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Hugelkultur question -- Can I immediately sow seeds in new bed?

 
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Hi, I have a tree I cut down and have several small limbs and twigs that have been sitting in a pile since September (fall) of last year.   I am building a couple new 4' x 4' raised garden beds 18" deep.

Can I put say 6 inches of branches and twigs at the very bottom of the new beds, fill with dirt to 12" and then top with compost / peat the remaining 6 inches.. and then immediately sow my spring garden into them?

Or will the small limbs and twigs draw too much nitrogen from the compost and make the new soon to be seedlings suffer?

My goal is to save money on the disposal of the limbs and twigs, and fill soil for the bed.
 
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You likely want to get a cover crop in there to deter unwanted travellers. Why not sow some nitrogen fixing chop-n-drop to enhance the soil?
 
Jennifer Lowery
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Simon Gooder wrote:You likely want to get a cover crop in there to deter unwanted travellers. Why not sow some nitrogen fixing chop-n-drop to enhance the soil?



What is "nitrogen fixing chop-n-drop"?  Sorry I am a newbie.  I just started gardening in the fall, built four 4' x 4' raised beds 18" deep.  I want to add two more in the next few days so I can start my spring crop.   I'd like to have all six beds producing me vegetables this spring.  Have no clue what chop & drop is sorry.  I feel dumb!
 
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Hi Jennifer, I think you can sow seeds right away.  With a tall/steep hugel you want to sow them immediately and mulch so that the seeds can knit the soil together before the hugel falls apart in a heavy rain.

For what it sounds like you're doing, the erosion is less of an issue but seeds can still go in immediately.  The nitrogen sucking of the twigs is likely only an issue within a millimeter of the twigs (if at all) so I wouldn't worry about it.

You may do just fine by skipping the peat by the way.  I hear it's not that renewable a resource.

And you're not dumb at all.  Simon just hit you with some permaculture jargon that we all eventually learn.  

Chop and drop is when you hack down undesirable plants and use them to mulch your desired plants.  Nitrogen fixer is a plant that makes nitrogen and puts it into the soil, especially when it's chopped or killed.  Legumes and clovers are common nitrogen fixers but there are many.

So I believe Simon's suggesting that you plant something like clover, alfalfa, peas or other nitrogen fixers and then hack them down once they get some decent growth on them and mulch the bed with them.  If you have a long enough season that you could do that prior to planting your garden, it's an option.  If it would consume your whole growing season, I'd likely just plant my veggies and take it from there.

Good luck and we're here for you :)
 
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