting too many vines, and they absolutely overtook the entire mound until it was almost impossible to tend.  Maybe I will have better luck next year, if I pay attention to lessons learned.
6 months ago
At age 18 I joined the Navy.  My personal living space was about 30 inches wide, 30 inches high, and 74 inches long.  I shared a common occupancy unit with 70 other people who were just as obnoxious and noisy and stinky as I.  I am now a retired veteran who wore the uniform for 20 years.  Social justice leaguers are always reminding me that I am a privileged white boy.  Yes... today I am identifying as a 63 year old carbon unit of the male gender.  I thank God that I am still allowed to decide in how large a home I will reside with my wife of 39 years (who was still identifying as the female gender when she fell asleep last night) and my dog and my cat (both surgically rendered gender neutral).  My 17.4 kw solar array, rainwater collection system, hugelkulture planting beds, grey water irrigation system, barn, Chicken coop, and gas guzzling F-150 pickup are all I need, thank you very much.  On second thought, there is that greenhouse that I still want!  🤓
7 months ago
Could it also list fish hatcheries and sources, for those of us interested / involved in aquaponics?

Do you have any specific recommendations for bio-degradable earth friendly soaps and detergents?  How about bleaching agents?  My wife has been buying Seventh Generation natural dish liquid which is non-toxic and a USDA Certified Biobased Product (whatever that means) as well as plant-based according to the label.  She is also using ECOS Laundry detergent, which is labeled as Plant-Derived, and Earth Friendly.  Again, I am not sure what that all really means, and I do not have an independent testing laboratory at my disposal.  These are easy to find at the local Walmart.  (I share this fact in full awareness that someone out there is likely to brand me as an evil person for shopping at Wally World... but I live in the country.  I have to drive 27 miles to get to a Starbucks, and almost 50 miles to get to a Whole Foods Market!  Furthermore, ordering online is not the clear answer since it can be argued that Amazon ships in trucks that are powered by the wrong kind of fuel, so I can't win in a debate about personal responsibility and social justice when the conversation has been declared to be over - the matter is supposedly settled!)

Art Ludwig of Oasis Design fame used to offer a preferred detergent line, but he sold that off and it is now very expensive and hard to find.  Oasis Biocompatible Laundry Liquid, as the name goes, and once again I am not a chemist and I am not really sure that it is worth the cost and the trouble.  Can only be found online.

Your insights would be appreciated.
10 months ago