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Wrong Hugelkulture

David Bates

Joined: Dec 05, 2011
Posts: 79
Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario, Canada
About three years ago we decided to turn an eroding slope into a garden and I (in my infinite wisdom) started pulling all the dead wood and fallen trees off the hill... and I made a little terrace from some of the old logs... the idea being that soil running off the fields would end up in the terrace and I would have built my own Machu Picchu (which presumably would last for thousands of years feeding millions of people).

Now, three years later I have a pretty barren flat of clay/mud surrounded by rotten logs and a big brush pile. Here are some pictures, the first picture shows the glory of Machu Picchu's single, crappy garden plot with accompanying brush fence and the second picture is a different view, showing the "Back Hoe" that I brought in to fix my mistake.

Here the loverly Back Hoe shows the pile of three year old rotting wood that will soon become a proper garden (instead of the mess I had made).

I also have a picture of the (long haired, bearded hippie) Bull Dozer that is now gathering up the rotting wood and throwing it onto the slope in piles with paths between them. Later the Bull Dozer and the Back Hoe will be piling straw, muck from our Swamp and some of the clay and gravel from up the hill onto the wood and starting a better (and hopefully more productive garden).

I am *so* glad that I read about growing stuff on piles of rotting wood at Permies. As you can probably see we only have older, lazy machinery around the place and doing things the right way (with the energy we choose to spend) will certainly be more productive that screwing up so badly (again).

much of what my neighbours consider to be good I consider to be bad
Jeanine Gurley

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1393
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
I can't see any of your pictures but I can only guess, by your description, that you have the makings of a good permaculture garden. I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing more about it.

1. my projects
David Bates

Joined: Dec 05, 2011
Posts: 79
Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario, Canada
Jeanine Gurley wrote:I can't see any of your pictures

Thank's Jeanine, I fixed them. Our place is awesome for permaculture, Jeanine. There are dozens of these "brush fences" around that we made by gathering up the wood left by the previous owner (when he used the place as a firewood lot). I'm beside myself with glee that we set it all aside and that it's so old now.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
i have been piling the brush, trunks, etc up all over my property for a long time, eventually it will break down and rot and baby plants will grow up and through them.

I have also used some of the scrap wood around baby plants I already have on the property, like say baby maple and oak trees, set the brushy stuff around the babies and the stuff rots and feeds the babies as well as protect the babies from browsers and weather.

I have made hugel beds, but coming up with the soil to cover them is difficult on our flat property here, so a lot of my piles are just brush rather than hugel..i call them my habitats for inhumanity


Bloom where you are planted.
L. Jones

Joined: Apr 29, 2012
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
Well, I turn out to have been "wrong hugeling" for years in a different direction.

I pile horse manure on my brushpiles - the goal being to get the brushpile to break down (much) faster than an open pile, and a long-term result being more humus for moving elsewhere. Since I have not been building brush piles in sunny areas, and I usually keep adding brush (and eventually more manure) to them, I haven't been planting them.

Slower, but a lot less annoying than a brush chipper. Guess I could start building some in the sun and planting them. The compost heap crops won't miss soil any more than they do on the compost heap.

Muddling towards a more permanent agriculture. Not after a guru or a religion, just a functional garden.
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Wrong Hugelkulture