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Permacul The Many Benefits of Hugelkultur
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  1. #1
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    The Many Benefits of Hugelkultur

    https://www.permaculture.co.uk/artic...ts-hugelkultur

    The Many Benefits of Hugelkultur


    Inspiration Green and Permaculture magazine
    Thursday, 17th October 2013
    Hugelkultur are no-dig raised beds with a difference. They hold moisture, build fertility, maximise surface volume and are great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs.





    Hugelkultur, pronounced Hoo-gul-culture, means hill culture or hill mound.

    Instead of putting branches, leaves and grass clippings in bags by the curbside for the bin men... build a hugel bed. Simply mound logs, branches, leaves, grass clippings, straw, cardboard, petroleum-free newspaper, manure, compost or whatever other biomass you have available, top with soil and plant your veggies.

    The advantages of a hugel bed are many, including:

    The gradual decay of wood is a consistent source of long-term nutrients for the plants. A large bed might give out a constant supply of nutrients for 20 years (or even longer if you use only hardwoods). The composting wood also generates heat which should extend the growing season.

    Soil aeration increases as those branches and logs break down... meaning the bed will be no till, long term.

    The logs and branches act like a sponge. Rainwater is stored and then released during drier times. Actually you may never need to water your hugel bed again after the first year (except during long term droughts).

    Sequester carbon into the soil.







    On a sod lawn Sepp Holzer (hugelkultur expert) recommends cutting out the sod, digging a one foot deep trench and filling the trench with logs and branches. Then cover the logs with the upside down turf. On top of the turf add grass clippings, seaweed, compost, aged manure, straw, green leaves, mulch, etc...

    Pallets used around periphery

    From 'Sepp Holzer's Permaculture'


    Sepp Holzer recommends steep hugel beds to avoid compaction from increased pressure over time. Steep beds mean more surface area in your garden for plants and the height makes easy harvesting. The greater the mass, the greater the water-retention benefits.



    Hugel bed dug in clay with logs put in vertically, next branches and lots of wood chips. Top 6" will be wood chips and dirt. This bed will store water and give nutrients for many years to come.



    Straw bale gardens require less soil, less water and hold heat. As the straw breaks down nutrients feed the plants. Combining a straw surround with a hugel interior, topped by lasagne layering is an excellent idea for an area with poor quality soil.



    Hugel bed in Ontario, Canada (June 28) by Tim Burrows. Tim surrounded his very tall hugel bed in pallets!




    Sheet mulching (lasagne gardening) is like composting in place. Above: just a suggestion as to sheet mulching layers. Nitrogen-rich material such as fresh grass clippings or green leaves put right on the hugelkultur wood would help jump start the composting process. Could also include seaweed, straw, dead leaves, leaf mould, etc...

    The first year of break down means the wood (and fungi) steal a lot of the nitrogen out of the surrounding environment, so adding nitrogen during the first year or planting crops that add nitrogen to the soil (like legumes) or planting species with minimal nitrogen requirements is necessary, unless there is plenty of organic material on top of the wood. After the wood absorbs nitrogen to its fill, the wood will start to break down and start to give nitrogen back in the process. In the end you will be left with a beautiful bed of nutrient rich soil.

    Tree types that work well in hugelkultur:

    Hardwoods break down slowly and therefore your hugel bed will last longer, hold water for more years and add nutrients for more years. But softwoods are acceptable as well, a softwood bed will just disintegrate quicker. Mixing woods with softwoods and branches on top, to give off nutrients first, and hardwoods on bottom, sounds like a plan if you have access to multiple types of wood. Yet the newly decomposing softwoods at top will eat up a lot of nitrogen at first, so compensate for that.

    Woods that work best:
    Alders, apple, aspen, birch, cottonwood, maple, oak, poplar, willow (make sure it is dead or it will sprout).

    Trees types that work okay:
    Black cherry (use only rotted), camphor wood (well aged), cedar/juniper/yew (anti-microbial/anti-fungal, so use only at very bottom or unless already well aged. Cedar should be broken down before new plant roots reach it), eucalyptus (slightly anti-microbial), osage orange (exceptionally resistant to decay), Pacific yew (exceptionally resistant to decay), pine/fir/spruce (tannins and sap), red mulberry (exceptionally resistant to decay).

    Tree types to avoid:
    Black locust (will not decompose), black walnut (juglone toxin), old growth redwood (heartwood will not decompose and redwood compost can prevent seed germination).

    This article was cross-posted from www.inspirationgreen.com/hugelkultur.html
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  2. #2
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    I have read about this several times, and watched some YouTube videos on it. It seems amazing. Has anyone on here used this method for a few years that can provide some person feedback on how it worked for them?
    Please PM me if interested in a Mutual-Assistance Group in Central Texas

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by phloydius View Post
    I have read about this several times, and watched some YouTube videos on it. It seems amazing. Has anyone on here used this method for a few years that can provide some person feedback on how it worked for them?
    I have not, but am thinking of experimenting with this technique in one of my raised beds come spring.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  4. #4
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    Interesting timing as I just had two very large trees trimmed a week or so ago and have ample supply of wood trimmings, small logs, etc. They hauled it all out behind my lawn to the tall grass and woods but I can sure get something started before winter and it can be my new place to throw composting materials.

    I came across this method years back and forgot about it. Thank you for reintroducing me to it Packy!
    "Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food." Hippocrates

    My Music page https://poorboyproductions.bandcamp.com/

    The fact that we have a "Highway To Hell" and a "Stairway To Heaven" says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicki View Post
    Interesting timing as I just had two very large trees trimmed a week or so ago and have ample supply of wood trimmings, small logs, etc. They hauled it all out behind my lawn to the tall grass and woods but I can sure get something started before winter and it can be my new place to throw composting materials.

    I came across this method years back and forgot about it. Thank you for reintroducing me to it Packy!

    You're welcome, we trimmed our oak this spring, will have another go at it next spring as well, and have some nice branches about the diameter of my forearm that'd work great with some of the ideas in the article. Or I may just save the branches for the smoker.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  6. #6
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    I know that wood chips on top of soil has little or no nitrogen robbing problems but would not all that wood in/under the soil be a problem, even if some manure is added, after a few years?
    AKA bobinky, just an old coot livin' on a hillside in Kentucky.

  7. #7
    Once the wood is broken down, it won't be a problem. It jyst adds more organic matter to the doil, and as ,omg as your soil pH is where it should be, your nutrients won't be tied up. The problem with adding a lot of wood chips or sawdust (or even dry leaves) is they use nitrogen to feed the soil bacteria that "eats" the high carbon stuff.

    You'd be amazed at how fast stuff breaks down in truly healthy, "live" soil.

    I once made the mistake of telling hubby that our upper, 2 acre garden needed "lots" of manure.(always be very specific when talking to men! LOL). He spread the entire winter's worth of manure from our heavily bedded pack barn on it. It was at least 8" deep, and about half of it was hay and straw. We disked it in, but I was sure it was going to take months to break down and integrate into the soil, and I was afraid nothing would grow well that year.

    Hah! When I planted *three weeks* later, there was almost no recognizable pieces of manure or straw to be found! It had completely broken down, and I had tomato plants that year that were 8 feet tall and 6 feet across...and they were loaded with fruit.

    The other thing we've noticed is how high organic matter soil "holds" nutrients until they are needed by the plants. We've been posturing meat chickens for 4 years now. If we look down on the fields where we've had them, it's still very easy to tell where they were... even four years later, the hay crop is super dark green, lush, and gets about 8" talker than the same species if grass which didn't get the benefits of the chicken manure.

    Our neighboring big farm uses some dairy manure from their 1700 cows, but they never have enough for all the acres they run. So they spread a lot of ammonium nitrate for nitrogen. It works... for 6 weeks after they spread it. One cutting of hay, or one corn crop benefits. After that, it's obvious that the soil is short of nitrogen again.and, the ammonium nitrate raises he'll with the microbe population in the soil. If they didn't use all liquid manure from their lagoon, it would take months to break down.

    Summerthyme

  8. #8
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    Down here in the south we'd call that a snake habitat, at least I would.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rabbit View Post
    Down here in the south we'd call that a snake habitat, at least I would.
    Second that. At the time my place was not that far south of the Mason-Dixon. I gave my best friend a baby copper head out of the goodness of my heart. There was some spoiled hay at my place she wanted for mulch. It didn't take long to fork it into the back of the pickup. She found the snake when she unloaded the truck. Probably thought it'd found the perfect warm place to curl up and hunt mice.
    Last edited by Old Gray Mare; 10-05-2017 at 07:02 PM.
    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. - Mark Twain

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by summerthyme View Post
    Once the wood is broken down, it won't be a problem. It jyst adds more organic matter to the doil, and as ,omg as your soil pH is where it should be, your nutrients won't be tied up. The problem with adding a lot of wood chips or sawdust (or even dry leaves) is they use nitrogen to feed the soil bacteria that "eats" the high carbon stuff.

    You'd be amazed at how fast stuff breaks down in truly healthy, "live" soil.

    I once made the mistake of telling hubby that our upper, 2 acre garden needed "lots" of manure.(always be very specific when talking to men! LOL). He spread the entire winter's worth of manure from our heavily bedded pack barn on it. It was at least 8" deep, and about half of it was hay and straw. We disked it in, but I was sure it was going to take months to break down and integrate into the soil, and I was afraid nothing would grow well that year.

    Hah! When I planted *three weeks* later, there was almost no recognizable pieces of manure or straw to be found! It had completely broken down, and I had tomato plants that year that were 8 feet tall and 6 feet across...and they were loaded with fruit.

    The other thing we've noticed is how high organic matter soil "holds" nutrients until they are needed by the plants. We've been posturing meat chickens for 4 years now. If we look down on the fields where we've had them, it's still very easy to tell where they were... even four years later, the hay crop is super dark green, lush, and gets about 8" talker than the same species if grass which didn't get the benefits of the chicken manure.

    Our neighboring big farm uses some dairy manure from their 1700 cows, but they never have enough for all the acres they run. So they spread a lot of ammonium nitrate for nitrogen. It works... for 6 weeks after they spread it. One cutting of hay, or one corn crop benefits. After that, it's obvious that the soil is short of nitrogen again.and, the ammonium nitrate raises he'll with the microbe population in the soil. If they didn't use all liquid manure from their lagoon, it would take months to break down.

    Summerthyme
    I did something similar at my mom's place, heavy yellow clay, dad bitched the whole time telling me that nothing would ever grow. I swear we picked a thousand cucumbers that summer, and the green beans produced and heavily as well. He never complained about my compost pile ever again after that summer. Next door neighbor had cows and after that would bring my mom a load of cow manure to supplement her chicken and rabbit manure piles each spring.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  11. #11
    Wood supplies little more than carbon. However without carbon soil is dead as there is nothing to feed soil bacteria.

    When soil bacteria eat, they release acid by-products. Acids work on rock particles in the soil to release mineral salts that feed plant growth.

    So rock dust will work well with this system.

    However, bacteria need nitrogen. Yep, a few types of bacteria can get it from the air but a lot more growth can be achieved by adding manure or some form of nitrogen to the system.

    The big thing this system is offering is oxygen to the roots of growing plants. This will give you twice the size in plant growth compared to growing in normal soil.

    Same system in a pot.





    AIR PRUNNUING POT ROCKET POT

  12. #12
    Search Results
    Most are decomposers that consume simple carbon compounds, such as root exudates and fresh plant litter. By this process, bacteria convert energy in soil organic matter into forms useful to the rest of the organisms in the soil food web.
    Soil Bacteria | NRCS Soils - USDA
    https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal...h/biology/?cid...
    Feedback
    About this result
    Making Microbes: Fungal vs Bacterial Soil Life - The Permaculture ...
    https://permaculturenews.org/2016/11...erial-soil-lif...
    Nov 14, 2016 - 6 posts - ‎3 authors
    The soil-food-web is the interconnected matrix of invisible (fungi, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes) and visible (earthworms, beetles, arthropods) ...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by China Connection View Post
    Search Results
    Most are decomposers that consume simple carbon compounds, such as root exudates and fresh plant litter. By this process, bacteria convert energy in soil organic matter into forms useful to the rest of the organisms in the soil food web.
    Soil Bacteria | NRCS Soils - USDA
    https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal...h/biology/?cid...
    Feedback
    About this result
    Making Microbes: Fungal vs Bacterial Soil Life - The Permaculture ...
    https://permaculturenews.org/2016/11...erial-soil-lif...
    Nov 14, 2016 - 6 posts - ‎3 authors
    The soil-food-web is the interconnected matrix of invisible (fungi, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes) and visible (earthworms, beetles, arthropods) ...
    Thank you for the links. I hope that you will have the mods move your gardening threads to the garden forum, they are quite insightful.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

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