A.J. Gentry wrote: I was thinking in order for the wicking action of the hugel to work the water would have to have access to the decaying material.
Cj Verde wrote:
In one of the videos from Geoff Lawton's PDC, he shows a swale and the uncompacted mound of soil below the swale. I think he showed how the mound was wet at ground level and several inches above ground level, because it was wicking water up. He then said that was the only way you could make water move uphill - defying gravity - was though the capillary action of the uncompacted mound.
This was not a hugelkultur though. I'm not sure if it would work the same. The wood might break the capillary action, I don't know. I think an HK would hold water like a sponge but I'm not sure about wicking.
For your other question I don't think you want any exposed wood in an HK.
A.J. Gentry wrote:I am very happy to locate this thread as I am really trying to picture what a hugel / swale cold climate set up would look like. I was just listening to one of the podcasts -- #228. Paul and Geoff Lawton are talking swales. Size and depth. And I think they chat on / off contour (maybe not). I wrote down that Paul said 8 - 12 inch depth for the swale in a cold climate. But I don't know if that was for on contour or off... or both.
I will post my specifics --
Slope is 10 - 15 degrees from NW to SE
Average annual temperature 52.8 F
Average annual rainfall is 39.4 inches. With 27.7 inches of snow. (I admit I am not sure how to locate how much of this falls during the growing season.)
I have not put the beds in yet, but if they run N-S they would be 200'. If they run E-W they would be 60'. (E-W would be contour) These would be pretty tall. The land has a lot of rotten wood from old trees. So maybe 4-5' tall.
I guess my two main questions are (1) Does the bottom of the swale butt up against wood or soil? (I hope this makes sense or that I can explain better). Let's say I put in a swale E-W. I take my shovel and start to dig the swale at 12'' deep. Would I dig another trench (down slope) to toss the logs in then cover? OR do I dig my 12'' swale and put the wood (again down slope) on top of the soil? I was thinking in order for the wicking action of the hugel to work the water would have to have access to the decaying material. Most of my soil is clayey loam.
(2) Is there a way to both capture the water and let the cold run run downhill? These two things seems mutually exclusive to me. (Again a concept that is tough for me to visualize). If I were letting the cold air go wouldn't that mean I was off contour and therefore wouldn't be able to hold water? Should I even worry about water because of the rainfall in my area? Because of the size of the hugels and once they are in place for 2 years I won't have to worry about it anyway?
Is there a way to both capture the water and let the cold run downhill?
Should I even worry about water because of the rainfall in my area?
the only way you [can] make water move uphill - defying gravity - [is] though the capillary action of the uncompacted mound.
Wenona Boucher wrote:... So I have a high tunnel on the top where the hill flattens out and on the downslope toward the driveway I would like to put in a terrace that would catch the water coming off the high tunnel going down the hill before it got to the gully beside the driveway.
Wenona Boucher wrote: But now I've read that we shouldn't plant tree (according to some) in the hugel type plantings because of the wood breaking down and the whole thing sinking with that. Then I thought, of course, if I make a terrace with wood in it, it's going to get sink hole type areas and this is not going to be good!
Jesse Biggs wrote:
Once upon a time I started to breach this topic with Paul and he began to pull out his podcast recording apparatus and I got stage fright and declined participation. That means a few things. One, I am partially to blame for not having more of Paul's thoughts on this topic in podcast form. Two, I still don't know what he might have said since that was the end of the discussion. And three, I feel like I should try to participate in the convo now if only to interject my best guesses.
Jesse Biggs wrote:
Right away, that looks like A LOT of precipitation so I'm thinking swales aren't needed to hydrate your landscape.
Jesse Biggs wrote:
One of Paul's things is TEFA or Textured Earth Food All-year. He seems to purposely leave this vague. Just add lots and lots of texture. In my mind, that means something like do lots of experiments. Do lumpy stuff all over the place big and small, on and off contour, wood buried deep and wood higher up, wet and dry spots, hot and cold places, and plant all kinds of stuff and see what happens. Lots of edge. Work animal paddocks into it all somehow. It's hard to get into that patient kind of mind set but could be incredibly liberating. Do whatever the hell you want to see. You can always tweak it or do something totally different. Observe and interact.
Jesse Biggs wrote:
DON'T TRAP FROST
Karen Walk wrote:Sepp Holzer actually uses low areas to protect plants from frost. Huh? Let me explain :
In cold climates he has used crater gardens to protect plants from high winds and trap sun in the summer time. In the winter, the depression fills with snow, which insulates the plants. The snow in the crater garden lasts the longest, so it doesn't let the plants warm up and blossom until spring has really arrived. In the fall I guess the crater garden could capture cooler air, but it is also a sun trap, so has more heat stored in the earth and plant matter.
For season extension Sepp protects his plants from wind and places large heat-absorbing stones nearby. He also protects them from experiencing spring too early. While he doesn't state this outright, his success with this method leads me to believe that plants are more sensitive to radiant and convective heat transfer than conductive heat transfer.
In short, I think that the dangers of a frost pocket could be balanced by stones and water (thermal mass) and protecting plants from strong winds.
Zach Weiss wrote:
The wood in Hugelkulturs breaks down over time and destabilizes the mound. This is why Sepp would not plant trees in a hugelkultur, nor use them on contour like swales. I can imagine how a couple of years into decomposition a large rainfall event could cause a section of a hugel-swale to rupture. This means you would have to come through every couple of years with a machine for repairs. Ideally Sepp likes to come through with the machine once and then never touch it again. I can definitely see how this type of machine use would not be ideal for a developing agro-forestry system.