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Permaculture architect? Zone 5b central Illinois

 
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Hello Permies,

I'm fairly new to all things gardening. I've been doing a lot of watching videos and reading gardening stuff. We have a bit of land I was thinking would be great to have a huglekulter permaculture food forest with around fifteen fruit and nut trees, but it's going to be a lot of work to set up. My husband is not convinced that huglekulter would be a good fit for our area (the flatlands of Illinois, zone 5b,) and isn't sure he wants to do the work to find that it doesn't. THEREFORE, we talked about finding a permaculture architect/designer/?? someone who has done a huglekulter orchard in our area that we could talk to, maybe hire, to look at our site and let us know if it would be worth our time and effort to do things in said way or advise us as to how it would be best to move forward. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

~Cheryl~

 
pollinator
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Welcome to permies!

Hugels are pretty applicable darn near everywhere... unless made of black locust or some other ridiculously rot resistant wood, the wood *will* decay, and decaying wood *will* hold moisture if there is water present.. eventually the wood will be gone and you will have soil. And yes, it's a lot of work, especially by hand.

A hugel is often not a very happy spot for a tree, though, because of all the settling that goes on during the aforementioned decay. The usual advice is not to plant trees in hugels, unless they are old hugels which hace finished rotting and settling. Ie... they have become a mound of lovely soil.

Nothing to say that the hugels and the orchard can't mingle, just not great to plop the trees right in hugels.


Hiring someone with local knowledge to help you do the site design and select the best trees/support plants for your site might be an excellent idea. I would be seeking demonstration sites or locally well-known permaculture designers; these people should have a portfolio, references, and ideally a site of their own..

Perhaps someone will happen along with a reccomendation; the odds would improve if you titled your thread to provide your location!
 
Cheryl lyrehc
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Welcome to permies!

Hugels are pretty applicable darn near everywhere... unless made of black locust or some other ridiculously rot resistant wood, the wood *will* decay, and decaying wood *will* hold moisture if there is water present.. eventually the wood will be gone and you will have soil. And yes, it's a lot of work, especially by hand.

A hugel is often not a very happy spot for a tree, though, because of all the settling that goes on during the aforementioned decay. The usual advice is not to plant trees in hugels, unless they are old hugels which hace finished rotting and settling. Ie... they have become a mound of lovely soil.

Nothing to say that the hugels and the orchard can't mingle, just not great to plop the trees right in hugels.


Hiring someone with local knowledge to help you do the site design and select the best trees/support plants for your site might be an excellent idea. I would be seeking demonstration sites or locally well-known permaculture designers; these people should have a portfolio, references, and ideally a site of their own..

Perhaps someone will happen along with a reccomendation; the odds would improve if you titled your thread to provide your location!



This is all very helpful. Thank you for responding!

My biggest question is, where do I find someone with local knowledge?

Speaking of hugels, I saw a video about a guy who was enthusiastic about hugels so he built three of them, but a few years (five, maybe?) two of them were very dry and not broken down like he had expected and plants didn't grow on them very well. The third one was often inundated with water from some runoff. That third one was thriving. I've noticed where I live, it seems we have a high water table. Then there are times of the year that are very rainy, which will over-fill the water table and there will be a lot of runoff. Then there are times of the year where it may not rain for way too long and the ground cracks from lack of moisture. I feel like that would make our place ideal for hugels, actually. The other thing about hugels that would be kind of a nice benefit, is that it is very windy here at times and having a high wall might be nice to slow the wind down from where the hugel is.

Thoughts on the orchard in a hugel... I saw a video where a lady put a tree on a thin hugel and then a tall hugel around the tree, which is kind of what I was thinking to do except on a larger scale. A thin hugel on the bottom, plant the fruit and nut trees, tall hugel around all of the trees (not each). Do you know if planting the trees on a thin hugel (as opposed to a tall hugel) would be better for the trees, or do you still think it would be better for the hugel to settle a bit first? If not good, would a good compromise be to plant the trees in the ground and then build a hugel around all the trees?

Thanks again for responding!
~Cheryl~
 
D Nikolls
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Glad it was some help!

I have only seen hugels immediately planted with trees and bushes once. It worked poorly.

On top of the settling issue, the soil and manure tends to wash down and erode. Many hugels are built withbless than optimal amounts of these to start with, and the planted stuff ended up exposed roots.

Rodents and insects can really enjoy the cavities created within a fresh hugel. Sometimes they also enjoy tree roots and bark. Sometimes they attract predators, in that case it was ducks, who ended up exacerbating the other issues trying to access the food within the hugel..

I think a hugel next to a tree has great potential, especially as it will be a bit older once the tree roots are getting into it. The wind protection is a great bonus function.

I would be inclined to not plant trees directly on an actively decaying hugel of any thickness, especially fresh... but if I were to do so I would focus on getting substantially rotten wood as a starting point, making sure erosion was a non-issue with either higher ground or very shallow slopes on all sides, and taking great care to compact it very well. And fencing out ducks if present on site!


I think you're very right about the high water table being helpful. I have always watered extensively in the beginning years to help things along. I am currently building a hugel which gets at least a foot of water in the bottom of the pit as the nearby pond overflows in winter rains, I have high hopes!

You don't want the whole mass to float or wash away though...
 
D Nikolls
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I tried a quick search and this caught my eye, it's possible these people could be a starting point... I have no personal knowledge of them.

https://www.permacultureproject.com/design-portfolio/padda/
 
Cheryl lyrehc
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Dillon Nichols wrote:I tried a quick search and this caught my eye, it's possible these people could be a starting point... I have no personal knowledge of them.

https://www.permacultureproject.com/design-portfolio/padda/



Thank you! That's really helpful! I looked, but couldn't find anything promising.

I hope your hugels do well!

I'm continuing reading and planning. I'll be getting some trees in this year, God willing. Maybe I'll post some of my ideas on this site to see what kind of input you and others have.
 
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