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Cactus based Hugelkultur

 
pollinator
Posts: 104
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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I saw this youtube video and was very interested in the use of chopped up cactus put into holes in the ground, intended for trees.


Anyone ever tried this? I'm wondering what would be the primary benefit - added carbon, carbon and liquid, something else? (the discarded agave leaves used as a wind break was pretty clever, too)

How cactus would compare to wood in terms of absorbing and holding water in the soil - anyone know? Maybe a better choice in the desert, when things desiccate so easily and cactus is a more easily renewable resource?

I have a lot of cactus I'm keeping, but also a lot of cactus I'm going to be cutting down - some are a non-native type of prickly pear that are taller than I am and are so heavy they are about to knock my fence over - and have been wondering if something like a sunken-in hugelkultur(instead of a raised berm), but with cactus instead of wood, might be worth messing around with, you know? Anyone know if this has been tried anywhere? I have so much large cactus I could definitely give this a go, but if people have had previous experience, it'd be worth exploring first.

Shauna

 
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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I think this guy is on to something mashing up cacti pads in the hole. One of the reasons cacti survive in our weather is due to the mucilage. According to Wikipedia, "Mucilage in plants plays a role in the storage of water and food, seed germination, and thickening membranes."

I think if you put the cacti pads deep enough in the soil, they won't regrow everywhere (we all know what happens to cacti pads left lying around...more cacti!) the mucilage could end up being a water holding substance in the hole and probably encourage other life forms as well. The use of the agave leaves (tips removed - THANK YOU) as a windbreak was also fabulous.

 
shauna carr
pollinator
Posts: 104
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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I am definitely going to give this a go.

I'll take pictures and put something up here when I see how it's doing. See if I can maybe get a sunken bed with and without the cactus, in the same area, for a good comparison, you know? Man - seriously, I'm so excited finally getting to work on this that I'm giddy with it.

Shauna
 
pollinator
Posts: 268
Location: Sunizona Az., USA @ 4,500' Zone 8a
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greening the desert
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When I was a teenager, we would line our pit with prickly pear to cook a pig. Worked really good.
I use soilmoist the same way the video uses cactus.
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