Hugelkultur

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Hugelkultur!

I built another Hugelkultur on the very top of the property I work on. I could have gathered more wood but meh it will do for now, this is really just to demonstrate the concept to the farmer I work for.

I can’t believe I did that all in a few hours - goes to show you that if you’re passionate about something it doesn’t matter how large a task is, your passion will see you through it.

Let me know what guys and gals think about it!!

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The new garden really exploded despite being thrown together from scratch and having so much of it planted late. I put in perennial flowers (bee balm, butterfly flower, blanket flower) near the hives and the pumpkin vines overtook a lot of it and I had to pull leaves to keep them accessible and the flowers in the sun.

Around the cedar tree in our little recreation area I put perennials also, including a new hydrangea, salvia, bee balm, and transplanted two rose bushes and done assorted annuals.

September, 2016.

youtube

“Hugelkultur Hoop Houses, Hugelbeds and Fukuoka Style Hugelkulturs Retain and Release Water and Nutrients for Plants. How to make them.”

When we’re setting heat records by the year, using less water smartly becomes priority. 

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Okay, I might be going a little nuts with this, but a friend wanted me to help him build a Hugelkultur and I couldn’t resist, I think I have an addiction to moving soil!

This one is neat because we integrated a herb-spiral into the top corner of the bed - it draining into a water feature.

I just love making these things so much and I am still trying to figure out how to model a business around them.

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New garden with some stuff starting to die back. Some of my bees are showing a unique pattern, I’m not sure which hive. A lot of emptied beds were covered with squash vines, which started pulling down the corn. Salvaged sod and perennials that started out in sad shape have made a great comeback. A lot of the plants around the big stone looked dead and had rotten stems that had to be cut back nearly to the soil line. The daisies in the fourth to the last photo were also thrown out from the greenhouse at work and were labeled as annuals. I figured they’d reseed and planted them anyways and they surprised my by combining back from dry stems and according to the internet they’re perennials.

September, 2016.

Are you familiar with Hugelkltur mounds? If not, you should be.  Now that the rains have started again instead of creating a mound and raising how high my hops will be growing I’m going to instead dig a trench and make a lowered Hugelkultur bed. 

It’s important to do this when the rains start so that the wood has adequate water exposure to break down before you planting season. Do not use wood chips, you want natural uneven decomposition. I like starting with big branches and moving to smaller ones near the top. Then I layer green matter, it could be grass clippings, leaves, or in this case I’m going to use sunflower stalks. Then I’m going to cover the trench with dirt.

Depending on how large your branches are you might not see any better production the first year and will probably have to supplement soil treatments however years 2-4 you will have some of the best soil. My pickles, tomatoes, peas, onions and corn all did amazing on my bed this year.

I’m really hoping to see these work wonders on my hops in the future and am super excited about implementing more of these throughout our yard.

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Started work on a plot I’m going to take at the Sebastopol Laguna park community garden.

I did not know what I was getting into when I decided to claim the sunny bed near the water and compost piles. I thought there would be some effort to remove (and pot up) the oak trees. I was mistaken to think that this was the crux of preparing bed 7.

The previous gardener left me many buried treasures including several clay tiles, terra cotta pots, stumps and a manhole cover. I get that they were making a hugel bed and used the buried pots to assist with watering, but did they really need to chain the logs to a manhole cover?

After three hours the work was done. All logs and pots out of the bed, trees potted up.

It is now in need of more soil, compost, manure, and then planting.

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We worked in the garden too. All the goat poo we cleaned up went into the middle hugel bed that we finished today. It’s where the corn was. Now we have 3 set up. See the last picture? The clover is really taking off on that one. Can’t wait to fill up our beds with FOOD next year! We have so much more room now.

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Everything melted back and I was able to update some garden notes I missed and tuck some blueberries back into the hugelkultur that popped up. The goats and sheep enjoyed some nice softened frozen/thawed pumpkins.

The guy who delivers hay to the store I work at also raises sheep and gave me this tidbit: feed them pumpkin in the winter. The carb load will trick parasites into thinking it’s spring and they’ll release eggs in the animal’s stool, but those will just freeze and reduce the cycle of reinfection.

December 1, 2016.

hugelkultur!!

this year on our farm we used a technique new to us called hugelkultur.  it has become one of my favorite of the permaculture practices that we’ve integrated.  the term is german for “mound culture."  basically we made mounds of brush (mostly dead sunflower stalks, tree branches left from pruning, and woody materials too thick for the compost pile), then added some green material, then straw, then a layer of compost, then a layer of topsoil.  let it sit for a few weeks then planted in it.  the results have been amazing!  everything that grew in the hugelkulturs this year were our most successful plants, and produced leaps and bounds over the others that we planted in the ground, and even in the raised beds.  the theory is that because the hugelkultur piles are continuing to breakdown as the plants are growing, it holds more moisture, heat, and nutrients, and then provides more to the plants ongoing, and with a lot less work i might add.  it’s been a great solution to our continual issue of working very compacted clay soil.  rather than forcing the soil to change rapidly, we’re building the soil from the top, therefore less tilling, digging, and amending. 

check it out…

created this mound in late jan./early feb…

same mound in late april from opposite side…

this is around june

august in full glory (from original view)…

august in full glory (opposite view)…

and this is our three sisters mound (corn, beans, squash)…

march

early june

late june

mid-august in full glory

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New garden, May/June 2016.

This is the first post in a series showing our progress this summer. The new garden is surrounded by 9 cattle panels plus a door, for about 150’ perimeter or 1,600 sq. ft. It’s filled with hugelkultur beds as seen in progress.

Hugelkultur is a great use of brush and stumps. On top of that I layered rotten hay, manure, and compost. I planted directly in a thin layer of straight compost. Around the cedar tree I created a recreational area using discounted browning sod, a seats and table from the front yard, and a tractor tire for a sandbox. I used salvaged tires for raised beds and the beehives were moved to get them behind a fence after a bear got into them.