Mike Barkley

gardener & hugelmaster
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since Mar 01, 2018
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After a long career electro-geeking for R&D labs in the electronic industry Mike has checked out of the rat race & moved to the woods. Not entirely off grid but trying to achieve that goal. He raises a few animals & enjoys growing healthy food in various gardens. He is a life long nature lover, adventure seeker, & to a certain extent a minimalist. Eventually bears will probably eat him & turn him into compost. He is ok with that.
mountains of Tennessee
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Recent posts by Mike Barkley

a 3 foot wide base would be 6-9 feet tall?

That's backwards. Six foot wide for 3 feet tall would probably be very stable.
3 days ago
I'm not sure there is a perfect direct answer but 2-3 times wider seems a good place to start. As an experiment I followed the BB specs exactly with Humphrey the hugelhump.. It's crazy steep & I think it would take a lot of work to keep it that tall. Yes, it definitely increases the square footage per given footprint.
3 days ago

I can just cut the zip ties and voila, two 9” deeps that can go in my extractor during the honey harvest. Do you think that would work?  

I think it will work good as long as it's very sturdy.

4 days ago
No. Haven't tried it yet. After reading that book it makes a lot of sense though.
4 days ago
I really don't know why bees think the way they do. They do seem to prefer moving vertically rather than horizontally. Even so, I've lost a colony to apparent starvation with plenty of honey in either direction. It happened during a late freezing spell so that may have been a factor. Perfect cluster, easy honey, easy pollen, all dead within a week or two.

A cluster doesn't form on just one frame. It forms on several frames at once. The innermost frame will have the most bees while the outer ones have less & less the further away from the center you look. It's a sphere, not a circle, if that makes sense. Since the purpose of the cluster is to keep the eggs & queen warm & the warmest spot is in the center it seems like the queen wouldn't want to move to another frame.

4 days ago
A short quote from the book ...

Now let’s calculate how tall the comb should be to allow bees to winter successfully. A cluster is ten inches (25 cm) in diameter. The bees remain in the cluster for five to six months (the dearth period extends even longer). One millimeter of movement per day brings us to seven inches (18 cm) total. So the required comb depth is 18 inches (45 cm) including a one-inch (2-cm) margin. As we mentioned before, this is why bees prefer a hollow of at least 20 inches (50 cm) in depth.

4 days ago
update ... advance search works perfectly for me now.
Very good question Kirsten. It looks like the sand level tasks are ready & listed here.

I looked at several of them & didn't see that anyone had completed one. I also don't see any PEA badges available to award people. I think they're actually ready but not yet visible. I'm really not sure though. D Logan is more up to speed on the entire PEA project. Perhaps do the task & apply for a badge & be the first ground breaker!!!
5 days ago
I suggest thoroughly mixing the clay with the manure before adding it to the hugel. Roughly a 50/50 ratio. That seems to help my heavy clay avoid turning into brick layers. I also add a few leaves & small sticks into the mixture. Consider starting with as many earthworms as possible & doing the Ruth Stout method of burying kitchen scraps to encourage worm populations to thrive. I don't bother removing soil from sod. What I do is flip it over & bury it deep in the lower levels. It seems to work but some really persistent grasses or invasive plants might need to be removed first.

Well composted horse manure seems like it might not be great for mulch. I think too many undesired plants (weeds) will grow directly in that. I think a thin layer of manure covered by a thicker layer of straw (or leaves) as mulch might work better.

It looks like you're off to a great start with this hugel!!! Try looking in the regional forums &/or your local gardening suppliers for specific suggestions on what to grow there. Good luck & welcome to permies.

Hard to tell from the pix but it looks like there's a slight slope. I built a trench to capture water on the uphill side of mine. Slowly but sure that's becoming a hugelmoat. https://permies.com/t/117821/permaculture-projects/chicken-hugel

In case you haven't found Dr. Redhawks's excellent soil series yet.  https://permies.com/wiki/redhawk-soil
6 days ago

Odd that there is no mention of bees in the apiary  

haha  that's a funny typo
1 week ago