Hi folks. I signed up for Paul's email stuff recently and have been checking things out. I have a couple of large black walnut trees I want to fell and I was wondering what sort of things would grow on top of a large tree-filled raised bed? Would the "bad" stuff of black walnuts/wood leech far away from the beds or stay close? (depending on water flow maybe?)
Somebody mentioned a "list of things that grow near walnut trees"... can you share?
For various reasons I would like to build some 8 x 8 planters using corrugated steel and I guess Redwood or Cedar for a skeletal frame. I'm only able to get to my site on the weekends, it is too far to think about visiting during the week. I do not have a well. I have been hauling water to water some trees I planted this year. The site has a number of problems. For growing food, it really is not good soil for that now (alkaline). Also, there are a google of gophers! And ground squirrels too! Kangaroo Rats! and the San Juaquin Kit Fox! These are all burrowing creatures and I know I have two of the above, maybe more, on my little 2.5 acres. So I am thinking raised bed for sure, then comes the idea hugelkulture to save me from irrigating, but then the pests, I am not able to get rid of the gophers. No way Jose! No can do that! It is impossible unless you drop a nuclear bomb out there. The gophers own the land! It's theirs dammit, and no arguing about that! Ground squirrels are just as bad because what gophers do below ground, ground squirrels do above ground! So I'm thinking I'll have to build a cage around the hugelkultur bed as well, and I'm prepared to have to do this because I want my veggies and I don't want to spend the time and energy to feed squirrels, or gophers. So that's why I'm thinking corrugated steel for the sides and bottoms of the planters. What I want to know before trial and error and loss of time and money, is will this hugelkultur work in a closed planter made of steel? I was thinking I'd line it with a pond liner as well, because there are nail or screw holes in most of my corrugated steel panels.
H Ludi Tyler wrote: My kitchen garden is gradually turning into one large sunken hugel bed. Here it is presently:
Looking good. Is it still growing with our record hot weather? How old is your hugel bed? Have a new hugel bed that I dug back in April. Didn't make a difference with my garden. Most of my garden plants got scorched from the sun. Need to try more ollas next time, drip irrigation, and lots of shade cloth if it's hot like this next year. Have some plants in containers that I have to keep shaded to survive. Want to develop more of my acre homestead in a permaculture way, with sunken and raised beds, swales, trenches, and need help with planning it out. Have an 8 percent gradual slope from the backyard towards the front and the road. Had someone come out to give an estimate on gray water who was into permaculture but didn't seem to have much experience. Know of a group or anyone in the central Austin area I can get to come out and give me some advice? Besides growing my own edibles, I'm thinking this drought problem is going to be a recurring problem here and want to be best prepared.
Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
Finally a good use for Scotch broom! Scotch broom is one of the most expensive widespread invasive plants on the West Coast of North America. Hundreds of millions have been spent in vain attempts at eradication. My 1 km/half-mile long road grows an ample supply on both sides. Broom is a legume in the pea family. I have included it in garden beds. The woodiness of broom makes it a good sponge and it doesn't rob the soil of nitrogen. Broom mixed with other woody material produces a good first season growing medium and expedites the breakdown of other wood. My use of it was rather haphazard and I still had excellent results.
I have had good success in controlling broom by lopping off all of the branches during or just after it blooms. When I'm done lopping the plants looked like Joshua trees and a hot summer in the sun without foliage usually kills them. This method avoids soil disturbance. Spreading seed is not an issue since the seeds are not ripe and if your land has Broom you've got millions of seeds everywhere anyway. I've used the lopped off branches in garden beds and as a mulch for young tree seedlings. Most of my land was logged 10 years ago. Young trees which were mulched with broom regenerated much faster than those which were left alone. The broom provides nitrogen, and moisture retention. The soil on my slopes is a low grade of gravel and becomes quite hot when exposed to the sun and the broom mulch really improved conditions for young seedlings.
The supply of broom is endless. Various community groups have broom eradication drives from time to time. They clear it from parks and nature preserves. Provided they do this at the right time of year you'll get plenty of biomass without mature seed. I have charged for broom removal along private roadsides since it tends to encroach to the point of closing off some narrow driveways.
So here's a simple way to get plenty of nitrogen rich fertilizer and get paid to gather it
QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
Thanks for all this great info! Here in east texas we get loads of rain, most of which runs off. Summers have been very dry, but the occasional 1/2 inch down poor than runs off and dries up. What if I put a field line over the logs and ran out a pipe to catch the run off water and place it into the wood? Perhaps I could cap it off during times of heavy rain. It seems to me that with out clay soil it would take a long time to get the wood soaked. What do you think?
Seems like putting water directly into the wood may provide a way to quickly capture runoff water.
escogidositio wrote: Somebody mentioned a "list of things that grow near walnut trees"... can you share?
A walnut guild:
WalnutNeeds no intro I think. Currants Hackberry a wildlife food. domesticated versions for people too. secrete a competition-suppressing substance; an intriguing harmony vibrates between these two allelopathic trees. The toxins from the two species almost seem to complement each other. Juglone, though stunting the growth of many plants, doesn’t have much effect on grass, whereas hackberry’s toxins inhibit grasses and other shallow-rooted plants.
Thats the main guild, but we can be more productive...
Chiltepine a perennial, is the feral parent of the chile pepper and bears habañero-hot half-inch fruits.
Wolfberry is a thorned shrub that drops its leaves in severe drought and holds berries relished by birds. Both are members of the Solanaceae, the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplants.
Russian olive. Nitrogen Fixer Elaeagnus, will also work, as the drought-tolerant Elaeagnus species seem insensitive to juglone. ceanothus, or, in the Southwest, Apache plume may also work.
pepper tomatoes eggplant
mulberry as a border/transition tree to other guilds.
Great to see all these hugelbeds (hillbed is a perfect English translation I would say) spreading around the globe. Perhaps my remarks have already been mentioned before in the (whopping) previous 15 pages.
Only when you're in a temperate zone with flatlands and rainfall spread evenly throughout the year, I think you can have a fun experience with this. Otherwise I think it's a lot of work and frustration (and for me that's not permaculture).
When you're on a hillside Sepp Holzer advises to make these beds "off" contour. Again, this makes sense in temperate climates. In arid climates with rainfall only in a short period of time, you want the hugelbed also act as a swale on contourline. You also want to plant the hugelbed with shrubs and adding at the downhill foot of the hugelbed some soil fixing trees against erosion. Making these beds "off" contour without the trees, will only increase the erosion.
In arid climates (and the whole Mediterranean coastline is developing into an arid climate, so be aware of some shocking climate change results in the coming decades) you will always need drip irrigation to keep your hugelbed humid. Without additional water, somewhere during the dry season, your hugelbed will turn into a sun-burnt, wind-eroded pile of dry logs again. When you have an uphill lake that brings water through gravity, this is fine with me. Otherwise pumping up the irrigation water makes the concept a technocratic gardening solution and hardly perma(nent!)culture.
In arid regions you want the opposite of a hugelbed and for lacking a proper expression perhaps I would use the term "craterbed". A plant-bed that has been "cut out" so that all the water that is falling, sinks into the bed that is heavily mulched during the rain-season. Footpaths could be covered with impermeable plastic and bark chips so that the rainwater is directed into the crater-beds. When the dry season sets in, the crater-beds are covered under a sunroof or deciduous trees and shrubs should provide enough shadow. This way you keep the water as long as possible in place.
Here in Portugal I have seen soils (sardonically called "backed ceramics" drying out towards a meter deep during the burning hot Summer. Only Cork Oak and Olive can survive that. Unlucky enough the chainsaw and the JCB (bulldozer) are the favorite tools over here, so it is the Canas (Reed) and barren land that remains.
In the valleys it is the opposite situation. In the rain-season these areas are so wet that you can only grow waterplants, so to speak. The problem is that erosion has flushed all the fertile loamy soil into the valley. You are sinking knee-deep into this mud bath. In the dry season the sand contents in the soil lets the water table drop to around two meters deep or more: to deep for plants to reach it. The solution is to bring this fertile soil uphill on terraces in the dry season (and plant trees to prevent new erosion) and have a water basin in the valley that during the next rain season fills up gradually (because you made hugelbeds/crater-beds/swales uphill, the rain water trickles more slowly downhill).
I am curious about additional solutions (photos and/or videos, anyone?) for arid climates.
Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
Hi Marc - welcome to the forum!
I'm so jealous that you've found a bit of Portugal with soil a meter deep - mine's about 7", or 17 cm.
I think it's time we started a separate thread for hugelculture experiments in Mediterranean climates. I'm in total agreement that I don't think the 'hill' bit is appropriate for our climate unless drip irrigation is also used (though I'd love to be proved wrong on that), and in my case craterculture is a bit of a non-starter as I don't think I have enough depth of soil. I've been thinking of using a kind of half-way house - maybe a log half buried, and then a low, flat topped hill built over it, with the edges protected by stones or bricks to prevent wind erosion over the summer.
The other problem I have with 'hills' is where to find the soil to build them with - it's in terribly short supply round here...
Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water. eat rice.
After enlightenment - gather sticks, catch water, eat cabbage!
Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
I have to say I am so thrilled with my "hugelpits." The garden is retaining moisture wonderfully even in our 95-100F temperatures and no rain. I still irrigate every few days but not nearly as often as before. I think this is definitely the secret to gardening in the soil here.
I am slowly making my way thru the huglekultur thread and have decided to try it. When people say "brush" - [I am on Page 1] - does the brush need to be dried as opposed to green? I am thinking of compost, in which it makes a difference as to what is green and what is "brown", and wonder if "brush" as used as part of a pile to grow things in should be brown.
Thanks for this great idea! I've been wondering what to do in an uncultivated plot. Thought about raised beds - the usual raised beds, made with planks. This is much more exciting and will be educational too.
burra i live in a hot Mediterranean climate. and i build my hugel beds 3/4 underground. and the underground part is set up like a swale before the wood goes in. so any water that does go in the "swale" is trapped and wicks up to the top 1/4 of the bed keeping it evenly moist.
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
Burra, try one bed this way: scrape off the topsoil, from the bed and the surrounding path areas. Reserve it (put it on a tarp so you don't lose any of it). Dig down for your bed and toss out the subsoil -- put it someplace that needs some fill (and if there's topsoil there, move it and put it back on top of the subsoil). Fill the pit about halfway with wood, brush, or whatever. Then put the topsoil back in, keeping it below the edges of the pit.
Hi- New to hugelkultur and I also have a good amount of wooded area that is broken up by wetlands. Accessing can be troublesome if you are not wearing boots. So I was wondering if I could use the the methods of hugelkultur to build a walking bridge of soil/land to cross through the wetlands. All while building plants that could co-habitate in the wetland on the edge of the mound w/ clover on the top
Please let me know what you think....
Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
Joined: Dec 18, 2009
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
paul wheaton wrote: Added a new image to the article
The Wild Party... teeming with life, Huguelbed bustling with activity _Great_ image...!<>!
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I would not do that. There will always be this nagging concern in the back of your mind. Will it be ok or not? Put wood in covered with compost and leaves or hay/straw with at least a foot of soil on top. (as per old time recipes) and you'll know it will turn out just fine.
Joined: Sep 09, 2009
DigitalGunsmith wrote: I was thinking if we cut the boxes so they laid flat as a single layer, and then rolled them up tight into a log, we could use them in beds. Would cardboard work this way?
I'm sure cardboard would do something, the question is would it do what you want...
With all the extra surface area that corrugated cardboard has I think it would be likely to break down in the first year. It would be cool if you A/B'd it against a bed with wood.
If you're going to do it I would just stack it flat, a foot or so thick. I think any rolling you do would add more airspace.
Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
I was thinking the same thing, milt, to just stack it flat. Less work, too!
I don't remember remember reading NOT to put fresh wood into hugelkulture beds. I put a freshly felled Mimosa buried a few feet deep in a sunken, in-ground Hugel-Bed and only a month or so later up pops a new Mimosa tree! Perhaps it depends on the type of tree
I have other trees to cut down - should I dry them all first if to be used for Hugelkulture?
Is this a known way of tree re-propagation or copppicing?
First photo - parents-in-law doing the hard work. Second photo - Next to the composter, a multi-branched, brand new Mimosa looking acting like I planted it on purpose.
Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Location: zone 7
Perhaps it depends on the type of tree
yes, trees like mimosa will resprout from buried branches even root cuttings. im pretty sure ive mentioned not to use fresh mimosa before but oh well! yes let it dry out and its good to go.
I'm from miami, fl and during the summer we get a lot of rain in fact its typical to get a down pour every afternoon in the summer. So I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on on how to make the hugelkultur method work best in my area. Our winters are actually our dry season and in the last few years during that time we are in a drought and having a raised bed that can help during that time would be great.
I would also love any suggestions on where to find wood. I live in the urban area but thankfully its one of the older neighborhoods so the yards are big compared to new construction, our yard is just a little under a quarter of an acre. My ultimate goal would be to produce enough food to share with my sister and mother, we all live a block away from one another and they are willing to help with any of the heavy lifting to get the garden set up.
thank you all for your time and thanks for any advice you can share
Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Anticipating next season to test hugelkultur in the far north. It seems like this would be an excellent way to deal with a couple of issues which are problematic up here (Fairbanks, Alaska): cold soil and a short growing season. Tall narrow beds should thaw early and warm up well. I've got a test hugelbeet ready and waiting; it's 5x20 and about 4 feet tall. Just had our first lingering snow last night. This should be interesting.
"I must Create a System, or be enslaved by another Man's"--William Blake
Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Ready for spring.
subject: Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur article thread