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master steward
Posts: 13503
Location: Pacific Northwest
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One thing I recently realized is that one could probably document building a smaller hugel and submit the pictures to the Oddball Badge. Maybe they submit a lazagna bed to that, too. Maybe planting some fruit trees with their guilds, too. Maybe they won't have the Gardening Badge, but they'll have the Oddball Badge.

I got my Oddball Badge by making a play gravel pit, a roundwood kiwi trellis, and small hugel garden bed. I may never have the gardening badge, but I do have a shiny badge.

I honestly think that if people posted pictures of their projects--pictures that they might already have on permies--there might be a LOT more people with badges...
 
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Does this count? https://permies.com/t/113245/Vegie-patch
 
Nicole Alderman
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Honestly, Paul's the only one who decides what counts for that badge and what doesn't. I had no idea if my stuff would count or not. I say post your videos and a link to your thread in the OddBall badge thread https://permies.com/wiki/97787/PEP-Badge-Oddball and see what happens! It can't hurt, right?
 
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I'm ready to create another hugelkultur "pit" and thought it would be a great project for my first badge efforts. My pit is already 5'-6' deep and plenty long enough. So I'd only need to build it up another foot or two above ground level to meet the required 7' depth. These hugelpits work great here, but not the hugelkultur mounds due to our aggressive tradewinds and tropical sun.

My question: Sepp Holzer grain. I have no access to such seed here in Hawaii. But oats grow here just fine and tends to be perennial. I've tried regular rye but it succumbs to fungus problems. Would oats be a suitable substitute for Holzer grain?
 
pioneer
Posts: 105
Location: Southeast Missouri
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paul wheaton wrote:Point noted.  

I wish to stick with the 7 foot tall stuff for reasons.  

To make it a bit simpler, I wrote this thread describing making a hugelkultur that is physically just 3 or 4 feet high, but using material right next to the hugelkultur so that  by the time you are done, there is a path next to the hugelkultur that is 3 or 4 feet deep - thus making it appear to be a total of 7 feet.





Now that makes so much sense that it sent my head spinning.  We are building a homestead in a forest that was last cut for timber over 60 years ago.  There is a beautiful layer about 12-18" thick of beautiful topsoil full of organic material, fungus, and worms that I have been digging down to the clay to stack my logs on.  As I dig holes for foundation footings for our house I'm saving the topsoil for the hugulkultur beds.  I hadn't event thought about digging down through the topsoil to the clay between beds.  That will give me more beautiful topsoil to add to my beds, and it will create natural swales.  Also less bending and stooping.

Mind blown.
 
Su Ba
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Ok now.....I have everything lined up to do this project except for the Sepp Holzer grain. I've got problems with it.
1- Hawaii has strict agricultural import rules. So not just any old business can get seeds into this state.
2- I have not yet found this seed for sale here or from an approved seed vendor.
3- Rye does very poorly in my location. It gets attacked by some sort of fungus and dies before its seed can mature. Thus it won't be a perennial on my farm. I've tried growing a couple varieties of rye grain, but haven't successfully harvested but a few seeds, which didn't sprout when I planted them later. I suspect the seed I saved was already infected by the fungus, thus killing it so it wasn't viable.

On the other hand......oats will grow here, and it tends to behave like a perennial. I've had my sheep graze it for two years now and it's still green and growing. If I harvest the grain and then mow the remaining plant short like a lawn, it grows back. Is that perennial enough to make it a decent substitute for Sepp Holzer grain?

I'd really like to try working on badges for two reasons -- it looks like a fun challenge. And #2, I'd like to get a feel for this endeavor since I plan to incorporate the badge idea in our local farm school events. But being in the tropics poses some problems. There are some things that need to be adjusted to my area. Such as the Sepp Holzer rye.
 
Nicole Alderman
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From what I understand of Sepp's rye, it's only perenial if it's kept mowed, just like your oats. If it goes to seed, it dies. I'm thinking (and I am not Paul and the call is totally his), that your oats would count.
 
pollinator
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Su Ba wrote:I'd like to get a feel for this endeavor since I plan to incorporate the badge idea in our local farm school events.



I'd love to attend or help out with your PEP event whenever you start. Or should I say PES event?

I lived in Holualoa For 7 months helping a family friend who owns some land over there. Loved it. Also have a few family members on that Island too. Most of them live on Oahu including my mom. I'd love to check out what you're doing and throw a shoulder in to help whenever I fly over.
It would also give me more of an incentive to visit BI again.
 
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Location: Greene County, NY Zone 5b
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Here is my attempt at this BB, I built it up as high as I could on a tractor with front end loader, and then hand digging a trench around it. I cheated, in that the trench I dug to make it at least 7' high isn't all the way around, because I built this on a slope, so there would be a whole lot of digging on one side. So if I need to make the trench around the whole thing, I will do that. But at least a section of it is at least 7' high. I tried to show that in the photos.

I actually started this last fall, but couldn't complete it in time for other projects that needed to be done before winter, then this year I couldn't get to it until now while I had the week off. Really all I had done was the 1st layer of wood, and a little bit of dirt. Which got kicked out by my chickens haha. You can see in one older photo a tan canvas shed off in the distance (which later became a greenhouse coop) and then the canvas in a big pile in a newer photo, showing the passage of time. The land I built this on was my parent's before mine, and my Dad kept a "compost pile" out back in the woods. At least that what he called it. It was really a giant pile of bark scraps from firewood, ash cleaned out from the wood stove, extra dirt and other stuff he pile up and left for years and years. It was sort of already a hugel bed, just way out of the way to be useful for me. So I moved that dirt (which had a lot of bits of bark and other wood partially decomposed in it already) to build this hugel bed. I thought I had a photo of it, guess not, sorry. I moved all I could and dug a trench around some of it to reach the 7' mark.

For what I planted, I mixed a bunch of mixes. Prairie moon's "insectopia mix", Johnny's select beneficial insect mix & hummingbird mix, a lupine mix, some seeds I gathered from cleome & wild mustard (I think) from around my house last year, 3) 15g secale multicale rye packets (which I have pictures of earlier in this thread), some crowns/root pieces from a couple of big comfrey plants and some Sunchoke tuber pieces. This was the wrong time of year to plant most of this I think, and the wrong time of year to try and dig out the sunchoke tubers to plant elsewhere. I also planted some sunflowers, and I'm sure I am forgetting something. The different mixes I used have some overlap, but the prairie moon mix by itself had like 40 different varieties, mostly flowers but also some grasses and a "cover crop" variety of wheat. In the photo I  have a container of field peas that I was going to mix with oats in case my main mix didn't cover the whole thing, but I ended up not needed it.

For mulch, it was mostly chicken bedding from the greenhouse, which started from grass clippings and pine shavings, some of it "fresher" and not so broken down. But I also used fresh cut weeds to sort of hold the mulch in place, some stalks of other plants that have been sitting around outside for at least a season, and dried grass clippings. In the photo I also have a pile of branches that I thought I would use to pile on top of everything to hopefully hold it together, but I decided I didn't need it. I could be wrong haha. If I seem light on the mulch I was afraid to put too much on there, smothering the seeds I planted.

Almost forgot about the wood I used, most of it was dead elm (I think it was elm) that fell down along the tree line. Some of it was dead elm that I cut down. I also used some eastern red cedar branches to help hold things together.

It's not pretty, but hopefully it looks better once things start sprouting on it.

Also, sorry, I misread the instruction of "three pics of three different stages" so I might not have enough photos.

The following two photos are from last late summer/fall, in the first one maybe you can see the stakes with white string outlining where I later laid the wood. Along the tree-line in the distance you can see the same type of standing dead trees that I used for the main bits of wood.

And here I have the first layer of wood


And this is two days ago, there is some dirt in with the wood, most of it was dug out by the chickens haha, but they replaced it with their manure, so that's ok I guess.


The first loads of dirt, with more wood piled on top

Same stage, but different angle


Second round of dirt and wood topping.


This is where I missed a few stages of taking photos, but here you can see the bits of decomposed bark and other wood that was already in the dirt I was piling up.


And this is the final height, before mulch


Now with the mulch (and a chicken trying to mess up all my mulch, like everywhere else in my yard.


trying to show off the height of the thing, that 2x2 pole leaning up against the mound is just under 94" long.




This is what I planted, the upper left on the table is the sunchokes, below that is the comfrey crowns, and on the right are the different mixes.


These are the different types of mulch.


The next time I build one of these this high, I am renting an excavator.




Staff note (paul wheaton) :

I certify that this BB is complete!

 
Posts: 66
Location: Hawaii
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Aloha!

While at the 2019 ATC, I made this hugelkulture near Allerton Abby, facing south in a location chosen by Fred. I've been struggling with my computer, as it is 11 years old now and it's being grumpy until I throw it a birthday party. And by "birthday party" I mean go in and clean it up and make some room. So I decided to go ahead and post this through my phone. Please forgive the picture selection, as all of the pictures are shown super tiny on my phone, and i might pick the wrong ones and then have to post a second time.

I used wood that was taken from piles on the road, and some logs and stumps that were already near the spot. There were also a lot of smaller trees and large branches put in. I don't know what kind of trees they once we're, as they were not recently cut. The excavator was at the lab already, which was lovely, and my instructor was there to keep an eye on me if I was getting myself into trouble. (If you use it too fast it makes big shakey movements!) And to save me if I rolled it down the hill. (Side note: the excavator was really fun!)

What I Did Wrong:
1) So, i made it 7 feet, especially on the deepest side, but this hugel wants to be bigger. Much bigger. Twice as big. And i wanted to make it bigger but didn't for... reasons. But not only could it have supported more dirt, I feel that the top layer of dirt is too thin and may wash or erode away and expose the wood, which is not ideal.

2) Not enough planting. In my head, 7 feet is pretty tall. But in order to be that tall, it's also more than 7 feet thick. And this one ended up being maybe 10 feet long? Longer? (I didn't measure that direction.) The overall surface area is much, much larger than I anticipated. So although i planted alot of seeds, it should have had waaay more and I only did a small amount more than was required for the badge. This is partially because I selfishly was thinking about how many badges I might have time to get while at the ATC, and partially because I hadn't planned ahead, so when I discovered I might have the opportunity to make a hugelkulture, it was during the ATC and I had not brought seeds with me. The seeds and plants I did plant were kind gifts graciously bestowed upon me.

3) Not enough mulching. Mulch should be several inches thick. I made a pile of mulch larger than myself, and put it on the hugel, and it barely made a shadow on the pile. Far and above this is the prep I was least prepared for. I didn't have any more hours to spend at the time- but for a future hugel my current belief is that most of the time I spend making the hugel will be to collect the required amount of mulch to be effective. As it was, the mulch I was able to put down was a sparse, sorry sight.

4) Watering it... For the first 2 years? So... I put water on it. But it was remarkably difficult. First of all water is heavy. The hugel needed a ton of water, as it was pretty dry. I ended up mostly watering the spots I planted, but just once after I planted. What I think it really needed is a good long soak to get the innards wet, and then to be watered again periodically for the first two years. There's nothing set up for this hugel to do that. This is going to slow it down. Also when I poured water on it, it wanted to run the dirt off, so I had to be careful. If I made one of these at my parents house, I would want to install a soaker hose system under the mulch along it, so that I could make sure it gets on its way to rotting those logs. Then after the first year or two I would pull them out.

That's the list of the stuff that I know I did wrong. But it's still a big hugelkulture, and it exists. i hope it ends up being better than nothing. :)

I'm grateful for the chance to have made one, as I learned a lot. I wouldn't do it without the excavator. I definitely don't have that kind of time, or beefy arm muscles. Also, it's way, waay more prep work than I anticipated. Now I can make a better one next time.

Plantings:
Sepp Holtzer grains
Alsike, crimson, and rose clover
Sunflower seeds
Live sunchoke plants
Sugar pea pod
Winter dormant alfalfa
Common vetch
Apple seeds
Mixed squash
Some other stuff in a bag
Live comfrey splits

Edit: the pictures did not attach to this one, so I'm trying again with an edit.
IMG_20190709_161025.jpg
site picked for hugelkultur bed
site picked for hugelkultur bed
IMG_20190709_161010.jpg
hugelkultur site selected
hugelkultur site selected
IMG_20190709_163828.jpg
starting to build hugel bed
starting to build hugel bed
 
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