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Posts: 19
Location: KS
homeschooling medical herbs purity
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I looked over The 22 Aspects of PEP, original post by Nicole. We started our hugelkulture experience a week and a half ago, when my husband and 16 year old started collecting fallen and decomposing logs and trees. That alone took them 5 ish hours to collect what we thought would help us get to 7 feet tall. They aren't slow workers.
Saturday, we started actually building. We are in a mobile home park, so we *had* to dig down, to not have it so tall and them tell us to take it down (and yes, we told them what we are doing, they okayed it, but I am still nervous they didn't understand). We don't have the money to rent anything big to make it go faster, but even seeing how this went towards the end I know a big piece of equipment  would not have quickened the end aspect much at all.

Looking at this information on The 22 Aspects thread and elsewhere, each sand badge is supposed to be 5 hours for an average *individual* to complete, so getting 16 badges to complete PEP1 should theoretically  take a *person* 80 hours to do themselves. Am I understanding  that correctly? I've looked at all of the other badges and they look attainable in 5 hours for one person  to do, between all the badge bits.
Not only did my husband and 16 year old work about 10 hours each, Saturday, they also worked about 10 hours each on Sunday. I helped about 8 hours each of those days. I would have worked more, but I have a 4 month old that needs nursing and more care than my 2, 4, and 6 year olds... who also helped for about 6 hours Saturday and 4 hours Sunday.
And our hugelkulture is still not even fully covered. I have more to do today, much more slowly because I have blood blisters on both my hands now. {laughs}
I cannot see how this is, even with larger equipement, attainable in 5 hours for 1 person  to do. Even had the logs been right next to the hole, cut to size, and we had a backhoe. The pile is massive.
Pictures to come when we have everything planted, if the mobile home park did completely  understand  us and let's us keep this beast up. :)
I'm not sure someone who wants to verify to an Otis or a farmer (to be hired on) will have their own land to do this, in most situations, which makes the very first badge of this seem very unattainable for people to mete out and verify they can do this. I am still hoping the park let's us keep this up to get to planting stage... otherwise all the work, while valuable  learning for  ourselves, leaves us screwed about where to plant the seedlings I started and feels like a financial waste. My husband works 60 hours a week at his job, so the cost of time on weekends is very valuable to us, if we have to take this down and then spend even more time on a 'suitable' garden  according to the park, I don't know if we'll have time to do it before the plants NEEDS to be planted outside.

I question if a sand badge is more like starting X-number of variety of seeds yourself and not using any pesticides (though I don't know how the latter could be verified) and using the Ruth Stout method, as well as the chop and drop.... we haven't even started the chop and drop yet. That looks easily attainable in a couple hours. Our family of 7 will quickly make 10gal of compost to add to the hugelkulture, as well.
Just some thoughts after doing this one, though it's obviously PEPaul. :D
 
Caitlyn Pierce
Posts: 19
Location: KS
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Ben Zumeta wrote:I know the reasons to go big, but I think a seven foot minimum is a bit excessive. I have built thousands of square feet of hugel, and in a place with almost no summer rain for 4-6months. I think the tallest is 7ft from the bottom of the path that the base soil came from, but that was with an excavator. Going taller than 4-5ft almost requires heavy equipment to be safe and efficient. The work it takes to keep going up beyond 4-5ft with wheel barrows and people with hand tools is not entirely safe (I work with high school and college interns as well as little kids and retiree volunteers that I feel obligated to keep safe), and that same work could get 2-3x as much volume of shorter hugels in. If you have the space, I’d go out before going up above 5ft in this climate. I have seen my 4ft hugels go unwatered all summer (though it’s not very hot here) and have happy trees and perennials. I do have humus catchment basins filled with woody debris and chips for paths around them, so that adds 1.5ft to their effective height, but still I think a 7ft minimum is not necessary, discourages people from trying hugelkulture, and can be unsafe if the job is done by hand without careful staging. I love the badge bit idea and thank all those working on the PEP programs, this is just my two cents on an aspect of permaculture I have spent several years working on and observing.



I read this comment a few weeks ago and honestly had no idea how realistic this is, since I'd never made a hugelkulture  before. At the end of last night  I was by myself in the dark hand-packing and NOT in a pleasant mood and completely regretting the time put in that the mobile home park may now make us take down. I am going to take this advise deeply to heart and know that we can do this, much more quickly, and with still good results, at less height, outside of PEP badges. On my own I would never ever attempt this again. Thank you  for adding this comment here, because it really gives me encouragement.
 
steward
Posts: 4127
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I sure hope they let you keep it Caitlyn!  I believe Paul has built many hugelkulturs and must know what he's talking about when he's aiming for 5 hours.  I believe the 5 hours is based on having the materials collected and the tools ready to go.  I'm sure he's counting on using an excavator and not worrying about the rose bushes nearby.  

I'm hoping to knock that BB off the list at Wheaton labs this summer since I don't have an excavator on my property...
 
master steward
Posts: 27709
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Here is the 14 ton excavator and a whole lot of wood.   One person will probably have the physical hugelkultur done in less than an hour.  And then spend more than an hour planting it.

Here, at my place, you are thoroughly encouraged to build them taller than 7 feet tall.   Hell, go for ten feet!  And the observers and "HOA" will say "damn fine job."

If you want to come here and do it, and get the BB certified, that's fine.  

If you have another place to get it done, that's fine too.  

If you rent a room in an apartment that doesn't even have a deck ....  and you are thinking "I would build one here in my living room, in front of the nintendo machine, but the guy I'm renting from says he won't allow it, so you have to change the BB to allow something smaller for in a living room."  --- then I need to ask that instead, go find a place where they would love to have you come and build it.  And give me a few years to see if I can get more people saying "please come build these on my property!"

As for building it by hand - I'm totally cool with that.  Go for it.  It will certainly take longer.  And some people think of it as "better than paying for a gym membership."  Up to you.   Yes, I agree, it will take a lot of hours.  

So if the request is "make the BB smaller, so it takes less than five hours if you are doing it by hand."  I think I'm gonna say "the rent an excavator, or tractor, or skid steer, or something.  Or maybe have a workshop with 40 people and do the tom sawyer thing."    The important thing is that it is the same piece of work for everybody.   And there are a lot of reasons for the specs of 7 feet tall and whatnot (three years later people will be commenting on how the weeds on that thing are green and lush while all the plants everywhere else have died from the drought).

I fully understand that there might someday be a PEU program for urban stuff.  For now, I'm working my ass off just to define something that will work for just my property.  And I've put in an extra 4% of effort to get it to work on an additional 400,000 properties.  Maybe 2% of all properties.  And another 3% on top of that to get it to work for vegans like fred.  Some day there will be more programs that are similar - full of stuff that I think is lame, but somebody else thinks is better.  
 
Posts: 24
Location: Greene County, NY Zone 5b
7
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So in my original post, I should have said I can't find a US source for this rye. Because I have found a bunch of European sources. Which, my only worry was having customs messing things up like what r ranson had with the flax seeds from her kickstarter. So I placed an order from France, and recieved them today. Looks like they're fine so I didn't need to worry haha. After I get my other garden beds set up I should be able to move on to working on my Hugelkultur. I got about 50g from a seed shop named La Lettre S Shop.
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 27709
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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How many seeds are in 50g?
 
Jeffrey Carlson
Posts: 24
Location: Greene County, NY Zone 5b
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A lot, haha. Sorry. I'm not sure. I'll post a photo. I actually ordered 3, 15g packets of seed. All together it's like 55g according to my digital kitchen scale. B&T seeds says on their order page that there are about 30 seeds in 1g. My kitchen scale isn't that accurate, I tried. So 50g is ~1,500 seeds?  

 
pollinator
Posts: 484
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9-10, 60" rain/yr,
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I agree about going for it with a excavator if you can, but mainly just wanted to point out that I have seen hugels smaller than 7ft and done by hand pay off very well. They have essentially paid off my small property. I have built about 10,000sq ft of hugels averaging 4ft high by hand. However, while it was better than a gym membership, I agree with Paul and encourage anybody who can afford it and has a site that it will work to get an excavator on their hugels and go big as you can with your space. I got the equivalent of a year's hand labor done in 8hrs on a relatively small excavator. However, even if you cannot go that big, or have access problems for your site, in my experience it is still worthwhile to make virtually any raised bed a hugel bed if wood is available and you fully bury the wood.
 
Mike Jay
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I built a hugelkultur bed today at the 2019 PEP1 event.  It was on a side slope which made it fairly tricky.  The downhill side got pretty long while the uphill side was very steep.  The wood came from a variety of places nearby.  Some were rotten chunks from attempts at rock jacks, some were just stumps or punky firewood and some were from a brush pile.  I almost tipped the tractor over twice but saved it both times

Total time to complete was 7 hours.  Half the soil came from 20' away, the other half was a 2 minute tractor's ride away.  I got about 6' high and was having trouble getting it taller.  Paul suggested that I could have put branches through the pile a bit earlier and they'd help hold it together.  So I got two arm fulls of fir branches and stuck them into the pile or over the top and then added dirt.  Two layers of branches and dirt got me to the final height.

The seeds/plants planted were 4 comfrey, 4 sunchokes, 20-30 Sepp Holzer grain, daikon radish, winter dormant alfalfa, alsike clover, rose clover, lavender, crimson clover, pennycress, common vetch, wheat from a hugel, Russian olive and sunflowers.  The mulches applied were comfrey, grass from the septic field, spoiled hay, Daryl's three log bench wood chips and some fir branches.

Paul checked it over and approved.  The shovel is 5' tall in the pictures (don't forget to notice the black part of the handle).

Paul also said that if you wanted to have four people build their hugels at the same time, you'd need to clearly document each person doing their own work and all stages of it (moving wood, moving dirt, planting, mulching, etc).  That would work much better than what I had to do.  Putting a long log on top of a 5' high hugel is helpful.  Getting short enough wood so that it won't stick out of a single pyramid hugel is much trickier in my short experience.
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View A before
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View B before
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First load of wood in place
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Halfway up
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Fir branches to help hold more dirt
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Seeds, tubers and roots
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Planted and starting to mulch
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View A after
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View B after
Staff note (paul wheaton):

I certify that this BB is complete!

 
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