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master steward
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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Maybe you could get a picture of someone/you standing next to it, down in the trench? Just have them facing away if they don't want their face on permies.

These things ARE hard to gauge the height of!
 
master steward
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I'm not sure about the trench on each side method.  I'm thinking Paul meant for it to be a trench around a long hugel.  If the hugel is more of a pyramid, and you aren't planning on extending it in the near future, I'm kind of thinking the trench would be on all sides.  But I don't really know.

For purposes of clarifying the height, putting something of a known height in the trench and photographing it from a reasonable distance would work.

I think I've seen someone selling Sepp Holzer grain here on permies.  They have a bucket of it at basecamp but I'm not sure how you could get a baggie.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1413
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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About to plant in my Holzer grains this morning (thanks paul and clay!), do they prefer being near the top or the bottom?  We get about 40" of rain in even-ish distribution. Thanks!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Posts: 1413
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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Here's my submission for the Badge Bit (there's a part 2 coming with the write-up and the remaining pictures, sorry if i overdid the photos, I have more than 20):

area-before-hugel-build-20200428_160008.jpg
Area before hugel build, first angle
Area before hugel build, 2nd angle
hugel-area-before-build-angle-2-20200428_163319.jpg
Area before build, 2nd angle
Area before build, first angle (sorry these are out of order, i don't know how to switch them))
wood-ready-for-car-transport-20200428_153131.jpg
wood ready for car transport
wood ready for car transport
wood-used-for-hugelbed-20200428_153221.jpg
wood used for hugelbed (the Town felled and chopped a tree--they should get a badge)
wood used for hugelbed (the Town felled and chopped a tree--they should get a badge)
piling-wood-20200428_164206.jpg
piling wood
piling wood
starting-burying-20200428_182458.jpg
starting burying. it looks so easy at first. so easy.
starting burying. it looks so easy at first. so easy.
in-process-2-b-20200501_124423.jpg
in process may 1
in process may 1
in-process-may-1-20200501_124439.jpg
in process may 1
in process may 1
irrigating-a-bit-20200515_161230.jpg
irrigating a bit
irrigating a bit
leaf-mulch-plus-maple-seeds-20200522_124419.jpg
leaf mulch plus involuntary maple seeds but at least their roots hold the soil
leaf mulch plus involuntary maple seeds but at least their roots hold the soil
grass-mulch-with-some-broadleafs-20200522_130556.jpg
grass mulch from nearby neighbor with some broadleafs visible in yard
grass mulch from nearby neighbor with some broadleafs visible in yard
seaweed-mulch-20200519_160622.jpg
seaweed mulch the host brought (thanks!) from trip to Maine
seaweed mulch the host brought (thanks!) from trip to Maine
bark-mulch-20200522_123126.jpg
bark mulch
bark mulch
driveway-mulch-dogwood-and-other-tree-flowers-20200529_115400.jpg
driveway mulch--indigenous to the suburbs, dogwood and other tree flowers scooped by trash barrel lid
driveway mulch--indigenous to the suburbs, dogwood and other tree flowers scooped by trash barrel lid
partly-mulched-20200515_161254.jpg
fifth kind of mulch -- tea leaves from outside tea importer (locally foraged foreign import tea)
fifth kind of mulch -- tea leaves from outside tea importer (locally foraged foreign import tea)
how-did-the-permie-climb-the-hugel-20200519_161504.jpg
how did the permie climb the hugel--access is a challenge for non-giants among us
how did the permie climb the hugel--access is a challenge for non-giants among us
proof-that-there-is-a-god-slash-hugelkultur-works-20200529_113412.jpg
beauty--some brassica sprouted
beauty--some brassica sprouted
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1413
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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2nd round of pictures.

What I planted:

1 Swiss chard,  2 sunflower (some loft house), 3 zinnia 4 Vietnamese hot pepper 5 potato (loft house), 6 lettuce (loft house), mung beans (in container behind the row), front row: 8 carrot  9 collards 10 borage 11 turnip white globe (Lofthouse), 13 kale (Lofthouse), 14 comfrey, 15 buckwheat (not pictured), and 16 Holzer grain (other picture), plus 4 peppers my host wanted in there.    

Mulches:
1. grass clippings from a neighbor I passed by
2. seaweed the host brought back from her trip
3. driveway mulch--dogwood flowers and other tree flowers scooped up
4. bark from some wood pile bits lying around, more used as micro-wattles
5. tea leaves from a pile of tea thrown out across the fence from tea importer

wood: from a Town tree in park nearby that just happened to be felled the day I was starting the badge work, my host kindly drove over and let me load up stuff in the back of the car on a tarp, plus leant me the wheelbarrow-like four-wheeler thing that actually works OK, to haul the wood up to the street along the footpath in the park.

Interesting things/stuff I learned:
* The slope is north-facing, more or less, a pretty substantial grade.  There's about 4 hours of sun on the footprint, but the height of the hugelbed adds a few hours on the upper parts.
* Don’t use the avalanche method.  It doesn’t work.  It just avalanches down and then nothing has stuck at all.  Use the sand castle method.  
* On a serious note, in Belmont, MA, it is illegal to make a pit of more than some number of feet deep that is rectangular.  It can be another shape, but not rectangular.  This is, tragically, because a child fell into one and it collapsed on them.  Hence the “steps” motif on my hugel trench.  This isn't a joking matter.  I will have to expand the trenches after I'm done...adding to the footprint which is already over footprint, but my excuse is I didn't know ahead of time.  It's Ok for the Badge Bit parameters, but I'm not sure it's OK by the laws, I have to look up the exact wording and make sure.
* My trench is huge.  It made me think I was just being lame, but I dug extra deep on the uphill side NOT to make the thing look taller but because I wanted to soak the water in coming down the slope into the upslope side of the hugelbed more than the downslope side, giving it more of a chance to soak in.  I thought about frost pockets but a) I can't let all that water go by if I'm making a trench anyway, b) we’re 5 degrees south of Missoula, and c) I can make a frost drain later if need be.
* I put a random piece of plastic gutter that I found in the yard to draw rain from the drainpipe into the downhill trench.  (The drainpipe was too low to get to the uphill trench or I would have used that one). It worked.  I needed to dig a little sand castle moat to get the last foot, but it still worked, my hosts said, and I see plenty of water in the subsoil even after this drought we just had
* I used that same piece of gutter to measure.  I thought it was 7’ tall (measuring by the ladder rungs), but after I worked my a$$ off getting the hugelbed to what I thought was 7’ tall on the upslope side, I found out that that piece gutter isn't 7’, it’s actually 8'.
* I really would have saved myself a lot of time, and not had to pile soil on top of seeds I'd already planted that may have put them too deep to germinate, if I'd had a better measuring system ready ahead of time--plus one I could use even if no one was around to hold the thing vertical for me.  The plastic, lightweight gutter thing is a good tool for this, as it does stand on end kind of, and is longer than needed, whereas guesstimating off of a much shorter shovel just made me nuts
* Wattles.  This is the most important word I have used in this post.  I should have made them earlier.  Mike Barkley did them, that's how he was able to get that skyscraper effect, and keep the mulch on.  I resisted doing them because I somehow thought it would be a ton of work, and I was feeling frustrated, isn't this hugelbed supposed to SOLVE problems, not create them? my host is going to judge me and permaculture because all i've done is create a massive erosion problem, plus all the dead bodies of people who've fallen into my trench couldn't escape.  BUT!  the next day I went out there and I wattled.  And it literally took me just 45" of wattling to make a big difference.  I sholud have done more on the south slope but it's much better than it used to be.  It held after the rain mostly.   It's got to help the roots of the clover and brassicas that are getting their start in there in the meantime, so anything that buys time is worth it.  The only bad wattle is a wattle you didn't make, I would say.
* real utility is the only motivator that really keeps me going with this, just getting a badge, even one from someone I respect, is still sort of jumping through a hoop.  I had to keep focusing on how much yield this might get, and the yields in terms of learning.
* I killed a bunch of my host's lawn, unfortunately, buy leaving a pile of dirt on there for a few weeks.  I honestly THOUGHT I was going to move it right back on the top of the bed after a week and the grass would be sad but make it through...but of course you know what happened, and it has not yet recovered.  They hadn’t complained, and were in the process of re-seeding the lawn strip by strip anyway, so I think it’s OK, but I learned something. 
* saving all those clods of clover was a waste of time since I never bothered to put most of the clumps back onto the hugelbed after, and then the clover died in the drought--so next time just save a few and let the rest go!
* what's really sprouted so far is just the clover, 1 sunflower, all the sunchokes, a few kale, and the buckwheat; the mung beans are just starting, the other things seem to have disappeared but maybe need warmer weather before they get going.  Or, squirrels.
* I guesstimate this was about 40 hours of work, I am somewhat slow and wasn't so organized, but also it's just tricky piling soil high from across a trench without a real scaffold to stand on.  But I got some good exercise.

If I left anything out please help me out, and thanks so much Mike Barkley, Clayton High, and Paul for all your help so far!  

Oh, I forgot, the hugelbed's name is Bogart, after Mike Barkley's one named Humphrey.

Also, my host wanted to plant heirloom beans but the package never got delivered.  We also talked about strawberries, I'll have to follow up on that.
seeds-to-plant-20200515_164134.jpg
seeds to plant
seeds to plant
sunchokes-ready-to-plant-address-blocked-out-20200529_183955.jpg
sunchokes (thanks to my host for buying these)
sunchokes (thanks to my host for buying these)
Holzer-grain-x-12-thanks-Clay-and-Paul-20200606_150359.jpg
Holzer grain, thanks Clay for mailing and Paul for paying the postage!
Holzer grain, thanks Clay for mailing and Paul for paying the postage!
backfilling-one-trench-a-bit-20200529_124410.jpg
backfilled one trench that was too deep and buried wood in there
backfilled one trench that was too deep and buried wood in there
comfreys-bogarted-20200601_172711.jpg
stolen comfreys from the bike path in nearby Somerville
stolen comfreys from the bike path in nearby Somerville
complete-angle-1-downslope-trench-20200609_093831.jpg
Completed, angle 1, with 5'6" lovely assistant (8' piece of gutter)
Completed, angle 1, with 5'6 lovely assistant in downslope trench plus 8' gutter
complete-angle-1-upslope-trench-120200609_093911.jpg
Complete angle 2 upslope trench
Complete angle 1 upslope trench
complete-angle-2-20200609_093932.jpg
complete angle 2, upslope trench again
complete angle 2, upslope trench
clover-buckwheat-20200512_204012.jpg
[Thumbnail for clover-buckwheat-20200512_204012.jpg]
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

Congratulations, this BB is certified!

 
Mike Haasl
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Nice work Joshua!  Were the nitrogen fixers >75% of the planted seeds by volume?
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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Mike Haasl wrote:Nice work Joshua!  Were the nitrogen fixers >75% of the planted seeds by volume?



Yes, I planted the whole jar of clover seeds, just added that picture to the bottom.  That whole jar, it looks white in the light for some reason but those are clover seeds. That plus half that container of mung beans.

By the way, I didn't innoculate but since there was already white clover growing the yard, I figure there've got to be the right microbes.

Thanks.
 
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Location: Near Summerland, British Columbia, Canada
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A question about going for a BB with a hugelkultur build.  I semi-started on one earlier this year, on my own volition, meaning, I was just thinking to build a hugel for my own use, and dragged the biggest logs into position in a field here, before I thought about the idea of maybe doing a BB with it, having never participated in any such thing in my life.  I haven't measured the pile yet, but my hugel will be maybe 25-30 feet long, I'd guess.  It still needs lots more small wood added to fill things in, before the soil goes on.

Reading about the BB, you needed pics of the area before the start... and I didn't take any, because I wasn't thinking to do a BB when the sudden hugel inspiration struck.  At this point, it's a bunch of big fallen cottonwoods dragged into position with my tractor and now lying in a stack in my field.  Will pics of the log pile at this point suffice to start, and then I can shoot progressive pics as I build?

I then read your other requirements:

To complete this BB, the minimum requirements are:
 - 7 feet tall, 7 feet wide, 6 feet long
 - mulch it with at least 4 different kinds of mulch
 - seed/plant at least a dozen different species
 - mostly nitrogen fixers (>75% by volume)
 - at least three comfrey plants
 - at least three sunchokes
 - at least a dozen sepp holzer grains

So... 7 x 7 x 30-ish should be fine.

Mulch, sure.

12+ species, OK.

Mostly nitrogen fixers... OK... gotta do some research, there, since I'm actually wanting to grow stuff I want to grow, as opposed to entering a competition, but I understand their value in a hugel start.

Comfrey... OK... have some seedlings up at this point to perhaps transplant into the hugel next May.

Sunchokes... do I have to?  Not sure they're what I want.  Can I substitute?  Potatoes or sweet potatoes, maybe, or another tuber crop?  Am I crazy to not plant sunchokes?

Sepp Holzer grains... I'm neither a big grain consumer, nor located in the US, so getting those is both difficult and semi-pointless, for me.  Substitutions?


Overall, beyond the nitrogen fixers, I'm not sure why the specific planting limitations, if the BB is really just about building and planting a hugel for one's agricultural tech improvement.

Any thoughts, special dispensations or divine guidance would be much appreciated.
 
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