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First foray into Hugel mounds.

 
Posts: 8
Location: Southern Oregon
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I'm working up plans for Hugel mounds on my property. Decided to record my thoughts somewhere in the open, possibly benefiting from others experience.
My knowledge in agriculture is non existent, my past experiences are entirely business and management.

Large open area, slight variable slope to the west. Ground is permeable with moderately high stone content. Eastern hill slope delays morning sun exposure, western slope expedites loss of sun in evening. Wind generally travels north to south, strongest current during late afternoon, early evening.

Considering starting mounds on the north eastern side of the field, traveling west briefly and then curving to travel south for the majority of its length. At its end it will then curve westward. two or three rows following this pattern.

Majority of mound traveling north/south to allow consistent amount of sun exposure on both sides. Considered the curvature at the end to potentially mitigate drying from wind flow/wind tunneling. Would also look nicer(to me) than straight lines.

Do mounds benefit from level ground? If so, at what point does a slope become a negative? The mounds have a varying decrease in elevation from beginning to end. Potential of drip feed.

Minor excavation, 5-6' wide 1-2' deep. Mounds stacked 5'-6' high. Bulk of biomass is coniferous, pine and spruce. Cedar has been identified and removed from stockpile. Small amounts of oak, madrone, and manzinita. Pondering affects of pine/spruce and soil acidity. Blueberries?



If you chose to read this, thank you for your time.
I appreciate any thoughts or questions.


 
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Lied,

I wish I could specifically offer guidance to you on this project, but I do have to congratulate you on starting off with a text record for your own memory and potentially helping others on similar projects.

You came to the right place for advice and please keep this thread updated as your project progresses.

Eric
 
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Digging down into the soil first is a good practice.  Make sure that your wood is covered in soil.  If you are planting on top or side, make sure they are small plants, not trees.
John S
PDX OR
 
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Hugelkultur beds can work out really well--I love the ones I have on my wild homestead. Here are a few of my thoughts that you might find helpful.

I would not worry about wood from pine/spruce making the soil acidic. As acidic organic material breaks down it tends to become neutral. Acidic soils are generally created from moist/wet conditions with low oxygen and high organic material in the soil that decomposes very slowly (think bogs as a good example). Just adding acidic organic materials to the soil tends to not make the soil acidic. Here is a great and fairly short video that talks about this with a focus on pine needles



When you build you hugelkultur bed I would be careful to make sure gaps between the woody material are all filled in with soil, compost or animal manure. While this is not necessary it will make your hugel bed work better faster. Otherwise it will need a lot more time to settle out and it may even dry out in the short term if there is not enough soil added on top of it all.

I'm careful with mine to fill the gaps and then also add a nice thick topping of soil on top of it all. This can make the beds much more productive in the short run.

Good luck!
 
Lief Kamhout
Posts: 8
Location: Southern Oregon
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Soil acidity not a concern from acidic biomass.

Gaps in mass create potential of drying. Consider using duff with dirt and compost as filler.

Soil on site is excessively rocky, consider excavation in other locations to find more appropriate soil. Attempt to gather fill dirt from another parties site.

Seek information on result of using rocky soil in mounds. Assume it is best to avoid. Potential consideration, construction of large sifter for stone removal.

Do not plant trees on top or side of mound. Seek info on appropriate proximity of trees to mounds. Will trees in vicinity benefit from mounds?

Year close to end, attempt to plant into mound once completed, or merely mulch. Should mound be completed in spring? Possibly prep area and organize biomass by size, lay mounds early spring. More info needed.
 
Lief Kamhout
Posts: 8
Location: Southern Oregon
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Been busy so I haven't gotten around to adding to this.

Biomass in the form of rotting and fresh'ish logs have been added to fill the trench.

Trench is 6 feet (nearly 2m) wide 3-4 feet (roughly 1m) deep, and roughly 150 feet (45m) long.

I got a little carried away with digging down at first, but decided to just go with it due to the massive amount of debris in my surrounding forest.

I've kept cedar out on the advice that it is allelopathic, I'm now hearing that is not the case, and it just doesn't rot quickly. Curious to why that is, research needed.

We recently had to clear a lot of the smaller trees from near my home in an effort to keep insurance, they are bailing on most rural home owners due to the severity of fire.

I've been packing the logs with dirt in between them as best as I can, using sprinklers to try and help carry the dirt into pockets.

I've removed larger rocks, and built a large sifter that I put over the trench to dump dirt onto, it had mixed success and I eventually abandoned it.

I have more logs to add, and then I will be bucking up small sticks and leaves to place over them, and then finally covering with the better quality dirt I have.

Work was going quickly at first, but is starting to slow down, that's a lot of wood.

Anyone wanna come move sticks? lol





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