Daron Williams wrote:Hey Adam,
I’m not familiar with miscanthus but the basic idea of a living fence is sound. Historically hawthorns were often used for this purpose. These sorts of living fences are often called hedgerows.
I have planted hedgerows around a big chunk of my wild homestead with the goal of providing privacy and keeping deer out.
The mistake I made is that while the hedgerows are getting established deer can eat everything down or just push through them. The result is the hedgerows fail at one of their core “jobs”. My solution was to put up cheap temporary deer fences. Not ideal but my hedgerows have taken off since they’re no longer getting eaten.
Eventually I will take the fences down but I’m waiting for the plants to fill out a lot more.
I have also found wild roses and a shrub called snowberry (native types to my area) to be fantastic for hedgerows. Both spread by rhizomes so they pop up and fill in the gaps left between my bigger shrubs and trees that are also planted in my hedgerows.
So I would recommend looking for similar plants for your area—plants that grow quickly and spread by rhizomes. But also include big shrubs (10+ feet tall) and trees. Put the fast growing and spreading plants on the side the deer will be coming from and use them to shelter the taller shrubs and trees.
I have found the key for hugelkultur beds if you want quick productivity is to be very careful to fill in all the gaps between the logs and branches with soil. A lot of people just kind of throw the soil on top of the woody bits which leave a lot of gaps.
This is fine in the long run since everything will settle out but it will likely result in less production and potentially even dry out without irrigation during the first year or 2.
I wrote a blog post on 5 different types of hugelkultur beds that should help you out with this: https://www.wildhomesteading.com/hugelkultur-variations/
As far as using cardboard… yeah Paul doesn’t like it and I can understand why. But both Geoff Lawton and Sepp Holzer use it at times. But the concern over toxins in the glues and/or dyes is understandable.
That being said I use a ton of it on my wild homestead to convert lawn to growing space. I want to shift to using chickens and deep mulching in the future but I’m not there yet.
I would make sure to remove all the tape from the cardboard and also don’t use cardboard with laminated covers or with a lot of colorful prints. I like nice plain cardboard boxes.
Since I’m only using the cardboard over an area once my personal view is that the amount of toxins is minimal and that the fungi and other soil life can take care of them for me.
But some people will disagree with that and I completely understand their view too.
If you build your hugelkultur beds down instead of building them up (see the blog post for more on this) then you won’t need to bring in soil. I built my kitchen garden using this technique. The beds are only 6 inches to a foot above the surrounding mulch but each bed goes down a good 3+ feet underground with a ton of buried wood down there.
If you want to build the beds up high Paul has a suggestion on that—check out this post about that option here: https://permies.com/wiki/98574/PEP-BB-gardening-sand-hugelkultur
There is a picture on the first post that shows how you can do this. But if you have really wet conditions you will likely get a nice big pond next to your hugelkultur bed if you go this route.
But it’s an option that can work great depending on your specific situation.
You can grow anything in a hugelkultur bed assuming you have enough soil over the top of the buried wood. If the soil is too shallow then root crops like carrots may hit the wood and not grow well.
A shovel and manure fork should work good—just make sure you have a good wheelbarrow too. I really like having a no-air tire on mine so I don’t have to worry or deal with flats.
I have done most of my projects without spending much. The key has been to look for free stuff that people are throwing away or willing to let me pickup and haul out. I get cardboard, a ton of wood chips, logs, and fall leaves all for free. I also get a lot of free plants by salvaging native plants from sites that are going to be developed.
I also order my plants from wholesale nurseries when possible. You have to order a larger amount at once but the price per plant is much cheaper.
Also live staking can be a great option for some species of plants: https://www.wildhomesteading.com/intro-live-staking/
Finally, explore the threads on permies and for a selfish plug make sure to check out the blog posts on my site—Wild Homesteading. Lots of good resources on both!
And don’t hesitate to ask any follow up questions.
Thank you and good luck!