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Paul, Katie, Mark, Opalyn, and Kyle return to talking about Sepp Holzer’s Desert or Paradise, this time actually getting to the book in question.

“Hugelkultur, otherwise known as the German mound or Hugelbeet, is an essential part in Holzer’s permaculture.  The advantages are convincing – it enlarges the area to be cultivated, it creates microclimates and allows easy access because of its height, it improves the soil because of the added organic matter at its core.  In wet areas it often is the best, if not only way to grow various plants because it dries quicker than the ground.  It can also serve as a windbreak.  The hugelkultur is built up loosely and therefore is well aired and roots grow easily in it.  This accelerates the composting of the organic matter that in return makes nutrients available to the plants.  Soil life is activated by these processes.  The bed will sag over the course of several years – how quickly depends on the wood used at its center.  Soft wood, like poplar, will decay in 3-5 years, hardwood, like oak, takes 15 years to rot down.  The hugelkultur could be rebuilt then, or the valuable humus could be used elsewhere in the garden.  A hugelkultur is ideally about 1.5 meters (~5 feet) high, with a gradient of about 65 – 80 degrees narrowing towards the top.  Plants preferring dry soil should be planted towards the top, water-loving plants like melons and cucumbers at the bottom where it is wettest.  A hugelkultur needs to be watered during dry spells, ideally at the base of the plants with a watering can or drip (hoses?).

Paul says the beds should be higher – 7 feet (~2.1 meters) tall, and is glad that Sepp is finally admitting that the beds will sag over time as previously he’s denied that they do.

Relevant Threads

Earthworks forum

Hugelkultur forum

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This podcast was made possible thanks to:

Dr. Hugh Gill Kultur
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