Hi! I’m not sure if I should post about my project here or start a new thread in Hugelkultur.
I am starting this year to work on a few projects on an approx. 1 acre suburban property in Olympia, WA, zone 8. Rainy most of the year and increasingly dry summers. This year’s goals include building a compost bin and starting to compost, testing and improving the soil, and just generally observing the site.
However we have an old rotting maple tree and the tree expert said it needs to come down, which will happen in about 3 or 4 weeks. I would like to try to do a Hugelkultur here (picture attached) with that wood. It doesn't have to be perfect, everything is an experiment at this point. I have been reading threads and trying to get ideas (I haven’t read every page on this thread yet.)
I don’t want it to be tall—I’m thinking four feet and then I know it will shrink. I saw Paul’s post about layering wood-soil-wood-soil etc, not just pouring soil over a pile of wood. I guess doing a sunken Hugel allows the wood to collect more moisture and wick it upwards, right? Does digging 2 feet below ground level sound about right?
I have read about rodent problems when the hugel is too dry? Or will there be rodents regardless?
I understand 'no watering' is an ideal and 'less watering' is usually the reality? Or less watering at the beginning and no watering after 2 or 3 years if you do it right?
Is layering with soil and the sod on that old pile going to be enough? It’s not the season for grass clippings, what else can I use? I can get free horse manure nearby.
Is this the right time of year to do it so it can soak in the rains before summer?
I need to see what’s actually under that mound and do some soil tests. I don’t know what that pile was. It might have been bark mulch. Since the soil is likely not good, and compost won’t be ready til next year, I guess I might need to add some stuff. The local food coop carries worm castings, remineralizing soil booster, and some kind of biodynamic compost. Any pointers?
I’d like to grow annuals: cucumber, watermelon, and summer squash. And some nitrogen fixers. Lupin because I already have seeds, and whatever else (I'll look at good companion plants for these veggies). None of the nitrogen fixing berry shrubs are ones I’m familiar with so I don’t know about planting things I’m not sure I’m going to like and I don't want to make this a permanent fixture until I know it will produce good results.
Am I missing anything? What can go wrong? I would appreciate any advice from people that have tried hugelkultur in my growing zone. Thanks very much for reading.