Interesting comments. My bed is not that big..for a terrace..that is.
it is just very awkward to reach the top..not too high..just too far to reach across to the top without bracing myself one foot up..(and yes where the foot went was already planted with cold weather seeds..and the top was gertting warm weather seeds (corn, squash, etc.)..so that wasn't easy at all.
Also finding that it is drying out really fast on the very top so it has to be watered (probably the wind and 90 plus days with a couple weeks of no rain, getting rain now)..
I don't mean to sound difficult here, I do love the hugel bed..but just wanted to let those shorter people know that reaching the top without stepping on the bed could be quite difficult..I haved it planted and am glad to have it done. Still need to mulch after the seeds are all up..which should help with the dryness problem
As for the flat hugel type beds (trenches with wood buried in them ) they work quite well and are much easier for me to access.
Here are photos of the bed that I'm having trouble reaching the top on..when it was built last fall..it was built by a tractor so I wasn't able to realize that it would bed a problem until I planted it this spring.
I walked around and took some baby pictures of my trees in the food forest gardens today and posted some on my blog (computer was giving me fits so I didn't get as many posted as I would have liked to but it will give you some idea of what is growing here)
I have one standard peach on each end of my hugel bed..they are actually ON the ends of the bed but also will root down into the ground BESIDE the ENDS of the big logs in my hugel bed..they also seem to be doing fine, and are leafing out.
This bed is MUCH TOO HIGH to plant on top of with anything like a tree..i could barely reach the top to get corn seed in..and a few transplants of squash, cabbage and broccoli (which I planted cause they don't require a lot of "tending" as I'm just to short to "tend" the top
I don't know about Josef, but mine was totally free..I just used some logs that were gettin punky and some large chunks of wood that wouldn't split easily as well as some branches and bark and chips in mine....have owned the tractor for a long time, son ran the tractor, and the soil came from the hole..so free
As per Pauls advice I did make my hugelkulture bed that I built last fall higher than I had in the past..and thought ..wow I'm doing great with this.
Well I went to plant it this spring and realized..I'm too short for a Tall hugelkulture bed.
No too much of a problem planting the sides with mixed greens for salads, "FAIRLY" easy to reach, but still have to bend some to reach the higher up patches..
I planted a whip of a peach tree seedling on each end, those are doing well and put some spinach and cosmos around those..so far...and some char logs
But OMG the top is a complete another story..
On the very top I have seeded sweet corn and put in some winter squash transplants, broccoli and red and green cabbage transplants..UNFORTUNATELY I had to put ONE FOOT up on the side of the bed and reach like heck to reach to top of the bed (not good) and then it was still very difficult to plant..
I think next time I'm going to stick to doing it like I did on my other beds...dig down about 2' ..fill with wood and or chips and compost and other stuff..then add back on the soil..much lower.
we have emerald ash borers in our white ash, and the medium to medium large trees all come back fine when cut down, but the extremely large ones didn't..so I would say they are good for coppice..but the borers are still here..
Duane, that is what I hope to do this year, as I have also read how beneficial they are and I have a lot of alder, willow and aspen available..as well as branches of my nitrogen fixers like baptisia and autumn/russian olives.
we did put some french drains across our property to carry off the excess water..we have the ditches and pond, but we still have standing water eveyr spring and if we get heavy rain, that is just the way with clay..you learn to determine the drier areas for your fruit trees etc..and then allow the rest to be pasture, water lovers, ponds, swamps, woodsy areas of water lovers (here we use red maple, alder, ash, aspen and wild cherry for the woodsy areas as well as some black spruce,hemlock and cedar.
I see you aren't getting a lot of answers here, so I'll jump in although I know nothing about your zone..
OK I'm in zone 4/5 ..Michigan..I find that the best things for me to chop and drop are things with large leaves..
I use a lot of comfrey, and also use the leaves when I harvest rhubarb.
I chop down the large leaves of my horseradish plants as well to use as mulch and I go out in the byways on my property and gather things like milkweed as they have large leaves as well.
I have read that you can also cut small leafy branches off things like willow and alder etc..to use as mulch..i haven't done that yet..but would be careful not to BURY anything that might root in the garden esp the willow branches..just lay them on top.
I have no hay or straw available easily around here as there is a huge hay shortage from Michigan's drought, so I have to make do
a wonderful beginning..so much fun to get started and see the babies coming. I plant a few new baby trees every year..some of my adults are bearing but I always have tiny babies going in..dozen or so each year.
yes you can dig some logs in around your newly planted trees, I've done that..you can also place logs on the soil around the newly planted grees, they act kinda like nurse logs and they keep the damaging forces out there away from your baby tree, mark it well, and rot and feed it..brush piles are also helpful around young fruit trees...i've done all 3
I have about a 24' long hugelbed I also finished up in November of last year. I was a bit concerned about the fruit trees falling over also as I was planting standards..so I planted them up into the ENDS of the hugel bed..they are up about 2' from the bottom on the sloped end..and there are spots where logs are even sticking out (buggers)..after the heavy winter snows and rains..so I'll have to probably put on some more soil there.
I planted 2 standard peach trees, one a hale haven and one a red haven..they are just unbranched whips and when I planted them I made sure there was plenty of SOIL at the roots..so far I haven't gotten any MULCH around them yet as my mulch plants aren't up enough to chop and drop yet here in Michigan..but I did put some charred logs around them and have made sure they haven't dried out.
I put them in a couple weeks ago and am getting some baby green leaves growing now..so things are looking up for the hugelbed.
I have lettuce along the center of one side..and spicey italian and spiecy asian greens on the other side..along the top of one side i have planted 16 transplants of cabbage and the other side 4 transplants of broccoli (that's all I had)..the top is waiting on some festivity OP corn and some squash when the weather stabilizes (forcast of 26 for this coming sunday)
in my rear garden i have some super dwarf and dwarf apple trees growing in beds that were made with buried bark and wood chips covered over with soil and compost and they are doing very well...but they aren't tall like this new bed
if you have to tear up a garden area anyway, go ahead and toss in some branches and /or chips or logs or anything you might have laying around while you are preparing..if you have the time and effort available..it can't hurt
we had a need to cool down our wood furnace once this winter and hubby threw some charred logs on the snow ..so I placed them around my peach trees on either end of my hugelbed that I built last year..I'm not sure what benefit they'll have, but they are there..also there were some broken pieces of char that ended up on the bed as it is near the wood furnace shed door..and it got ash and chunks of coals thrown on it in the winter.
right now there isn't a lot planted on the hugelbed as I hope to put some more tender things on it in a few weeks..but it is growing a nice crop of lettuce, spicey spring and spicey italian mix and I just put on some cabbage and broccoli transplants.
alkalinity should work well for all of the above mentioned plants
I'm hoping to be able to update my photos on here for this spring and am praying that the 26 degrees they are forcasting for this Sunday doesn't kill all of our fruit buds again this year. So far nut much photographed but I'll share 2 for this spring.
the first photo is a photo of what WAS sold as a fruit cocktail tree..but only one of the grafts lived so it is a ? tree, but we have blossoms and the mason bees have been working them so there is hope as well. Also there are other fruit trees in this bed area as well but they are also ?'s as they came up from roots of stumps of fruit trees that died at the grafts..so I'm not sure what we'll get from those if anything..but they are also in bloom.
this bed is in an ornamental garden in front of my living room window where I have bird feeders year around (on my blog you can see deer feeding here in the front yard). This bed contains a real mix of things but there are common lilacs, purple leaf smoke bush, hosta, roses both climbing and landscape with huge hips, hibiscus, iris both bearded and siberian, sweet peas, peonies, hydranges, lychnis, sweet william, daylillies, etc.etc. etc.
It will be fun to see what ripens on these trees as they come into fruit.
Photo number 2 is a baby North Star Dwarf cherry tree, I planted 2 but the top part of the other died and I'm not sure if it will come back. I have a lot of other cherries on the property but this little baby is showing me some fruit blossoms for the first time this year (maybe a few last year but they froze). This is planted on the North side of our house where the other photo is on the south. This has a lot of different things planted around it but also includes hostas and lilacs, goatsbeard, privit, red leaf barberry, spireas, ferns, monkshood, siberian and bearded iris, mint, violets, strawberries, pachysanddra, vinca, roses, alberta spruce, honeysuckles, autumn olive, and much much more.
Hoping for a nice crop of cherries this year (I have sweet, sour, bush, ornamental and wild cherries on the property as well as chokecherries which make a lovely jelly). This tree is on a slight slope away from the house and is partially protected by a hedge of black spruce and overhung by a huge paperbark maple tree.
Hope to get more food forest photos soon, but in Michigan here, we are still just starting to have buds opening...and most of the perennials are still just little sprouts.
if you dig out a pond or some ditches for drainage it will be helpful..but the mulch and hugel beds will also help..my area is very high water table and heavy clay but I don't have a hill draining down on me really..just the entire neighborhood..
I would highly encourage you to plant apples from seeds..we have had more than a dozen apple trees grow from discarded apples here and all of them were wonderful, edible apples..so don't let those discourage you that would say not to try...please.
Unfortuantely when we had our housefire some of the old apple trees ..and unfortunately some of the best I've eaten, had to be removed for the new house..but honestly they were wonderful, I still have 3 of the old trees bearing that are all different and all lovely..and I miss the ones that had to go.
thanks for the info. I have tried paw paw here and haven't been able to get them to start yet, have elderberry and currant in other areas, think the area is too wet for currants but would probably work OK for elderberries. Really am more interested in canopy trees than shrubs at this point, as the canopy trees could drain off some of the excess moisture.
right now in our wetter areas we have red maple, canadian hemlock, tag alder, quaking aspen and wild black cherry that are growing, but would love to have something that produces food if anyone has any ideas..this is also a zone 4/5 area so they would have to be extremely hardy.
I am putting annual vegetables on right away to get the ground covered but also plan to put on perennial crops as I am able to do so. I have in a pot a maximillian sunflower and I have plans to put comfrey near each peach tree. I also have some kiwi vines in pots waiting for frostfree weather to plant them out and am THINKING of maybe putting them on a trellis over this hugelbed, but I'm not sure about that yet..and would appreciate opinions. Kiwi like moist soil and the soil at the base of this hugelbed is wet..as there is a high water table in this area. Kiwi also like partial shade which they would get from the peach trees, however I'm not really sure if I want to shade the entire bed with a trellis supporting the kiwi or not. If I did it would work well for things like salad greens like I'm putting on it this spring, and it is just a few steps away from our east deck (i was standing on that deck taking the above photographs) . the deck has pear trees planted along it's length, you can see the shadows of some of the pear trees in the photos above. The kiwi I have are the smaller very hardy ones ..one male and 4 female..I was thinkinig of just planting the male and one or two females on this area and the other females maybe over a trellis on the deck, which would be close to the male for polllination...I know very little other than what I have read about growing kiwi.
I had 4 standard peach trees come this spring, I put two in sandy soil in our rear food forest area, but I am trying something with 2 others, a Red Haven Peach and a Hale haven peach standard. I put on on each end of my new baby hugelbed. they aren't on the very top, they are on the ends, where the ends of the logs are covered with topsoil and slopes down. They are smallish whips with good roots on them. I have planted one side of the hugelbed this spring with mixed lettuces and the other side with mixed microgreens spicey asian and spicey italian blends..It is too early here in Michigan to plant much on that bed..but I do have plans for beans, corn and squash on the top of the bed and probably spinach along the bottom wettest area among other things.
I was wondering has anyone done something similar with fruit (or peach) trees on their hugelbeds and how has it worked out for you.
The photos were taken last fall when we finished building the bed, but before planting.
we have naturally grown shaggy mane, oyster and morel that grow in our woods and we have also innoculated logs with shiitake and lions mane mushrooms..We are also planning on chipping some alder and aspen to try some substrate innoculation soon
we have 3 very old apple trees, one of them is in our woods, and hopefully this year we will find out what kind of apples are on it, as we had killing frosts so it hasn't born since we discovered it. We have cleared a lot of the shading trees around it recently and have cleaned up around the base so we can get to the apples when they bear. We do know the apples are RED as we saw some at the very top that we couldn't get to the year we found the tree, but since we haven't had bearing weather..this year we should have.
nothing wrong with leaving the apples in the woods and cleaning up dead branches and opening them up to some sunshine..if you are able to get to them to harvest them..and also you can graft other good apple varieties on them if scion wood is available to you.
Apple do tend to do OK in woods as long as they aren't overly shaded..they do need sun to get fruit..so keeping a small area around them clear will be helpful.
Hi Dave, love the books, read them twice. I have edible forest gardens all over my property in North Central Michigan. I have a couple areas that are giving me fits trying to figure out what to plant there though, it is a mucky wet area zone 4/5 hardiness. This area has some aspen and wild cherry growing as well as some tag alders along one side, but I would like to plant some food forest plants in the area and there is some openings in the canopy as well as a lot of trees dying (ash from emerald ash borer and aspens from old age)..so more canopy layer is opening up all the time.
There is heavy forest duff and good topsoil of black mucky stuff..and I want to put in some edible forest trees, shrubs, plants etc. Can't use blackberry in there as there is orange rust on the wild ones in the area..but would really love some suggestions from Dave or anyone dealing with a similar situation. This area does not really dry out completely but there are some drier areas on the fringes.
Elsewhere on the property we have willow and weeping willow so those are not of interest to us to plant here, we also have ponds with cattails so those aren't wanted either.
It is ridiculous that people think they cannot afford the books to learn about any subject and especially not regarding forest gardening, I borrowed many of the books I've lead from lending libraries, and the books mentioned in the book thread on my winter reading list thread have all been available from the library for a very short wait to have them shipped in.
Dave Jackes books are available, that is where I read them the first time was from a lending library..I even suggest you borrow them and read them before buying them if you aren't sure. There are some on the list I have recommended buying but many are fine just borrowing and reading and taking extensive notes.
This is very exciting and I'm so happy for you and those that will join your evil empire. I had a thought that maybe I might be able to do some cuttingis of plants off of my property in the fall so that they might be ready for you the following spring, if my health holds out enough (recovering from pneumonia right now and lower back is in terrible pain)..can't do much but I might be able to do that. If I'm able to get you any cuttings that I could ship to you I'll let you know but you won't be ready for them until the trac work is done anyway.
boy do I know where Mike is cominig from, I keep planting fruit and nut trees knowing I'll likely die before they are in full production. My son has no real interest in the fruits and nuts and he is not married and has no children..so honestly there is no real heir here either.
I have discussed this with him and we have some thoughts of where the land might go after we are gone..but really want someone who will take care of all the work I've done ..and those type of people are few and far between
if there are no sewer piles or water pipes in the area..at least 100 feet..put in willow trees,they will suck up a lot of the extra water and clean it..cattails will also clean the water..that is what they use in a lot of water filtration areas..but the homeowners assoc might not allow?? possibly bamboo..but you wouild want that above retaining wall and rhizome barrier to keep it from the rest of the yard.
could dig a pond?? put in the cattails in shallow edge areas..but you'll need an overflow most likely
some grocery stores also sell plants of course in the garden centers but also in the herb areas of the produce department..you could plant root ends of plants like celery, etc..and you could get seeds from really ripe produce as well, I've actually had sprouting seeds inside of apples before as well. The spice aisle might have caraway, dill, fennel and anise seeds all of which are insectary plants. some good ideas here.
I wouldn't buy seed packets from grocery stores, they only have a couple dozen seeds where you can get them by the ounce or thereabouts from mail order..much cheaper.