hugelkultur article*
Permies likes hugelkultur and the farmer likes Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur article thread permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login


permies » forums » growies » hugelkultur
Bookmark "Paul Wheaton Watch "Paul Wheaton New topic
Author

Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur article thread

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Thanks for the great vodeos!

Can you start a hugelkultur bed any time of year or do you need to do it in the spring?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15213
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
How long does a hugel bed last before it needs to be rebuilt?


How long is a piece of string?

Assume the bed in the first video.  In 40 years that bed will probably be only two feet tall, but all of the growies would have kept dumping leaves so the soil below would still be crazy awesome.

But that same bed in florida would shrink about five times faster.

Are some types of wood better than others?


Yes.  And while I have some ideas in this space, my knowledge is horribly incomplete.

Are some types of wood better for different crops?


I would guess that black walnut would be poison to some species, but no big deal to others. 

Does the direction of wood grain have any effect on the system?


Not enough to worry about I think.


Is there an advantage or method for preparing the wood before burial?


I think bigger pieces will last longer.


sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Marsha Hanzi


Joined: Sep 10, 2009
Posts: 20
Location: NE Brazil drylands
Hello from Brazil! I´m writing from the tropical drylands of Bahia, and Sepp Holzer´s hugelculture seem really promising, he is so inspiring in so many ways...

I have not had time to read all four pages of comments- our connection is antediluvian, radio, very slow -so forgive me if I am repeating something someone has already said, but one has to remember that a tree or branches contain the bark and the growing tips which are rich in other minerals and enzymes, which help decomposition tremendously, quite different in effect from dry sawdust.

If you don´t have time to get aorund to building the beds or terraces this year ( it´s pretty heavy work!) Nature here has a neat process for decomposing dry material at the end of the rainy season: our woods are covered with vines, most of them flowering - it´s beautiful. I have this theory that it is Nature´s strategy to help decompose the dry material before the seven months of dry heat oxidize it all (by creating a nice humid microclimate).

Two of the most efficient vines here are native morning glories and passion fruit. We use this strategy to break down wood, especially of thorny trees that are difficult to handle. Practically any vine which climbs over the whole mass and just covers it should work - some clambering beans for instance.  We have used mucuna for this, for example.Of course we are talking tropics here...By next year the material is much easier to handle. Normally then we just plant squash in it.But it can be used to build a bed.

We consider rotting wood to be the real soil-builder.


Marsha Hanzi
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
Diane, I think anytime would be a good time to start a bed.  These things last for a long time, if your string is long enough!


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
So it would be a good idea to put a bed in even if you could not plant it right away because it gets the process started.

Is there any crop that is best for forming your first season, you know like rooty plants to help stop erosion of the soil?
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
If the wood is to draw off nitrogen getting started, I'd replace it by starting some legumes.  Being Summer, beans would do well, give you a fine meal or some seed for next year and fix nitrogen in the soil.  They are fast growing and can be planted closely, giving you a thick root system in short order.  You could toss some squash in there, maybe some corn, herbs, flowers, or a big crop of imagination.
                              


Joined: May 02, 2009
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
regarding the new video, what kind of wood did they use? how rotten was it?

the grain--wood is a bunch of aligned straws, I imagine upended rounds would absorb more water(as water trickles down and does not shoot sideways), then lying them on their sides? (unless the wood is well rotted to begin with)

I confess I found the construction of the bed in the video with such big rounds(and notmuch else) a bit odd--I thought when building it above ground like that you need more thin filler stuff to kinda weave through the dirt and everything to help hold it together--at least long enough for roots to get well established. But then where they are it's not a lot of rain? so what is the annual rainfall at that location? min/max temps?

I guess I always wish there was more basic local climate info in the videos(which I do love the vids)--it would add a lot of comprehension in comparing the project to ones' own situation, at least annual rainfall and max/min temps

My Blog, Natural History and Forest Gardening
www.dzonoquaswhistle.blogspot.com
"Listen everybody, to what I gotta say, there's hope for tomorrow, if we wake up today!" Ted Nugent
"Suck Marrow" Henry D Thoreau
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
thanks Ken for the planting ideas!

wyldthang : Most of the wood was cotton wood, it was very well rotted, crumbling in some places.  Our expert instructor tells us there is no preference for facing the wood grain any special direction.


Here is a video with an established bed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWaEEdB6GZM
                              


Joined: Jul 12, 2010
Posts: 123
hi everyone.  this is my first time posting.  ive always loved gardening and now im getting more and more into developing my 1/5 acre urban lot (austin, tx) using permaculture practices.

we've got about a 1/5 of the yard relegated to laying hens.  id love to let them free range the entire property but there's not enough room for them.  they get into the herb spiral, garden, etc.  they unmulch everything and eat our veggies.  one problem is ive got a pet nigerian dwarf goat and a 100lb dog.  the dog eats chickens and the goat eats everything else.  the two of them are buddies and live in the deeply shaded backyard (under a few pecan trees and a catalpa tree).  not the best two fellas to have around when it comes to small scale urban permaculture... but.. theyre my friends, theyre here and just something i have to deal with.

so the chickens have their own fenced in area in the front yard under a giant pecan tree.  theres only five hens but theyve already managed to deforest their area.  every now and then I open their gate and let them roam the rest of the front yard, but you have to be out their with them to keep an eye on them or its havok in the herb spiral.  i feel for them because they dont get enough grass/greens/etc to munch like they want.  i feed them organic layer mash i buy at the feed store.  i dont have any dreams of being able to produce all their feed onsite but i would like to supplement their diet somewhat with things grown here... ideally inside their own chicken run.  Sooo.... I built this hugel bed:





the very center is probably 3.5 feet tall.  i didnt dig it in.. the bottom level is a huge pecan branch that fell out of the tree three years ago and has been laying in the same spot since.  its already filled with mycelium as ive counted at least 3 species of mushrooms growing on it (none edible).  i gathered all the wood from my property.  more pecan, a magnolia tree i chopped down, a little bit of crape myrtle... covered the entire mound with spoiled hay, then green grass, more spoiled hay, more grass, more hay, then an entire small bed pickup truck full of horse manure (three scoops from a front loader at the horse manure factory) mixed with more hay.  the manure came from a pile of manure in different states of decomposition... im not sure i would call any of it composted.  then i stuck the vertical branches in, leaning against the mound and stuck firmly into the ground below.  the idea is it would make the top of the bed less accessible to the chickens and give anything that might vine a place to go.  in a couple weeks im able to get a truckload of nice soil for free which will go on top.  should i put down a layer of straw before the dirt?  might that help fight off the seeds in the hay and manure?

so... here's my question after this long winded post.  what the heck should i plant in this bed?  it might have to out compete a lot of grass/weeds from the horse manure and hay.  maybe that'll be good food for the chickens...?  i live in austin texas, which is a zone 8b.  we're actually in the city so i think its even a little milder during the winters.  the spot gets shade all morning.  late to early afternoon it's dappled shade.  after about 2pm it gets a healthy dose of sun until almost dusk.  the morning shade comes from a pecan tree its under.  its surrounded by a sea of chickens.

any ideas about planting native trailing blackberries (dewberries) here?  they grow like gangbusters in this area.  they're super invasive (can you say that about something native) but should be contained by the chickens...?  ive read chickens like blackberries... and so do i.  what other plants could i plant in there with them that would benefit the chickens?  im also a bit worried about how much sun that spot gets in late april when blackberries are fruiting.

ok... i have to stop now, i could go on forever.  any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated to give me some ideas or get me going in the right direction.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
What a wonderful post, I love when real people post real pictures!

I think your vertical branches might make it much easier to get the soil to stick, but I'm no expert.
However Paul is an expert & he will be popping in to check this out & I'm sure you will get lots of great input from him as well as from other experts who frequent here.


I have been told that buckwheat is a good choice for a first year crop.

Your place looks like an urban oasis!

Please take more pictures for us, we love to see them!

Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame


Joined: May 23, 2010
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
    
    3
I don't know anything about hugelkulture, hugelkulture, hugelkulture except that I should chant it often. 

The thing that strikes me in those photos are the fences.  Obviously, some climbing vines would be happy to make use of your vertical space... but you might have to protect them from the chooks until they get established.  Also, you could plant forage plants just on the other side of the fence, so the plants are protected, but will grow through to feed the chickens. 

I am also thinking vertical in terms of fodder trees.  Mulberry comes to mind.  Maybe you have enough tree cover already...short of cutting down trees, you could just open up the canopy a bit. 

here are some plants good for chook fodder:

USEFUL PLANTS FOR CHICKEN FORAGE
VINES FOR FENCES AND TRELLISBanana passionfruit, black passionfruit, choko, grapes, cucumber, beans, climbing spinach

PLANTS FOR SOWING IN ROTATION
Sunflower, amaranth, corn, millet, buckwheat, chickpea, sorghum, wheat, oats, barley, lucerne, clover

TREES and SHRUBS WITH FRUIT
Mulberry, lillypilly or other native bushfoods, persimmon, pawpaw, feijoa, strawberry guava, tamarillo, custard apple, peach, banana (chop up the stems), fig, jaboticaba, grumichama, Brazilian cherry, pears

TREES and SHRUBS WITH SEEDS OR PODS (for larger areas)
Tree lucerne/tagasaste, wattle, pigeon pea

GREENS
Comfrey, arrowroot, New Zealand spinach syn. Warrigal greens
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
yes you should chant it, while you are plastering soil on to your steep beds, it helps!
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i love this thread, seems like it has a life of its own.

i was re reading Ann Lovejoy's 2001 book "Organic Garden Deisgn School" yesterday, and although her principles don't really line up with most permaculture principles she had some interesting things to say about downed trees in a forest being nurse trees.

She was talking in the book about how a nurse tree (downed tree) will feed the plants around it for many many years..which is pretty similar to a hugel bed..as it is rotting wood feeding plants for years.

kinda made me think of when we go out into the woods to forage for wild mushrooms and huckleberries, and when you come across a really old large down tree how much life there is in that old dead tree. Mosses, mushrooms, baby trees growing up beside it or out  of the center where it is good and rotted.


If you think hugel, and think large dead rotting trees..it only makes sense that this works.

as for my hugel beds i put in this spring..they have a huge crop of very nicely growing plants in my garden now..comparing the same crops in the hugel beds and the spread old compost pile beds..to the other beds that don't have the buried wood or compst..there is a HUGE differnce..the hugel and compost beds are wildly fertile and the plants are huge and strong..in some of the other beds that have receeived less attention from me, the plants are spindly  and weak.

we have been going through one of the worst droughts in our area of  Michigan than we ever have..my pond has no inlet of fresh water, and it is huge..well not any more, the water is down 2 1/2 feet, first year ever it has been this bad in 8 years since it was dug.

but those hugel beds are thriving..the others ..even with soaker hoses..are not doing as well..however..have to admit..nothing is dying..i believe a lot of the other benefit to our land has been all the trees that I have planted over the 39 years here..I belieeve they have been building up the soil and shading it and providing transpired moisture..where most of the homes in the area have nothing but browning grass (or sprinklers running 24/7), stuff here is still green, and it is always cooler here than it is at our neighbors property..


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I love this thread too, especially the great pictures!!

You know I once walked in the forest & I saw downed trees as potential fire wood, BUT NOW I see a downed tree & I see hugelkultur fodder.

I can't wait to do a bed of my very own! 
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
I have lots of cap cuts from my sawmill along with piles of bark we peel off of the logs if possible before cutting.  Nearly all is pine - sugar pine, Ponderosa pine or bull pine.  I read earlier that wood from conifers was not the best but also read that pine is preferred to cedar - 

Also there is pine sawdust - fine due to the 1/8 inch kerf of the bandsaw mill.  Nearly all of the trees cut are bug damaged or fire killed trees.  I also have a few Bull or Grays pines which is a lower foothill twisted but decently rotting pine that is not considered good commercially.  I know better though.  Homestead barns as well as other structures were built from it.  The bull pines commonly drop gigantic limbs and rot in a few years.

Thoughts on using this mill and other mostly pine waste?


- Glenn -
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i somewhat disagree with those people who are adverse to using cedar..although the cedar i have used has been for mulch and is very finely chipped..a little thicker than sawdust..but it really makes a tremendously wonderful mulch. (i do add some nitrogen fertilizer "dairydoo".. just in case)..it keeps the weeds down nicely around perennial plants...and in a couple years is completely incorporated into the soil
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
@Glenn Kangiser:

Sounds like a good set of resources to work with.

The sawdust might absorb nitrogen too quickly to be directly of use in a garden bed. If it's coarse enough to safely use as animal bedding, or if it would be worth the effort to sift and/or agglomerate, you might try lending it to someone near you who keeps domestic animals. There are other ways to diminish the C:N ratio (or just the activity of the carbon) before using it, such as growing mushrooms, cold-composting with N-fixing bacteria, or low-temperature pyrolysis.

The extra bark, rotten portions, and maybe even the charred portions will help make the wood less of an immediate drain on fertility.

It's possible that some of the plants you would want to grow, won't do well on pine for the first few years. It's worthwhile to plant a wide variety anyhow, and other people here might have some good advice on what to try.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Working on another hugelkultur, this one a bit larger.



It took 3 wheelbarrows of old logs, sticks, and bark to fill this hole.



Tomorrow I will fill in the gaps with sheep and chicken bedding.


Idle dreamer

Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
Found me a big fat rotten tree in the brush behind the pole barn.  I'll be building me one of these beds with it.  Give me time.
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
@Glenn Kangiser:

Sounds like a good set of resources to work with.

The sawdust might absorb nitrogen too quickly to be directly of use in a garden bed. If it's coarse enough to safely use as animal bedding, or if it would be worth the effort to sift and/or agglomerate, you might try lending it to someone near you who keeps domestic animals. There are other ways to diminish the C:N ratio (or just the activity of the carbon) before using it, such as growing mushrooms, cold-composting with N-fixing bacteria, or low-temperature pyrolysis.

The extra bark, rotten portions, and maybe even the charred portions will help make the wood less of an immediate drain on fertility.

It's possible that some of the plants you would want to grow, won't do well on pine for the first few years. It's worthwhile to plant a wide variety anyhow, and other people here might have some good advice on what to try.


Thanks, Joel.  I have always wanted to grow mushrooms but will have to work out a spot for them as it is hot here - still I think I could make a place and will have to research it more.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Here's the bed with two wheelbarrows of poop and old hay:



I'm giving it a long soak with the sprinkler, then in the next couple days I'll top it with soil and plant something, probably melons.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I love all the pictures, I still think it is funny that we are now all excited when we see rotted wood, remember before this idea was introduced to you, you just thought a dead tree was a dead tree....

Here are a few pics of our bed building work shop.


[Thumbnail for JULY-2010 Workshops-Missoula 033sm.JPG]

[Thumbnail for JULY-2010 Workshops-Missoula 021sm.JPG]

Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
I'm looking at the carbon: nitrogen ratio of woody material, thought I'd post it.  These are from different sources and are not written in stone.  A general idea of what is going on is what I'm trying to wrap my brain around.

sources include
weblife.org
composting101.com
.homecompostingmadeeasy.com
Cornell Composting has extensive data for lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose content.  I'll have to take a look to see how that works into the cycle.

sawdust weathered 3 years 142:1
sawdust weathered 2 months 625:1
alder sawdust 134:1
hardwood 560:1 with .09%N
hardwood bark 223:1, .241%N
softwood 641:1, .09%N
softwood bark 496:1, .145%N
leaves 35:1 to 85:1, .9%N
pine needles 60:1 to 110:1
cardboard 350-563:1, .1%N
corn cobs 56-123:1
rotted sawdust .25%N
urine .8:1, 15-18%N
wood ashes 25:1
wood chips 400:1

While the N content of woody materials is low, the density is considerably greater than humus or compost.  A hugelkulture bed would have great amounts of N contained within it.  As organic matter decomposes, much of the carbon is released as CO2.  As the CO2 leaves the soil in gaseous form, the C:N ratio would drop.  This causes me to think the decomposition rate would be slow at first and increase over time.

The difference in C:N between hardwood and softwood is consistent with observations in other posts that hardwood is better in a hugelkulture bed.

Take note of the difference between hardwood and hardwood bark.  The bark is twice as nice.  Bark is renewable.  Could bark be harvested and allowed to regrow, using the bark crop for inclusion in a hugelkulture bed?

                              


Joined: Jul 12, 2010
Posts: 123
how do you harvest and renew bark without harvesting and renewing the hardwood?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Cork oaks are harvested of their bark without killing the tree.  Perhaps other oaks could be treated the same?

http://www.corkinstitute.com/harvest.html
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
Different species have different bark features.  Some are smooth, some are scaley, some are overlapping plates.  Knocking off bark, in small amounts, and not so deep as to damage or cripple the tree, with a hatchet or machete could work.  If an entire tree was not needed, it could be left to grow.  The bark would heal. 

Ludi used 3 wheelbarrels of wood to fill her hole.  Small pieces of bark would effect less impact on the body than lifting whole stumps.  Anyone can gather bark. 

Smaller pieces would mean faster decomposition time. 
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
stalk_of_fennel wrote:
how do you harvest and renew bark without harvesting and renewing the hardwood?


They do tend to go together, but there are lots of ways to affect the ratio of one to the other.

Coppicing or pollarding allows you to cut (highly renewable) wood with a very thin section, even from an old tree. A thinner section means that a given area of bark is stretched over a much smaller amount of wood.

It would also be much easier for a tree to heal from this process, than from removal of swathes of bark.
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
There are crepe myrtles all around here which are well suited for coppicing or pollarding.  Cut the top off a trunk, next year there will be several new shoots 10 feet long.  Its a common practice to trim these, brings out more flowers each year without the shrub getting out of control.  Cut the trunk when it gets to big, a couple more shoots will start up below the cut mark.  It is not unheard of to have a dozen trunks together.  At 1-2" thick at the most, a large plant can be trimmed in short order using loppers, then chopped to a desired length. 
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Would it not be a possibility to seek out someone who is cutting logs for the wood & see if you can have the bark??
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
I have approached work crews cutting down trees for utility companies.  The standard procedure is to cut down limbs over and near power lines, then run them through a giant shredder.  The chips are then dumped in the landfill.  The landfill has a charge, my yard is free.  I have scored vast amounts of wood chips in this fashion for use as mulch.

Small lumber yards are also a potential source.  In NY last year, an amish fellow milled logs into lumber, a one man operation, had a heap of scraps left.  These were the outer part of the log cut square, much larger bark: wood ratio.  I gathered a truckload for use as stakes.  At $5/truckload the price was reasonable for instant stakes.  He sold the stuff as firewood, worked mostly with pine, larch and oak.

Larger lumber yards may be a potential source, but due to the volume often have contracts in place for disposal of the stuff as fuel.  Still, can't hurt to ask.

Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Another possible source:

College/university Loggersports teams...

These teams do a lot of log cutting and have LOTS of scraps. I know that most schools won't have one but there is a team at the college here and they have small mountains of wood, and are more than happy for someone to take it away.


http://www.greenshireecofarms.com
Zone 5a in Central Ontario, Canada
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
Last winter I made berms on the outer edge of terraces to plant fruit trees on and conserve our winter rain water.

Since reading this topic I am planning on converting part of the drive area above into a hugelkultur bed that will store the winter water in the wood and release it to the trees and a garden in the area next to them.

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Sounds like a great idea!
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Has anyone ever compared the performance of burying the logs in a trench below the existing soil surface, as opposed to placing the logs on top of the existing ground?

I'd like to avoid using machinery and/or the manual labour to do the digging. If I've gotta dig soil to bury the logs I'd rather get a pond out of the deal if the difference between the two techniques is slim.
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
I would do at least some digging to excavate the topsoil.  Nonetheless, a study would be prudent.  I put together some notes a couple days ago to test some variables.

Case 1
logs laid out on top of the ground

Case 2
logs laid in a trench with the tops of the logs level with the surface.

In both cases, the volume, size, shape and species of the log should be as similar as possible.  Compost and soil covering the logs also needs to be consistent.  Covering plants should be identical if planted.  If covering plants are left to the environment, the differences can be extreme, even if the beds are beside each other.

This would be sufficient to produce a data point, but it would need to be duplicated as many times as possible.  There may be different results depending on the soil, climate, and environment if several people perform the same experiment in their own diverse locations.

I'd also continue and expand the experiment to test for thickness of the wood layer.  Several beds, established as uniformly as possible, but with a differing depth of the wood layer.  Is there a wood depth that is optimum or a point where more wood depth offers no further gain.

Another variable to test would be the thickness or size of the wood being included.  Do logs perform better or does a similar mass or volume of smaller diameter wood perform better?  How about if the logs are split? 

The next test is species.  Several beds, each with a different species of wood.  Pine, oak, birch, laurel, maple, sassafras, Ash, Aspen, Poplar, the list keeps on going. 

These tests would take several years, perhaps decades.  Data gathering would be a challenge.  Quantifying the productivity of the beds would need to be developed.  For statistically meaningful results, a uniform test bed would need to be identified and standardized.  A uniform crop would be required, with measurements of the yield.  This can include a standard rotation plan

This is the stuff of government research grants.

Without going to all the trouble of planning and measuring, a qualitative result could be estimated.  This could serve as the basis of a more scientific approach to test specific variables later on.  For example, Glenn Kangiser, in his driveway above, could use oak on half the driveway, maple on the other, find out if a species works out better or if a difference appears at different times between the species as the experiment progresses.

There is almost no hard science behind hugelkulture.  If there were, I'd think it would be translated to the world in a manner which would promote yield as the single important objective, with instructions to growers bearing maximum production in mind.  However, the fabric of the ecosystem is intertwined to such an extent that if one thread is plucked, the whole thing can unravel.  Hugelkulture is the establishment of a unique biotope.  Commercialization of the method would undoubtedly lead to some form of bastardized intensification which defeats the whole purpose or gives the agricorpmonsters yet another method and reason to rape the environment.

Discuss.
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
Hmm ... I hope nobody objects my use of machinery to make my hugelkultur bed.

I admit, I am addicted to machinery when it will speed up the work process and make something possible in a few hours that would take months or years for me any other way, so please forgive me. 

I feel that the direction of the world events is in such a state that we all need to do more of this while we have the opportunity.  Soon it may get much harder and much more expensive to feed our families.

Here is my pile of natural resources.  Logs that fell - were too old to saw or too tough to use unless the need made it worthwhile, but with hugelkultur they will not have died in vain.



and a few more



Note that some of those you could see were still good.  Even the good ones were from bug damaged trees.

I have a Bobcat 963 that will lift 6000 lbs so moving them is not a great problem.




Here I have taken them down to the hugelkultur bed area.  A distance of around 600 feet around the hill and down to the terrace around 50 feet lower elevation than the mill.  Elevation changes here are around 30 to 40% in most areas - it is around 1/2 mile down hill here to the valley below with few areas resembling anything flat.  That is why I want to make areas to contain water and growth on the mountain side, improving the area where we live as far as ability to produce food using less water.



We currently pump around 500 gallons of water for the garden per day using wind and solar power.  I wish to maximize the usefulness of our renewable energy as well as make it possible to help supply food to those who need it as well as for ourselves,  should the  need arise.

After moving the logs near the work area it was time to dig an area for the logs where the winter rains could saturate them as well as be stored for the plant use and a good soak into the clay soil below.  We get around 25 to 50 inches of rain per year but mostly between November and April with only a couple more storms by june then nothing until October or so to speak of.

I dug the bed area for the logs about 12' x 25' x 39 inches deep, behind the berm I made 2 years ago for the trees.  This berm is on the terrace above the one in the pix with my dog.



A short video of the Bobcat digging.  Click the picture to view the video.


Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2202
Location: FL
    
  58
"Glenn Kangiser " wrote:Hmm ... I hope nobody objects my use of machinery to make my hugelkultur bed.

Them trees are HEAVY!! 
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
Yes they were - probably 4000 to 5000 lbs there - one was a 16 footer.

I ended up with around 12 logs in there.

Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
Here is the bed after I dug it out around 12' x 25' x 30 inches - roughly 25 yards came out of there.



                                        


Joined: May 01, 2010
Posts: 32
Glen, I too live in  California gold country.  My wife and I purchased three acres in Shingle Springs last year.  Our area looks very similar to yours in terms of vegetation, soil, slope, ect . . .I too have been thinking about terraces and swales in order to conserve the water.  Looks like some terrascaping was done here in the past, but there are many areas that, despite being under a canopy of oaks and pines, the soil is hard clay with little organic matter to speak of, the topsoil just washes away down to the creek I guess.  (We live on a local high elevation point and our property does not span down to the creek).  Anyhow, my question is about trees.  What are you planting on your terraces that do well here in this climate?  I have some ideas of course , but would like to hear from somebody who has experience with what works and what doesn't in this particular area.  Also, given the poor drainage, what type of things should I look out for in terms of terracing, making hugelbeds, and constructing swales?  I'm afraid that I might end up washing out areas or causing ruts or something if too much rainwater is diverted into one direction and id doesn't have time to settle into the soil. 
 
 
subject: Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur article thread
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books